Analysis

Why do North Melbourne keep losing the close games?

When Lindsay Thomas’ long Hail Mary went just to the wrong side of the post in the first ever Good Friday match against the Western Bulldogs, it continued a miserable record for North Melbourne coach Brad Scott in close matches.

This was the 18th match in Scott’s time at the Kangaroos where his team had played in a match decided by a goal or less. And it was their 14th loss. That’s a 78 per cent losing record.

In comparison, Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has just endured his eighth game as Bulldogs coach where the margin was six points or less. I say endured, but given the Dogs have now won seven of those games, you couldn’t blame the current premiership coach for having an extra amount of confidence in those tight games.

But this story is not about Bevo and his ability to get the best of his team when it comes to the crunch, but the inability of Scott’s team to win the close ones.

Statistics can be used in a million ways to condemn a coach, but this one stands out as a significant outlier in the history of coaching.

Footy Prophet has taken a look at the record of every current AFL coach in matches decided by a goal or less  plus the ten most experienced coaches in history to see where Scott sits, and it ain’t pretty reading.

His winning percentage of 22.22% in these tight matches is by far the worst of the 18 current AFL coaches, (Note: Simon Goodwin has never coached in a tight match)

GWS coach Leon Cameron has four matches in that six-point window, and won just one (a record of 25 per cent, but in a low sample size), while Alan Richardson has seven matches eligible for two wins at 28.5%.

So what’s an acceptable number?

The current crop of AFL coaches have overseen a combined 283 games where the margin has been a goal or less, for a winning percentage of 45.58%, over twice as successful as Scott’s record. Six coaches have a winning percentage of better than 50, Beveridge, Chris Scott, Nathan Buckley, John Worsfold, Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan.

The top ten coaches of all time had 704 games in that category, and their cumulative winning percentage was 47.03 per cent, with Kevin Sheedy (58.1%) and Ron Barassi (56.5%) the standouts among that group. The worst record in that regard in that group belonged to Leigh Matthews at 32.8%.

Scott can’t blame the fact he has featured in a higher percentage of tight matches. Twelve per cent of matches he has coached have been inside the six-point bracket which sits exactly on the average of current coaches and slightly under the top ten of all time.

In terms of that stat, his brother Chris Scott has endured a significantly higher percentage of close matches, nearly 18 per cent of the 145 matches he has coached, while Beveridge is at 15% and Ken Hinkley 14.7%. (Fagan is at 33%, but one out of three isn’t a representative sample size).

Ross Lyon may be renowned for overseeing low-scoring teams, but only 23 of the 243 matches he has coached (9.5%) have been inside a six-point margin, while the Don Pyke (one from 27 and Cameron (4 from 71) have experienced a surprisingly low amount of close matches.

The records of the ten experienced coaches in this regard tells us that there are a lower proportion of tight matches in the modern era. Norm Smith (17.3%), Dick Reynolds (14.9%) and Jock McHale (14.3%) all have significantly higher rate of +/- 6 point matches and all of them coached before the 1960s.

Does all of this condemn Scott and his team as the greatest chokers in the game’s history when it comes to tight matches? That’s a big call.

One interesting stat is that in three of the 14 matches they have lost by fewer than six points, they have had more scoring shots than their rivals, which is an indicator of a lack of composure.

But perhaps the toughest stat for North fans is this. In seven of those 14 games, they have conceded the final goal of the match. That is to say, they held the lead, and coughed it up.

That wasn’t the case on Friday, but having lost two of their first four games by under a kick, losing like this a habit that Scott and his team will be desperate to kick, or it might end up being his final year in charge at Arden Street.

Table: Current Coaches in Matches Six Points and Under 

Team

Coach Matches Total +/- six points Win Loss Draw % of games Win % Lose % Draw %

Collingwood

Nathan Buckley 117 13 7 6 11.11% 53.85% 46.15%

0.00%

Gold Coast Rodney Eade 361 43 16 22 5 11.91% 37.21% 51.16%

11.63%

North Melbourne Brad Scott 161 18 4 14 11.18% 22.22% 77.78%

0.00%

Richmond

Damien Hardwick 160 17 5 10 2 10.63% 29.41% 58.82% 11.76%

Geelong

Chris Scott 145 26 15 10 1 17.93% 57.69% 38.46% 3.85%

Essendon

John Worsfold 306 45 23 20 2 14.71% 51.11% 44.44%

4.44%

Fremantle Ross Lyon 243 23 11 7 5 9.47% 47.83% 30.43%

21.74%

GWS Leon Cameron 71 4 1 3 5.63% 25.00% 75.00%

0.00%

Port Adelaide Ken Hinkley 95 14 5 9 14.74% 35.71% 64.29%

0.00%

Hawthorn

Alastair Clarkson 286 34 19 14 1 11.89% 55.88% 41.18% 2.94%
St Kilda Alan Richardson 70 7 2 4 1 10.00% 28.57% 57.14% 14.29%
Sydney John Longmire 153 19 8 9 2 12.42% 42.11% 47.37% 10.53%
Adelaide Don Pyke 27 1 1 3.70% 0.00% 100.00% 0.00%
West Coast Adam Simpson 74 6 3 2 1 8.11% 50.00% 33.33% 16.67%
Carlton Brendon Bolton 30 4 2 2 13.33% 50.00% 50.00% 0.00%
Brisbane Lions Chris Fagan 3 1 1 33.33% 100.00% 0.00%

0.00%

Western Bulldogs

Luke Beveridge 53 8 7 1 15.09% 87.50% 12.50% 0.00%
Melbourne Simon Goodwin 3 0 0 0 0.00% N/A N/A

N/A

Total Current   2358 283 129 134 20 12.00% 45.58% 47.35%

7.07%

Table: Top Ten Most Experienced Coaches in Matches Six Points and Under 

Coach

Matches Total +/- six points Win Loss Draw % of games Win % Lose %

Draw %

Mick Malthouse

718 88 35 46 7 12.26% 39.77% 52.27% 7.95%

Jock McHale

713 102 47 45 10 14.31% 46.08% 44.12% 9.80%
Kevin Sheedy 678 74 43 25 6 10.91% 58.11% 33.78%

8.11%

Allan Jeans 575 62 27 33 2 10.78% 43.55% 53.23%

3.23%

Tom Hafey

522 58 32 22 4 11.11% 55.17% 37.93%

6.90%

David Parkin

518 57 29 26 2 11.00% 50.88% 45.61% 3.51%
Ron Barassi 515 62 35 23 4 12.04% 56.45% 37.10%

6.45%

Leigh Matthews

461 61 20 33 8 13.23% 32.79% 54.10% 13.11%
Norm Smith 452 78 35 36 7 17.26% 44.87% 46.15%

8.97%

Dick Reynolds

415 62 28 28 6 14.94% 45.16% 45.16%

9.68%

Total Top Ten 5567 704 331 317 56 12.65% 47.02% 45.03% 7.95%

 

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