Nirranda's season even more impressive when the numbers are broken down

Simply the best: It was no secret Nirranda had an impressive season. But when you break down the statistics it was even more incredible than first thought.
Simply the best: It was no secret Nirranda had an impressive season. But when you break down the statistics it was even more incredible than first thought.

It’s easy to see why Nirranda finished the season on top.

The Blues won every key statistic possible. And not by a small amount, they were head and shoulders above the rest of the Warrnambool and District league competition, in terms of numbers.

Defensively Nirranda gave teams little hope of kicking a winning score, conceding just 543 points for the season, at an average of 33.93 per game.

That was 231 points less than any other side.

Co-coach Shane Threlfall said the numbers were impressive, though not overly surprising.

"I guess scores against is the important one and what we looked at initially, because we have built our whole plan around team defence,” he said.

"Team defence is our cornerstone and that's what we have concentrated on right from day one, it's our strength, so scores against is a good indicator that it’s working well."

Defender and assistant coach Brayden Harkness said sticking to the strategy was a key.

"The coaches have instilled confidence and belief in the game plan," he said.

"And the longer you use a certain game plan, the more familiar people are with it. We train for it and use it right across the club with our reserves as well.

"So when players come in they know the system and how we play and they are able to step right in and play it well.”

Harkness said the game plan was not rocket science.

"We pride ourselves on the press which we play and have been doing for a few years now," he said.

"We simply do press up on the opposition and strangle them and it has been working well.”

Nirranda lost just two matches for season.

The Blues won 14, including seven games by over 100 points, with an average winning margin of 79.

Harkness said the back six forced itself not to become complacent.

"We'll assess at each break and see where we are and set goals to try to limit the opposition to a certain amount of points," he said.

"It keeps you honest and focused, especially in the big wins. That way you don't slip away from the game plan, because in some lighter weeks there’s potential to fall into bad habits or get ahead of yourself."

Nirranda’s game might be built on defence, but it is just as impressive offensively.

The Blues scored 1907 points in their 16 matches, a noticeable 346 more than any other team.

Threlfall said his team executed a more rounded game style in 2018.

"This year we focused on being attacking at times and certainly made a conscious effort to open up our game more,” he said.

"That was certainly helped by the personnel we got and we have got good players in the forward half.

"So that made it harder for teams to match up and made us less predictable and gave us more options, which was reflected in the good spread of goal-kickers."

The Blues had three players in the top-10 goal-kickers in the league, and five in the top 15.

Collectively the five booted 191 goals for the season.

Star forward and assistant coach Travis Graham said the number could have been higher.

"It would be more impressive if Big Show (Robinson) didn't miss so many. He has had the yips a bit this season," he said.

Graham’s cheap crack at Robinson summed up the chemistry in the forward line – business most of the time, but no shortage of banter.

The former Warrnambool star, who booted 45 majors for the season, said the goal-kicking power was a welcome problem.

“It took us a while to all get together and play good footy, but as the year has gone on we got used to it and work well together,” he said.

“It will be interesting to see if all four go into finals. It would be hard to match up on us all.”