In a game that is being over-run with statistics two numbers are critical. Contested marks and marks inside the forward 50m zone.
Together they identify players having a genuine impact on the outcome of games, and are why Port Adelaide key forward Charlie Dixon is enjoying the best form of his career.
For the second week in a row Dixon was an absolute powerhouse, even in a Port side beaten by West Coast in Adelaide on Saturday afternoon.
He had 10 marks (six contested marks, three inside 50) to go with an equal career-high 22 possessions (14 contested), five tackles, three goals and one goal assist.
This came on top of his 12 marks (six contested marks, seven inside 50), 20 possessions (10 contested), three tackles and four goals against Brisbane at the Gabba in Round 6.
His effort against West Coast earned him 135 Champion Data ranking points – seventh best in a remarkable round of football in which the team lower on the ladder going into the round won all nine games.
North’s Jarrad Waite (190), Sydney’s Lance Franklin (160), Brisbane’s Tom Rockliff (148), Fremantle’s Lachie Neale (147), Sydney’s Zak Jones (143) and Port’s Paddy Ryder (139) were the only players to rank higher than Dixon in Round 6 after he was second only to Gold Coast’s Gary Ablett with 151 ranking points in Round 6.
Significantly, a third of the way through the season Dixon, with 19 contested marks, ranks second in the League behind only West Coast’s Josh Kennedy (21).
And with 21 marks inside forward 50 he is equal fourth behind only Kennedy (27), Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt (25) and Gold Coast’s Tom Lynch (23). GWS’s Jeremy Cameron (21) and Essendon’s Joe Daniher (21) are level with the Cairns giant.
With 17 goals Dixon leads the Queensland goal-kicking list ahead of the Round 8 visit to China and Port Adelaide’s historic clash with the Gold Coast.
And he’s pulled to second among Queenslanders on the Champion Data ranking list behind only Brisbane’s Dayne Zorko. Dixon has 686 to Zorko’s 730, with St.Kilda’s Nick Riewoldt third on 620.
Quietly sneaking up the rankings list, too, is Dixon’s former Gold Coast Suns teammate Jarrod Harbrow.
The under-rated veteran defender, playing only his fifth match of the season, posted his fourth 100-point game with 30 possessions in the Suns’ magnificent win over Geelong at Metricon Stadium.
Suns teammate Alex Sexton, with 22 possessions, two goals and eight inside 50 entries, continued his good form with 84 Champion Data points, while Jesse Joyce had 13 possessions and first-gamer Brad Scheer eight possessions and five tackles.
In a Brisbane side well-beaten by Sydney at the SCG Ben Keays continued to impress.
Coming off a career-high 25 possessions against Port, Keays had 18 possessions and a goal. His 11 contested possessions was equal second on the Lions list, behind only Rockliff and level with Stefan Martin.
Dropped after Round 1, when he had 60 Champion Data ranks, Keays has had scores of 69-80-89 in the last three weeks since his recall, and is looking more at home at AFL level.
In the same game Zorko earned 81 points for 21 possessions, four clearances, six tackles and a goal for the Lions, while Harris Andrews had 15 possessions, Claye Beams 13 possessions and Eric Hipwood seven.
Collingwood’s Josh Smith had 21 disposals in their loss to Carlton, while Sam Gilbert had 11 possessions, seven tackles and nine one-percenters in St.Kilda’s shock Friday night win over GWS at Etihad Stadium. Riewoldt had 13 possessions.
Lachie Weller (18 possessions) and Lee Spurr (19 possessions, 11 marks) were good contributors to Fremantle’s come-from-behind win over Essendon in Perth.
Brothers Josh and Corey Wagner both played at AFL level for the first time this season.
Josh, returning from injury, had 15 possessions in Melbourne’s loss to Hawthorn and slipped nicely back into AFL level, but Corey injured his ankle in the first few minutes of North’s upset win over Adelaide. He will see a surgeon today but is hoping to miss no more than two weeks.
There was further bad injury news, with St.Kilda’s Tom Hickey suffering a knee injury playing in the VFL.
It was at first feared he had done his ACL, but scans on Sunday confirmed he had escaped with a medial strain that will sideline him for four-six weeks.
By peter Blucher