Continuity without change (and a round 14 preview)

Continuity is always key

A common football truism is that a stable team does better than a chaotic one. But does this hold true when looking at actual results?


HPN has looked at the number of players that missed less than two players across the last three years (2014 to 2016) for each team and their final ladder position. There clearly appears to be a trend, namely that teams at the top end of the ladder have a more consistent best 22 than those at the bottom end.

2014 continuity2015 continuity

Continuity appears to be critical for two reasons on face value. Firstly, a team that plays regularly together is likely to be it’s best talent, with fewer fringe players rotating through the team. In this sense, this data would indicate that injuries, suspension and form issues seem to hit top sides significantly less than the also-rans.

Secondly, it would indicate that teams that get the opportunity to play together regularly build the (at least to our knowledge) immeasurable force that is cohesion. Cohesion is often cited when a champion team plays well, or lack thereof when a young team plays poorly. In a practical sense, this would occur not only when players learn how to play their role in a particular strategic system, but also when they know how to play the role in conjunction with their specific teammates.

In 2016, the continuity index largely apes the ladder again:

2016 continuity

These numbers will likely fall for every team through the rest of the season, however a clear pattern does emerge. Seven of the top eight teams on the ladder are represented in the top eight teams above, with only the Bulldogs sliding down the list. It is worth noting, however, that the Dogs have the third largest contingent of players yet to miss a game.

Round 14 preview

  1. Will Heath Shaw keep playing like it’s the 1970s?

As much as some like to dispute it, football is an ever-evolving game. In the 70s, it was typified by movement by foot against that by hand, with players such as Kevin Bartlett synonymous with this style of football.

Heath Shaw is a glorious call-back to this era:

2016 kicks v handball

Shaw can handball – we’ve seen it with our collective four eyes. But he chooses a stylistic dedication to the past instead (or is just better with his feet than almost any other player going around).

At the other end of the spectrum are a cacophony of ruckmen and inside mids:

2016 kicks v handball END

Headlined by fellow GWS veteran Shane Mumford. It’s good to know that they have their roles sorted out at the Giants.

2. Richmond might get a trillion marks in the forward 50 this week

OK, that might be an exaggeration – but not as much as you think. Richmond, the number one side for marks inside 50 per entry, is facing off against Brisbane, who sit stone-motherless-last for marks conceded per I50 entry.

r14 I50

If Brisbane are to win this week they need to play better defence than they have at any point this year.

3. Is it better to play or rest?

This round matches the teams who had the bye last week against those who played last week, and serves a example of the haves against the have nots. Last night North looked like a team that could have used a break, and Adelaide ran away with a massive surge in the second half of the last quarter. It looked like the Roos literally ran out of legs.

For the remaining five games, the bye team is favourite in just one game (Richmond v Brisbane) and with the odds tied in for Fremantle v Collingwood. If there’s any substance to the restorative powers of a week off then expect Carlton, Collingwood, Richmond, St Kilda and the Gold Coast to outperform expectations and sneak a win or two.

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