during the round nine AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions at Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 22, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.

So many people have said it, but never really has it anyone backed it up with stats. After looking at the numbers we’ll be able to understand how legitimate the old adage that ‘defence wins championships’ truly is.

Based on the highest-ranked attacks in history, a dominant offence is vital when trying to make a run deep into the finals. Nine out of the top 10 highest-ranked attacks in history made it to the grand final.

Just as we ranked the best and worst attacks in history, we will look at Tony Corke’s analysis of the highest and lowest ranked defences of all time for Footballistics; Based on team’s record of points allowed as well as the quality of the attack it is going up against.

The greatest defences in history, according to Tony Corke’s statistical analysis are as follows:

Team (year) Rating
St Kilda (2009) 27.9
West Coast (1994) 26.7
West Coast (1992) 23.8
Carlton (1981) 23.4
Sydney (2006) 23.3
Adelaide (2005) 22.9
Sydney (2005) 22.3
West Coast (1993) 22
Essendon (1981) 21.9
Geelong (1981) 21.6
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Out of the top 10 highest-ranked defenses of all time, only four won the premiership while there are two runner-ups and four teams that didn’t make it to the final game.

However, that may be due to the fact that there are three teams from the 1981 season and two from the 2005 season. All 10 teams were undeniably tough to go up against they had the numbers to back it up.

It’s easy to look at the greatest defences of all time, not as much fun to look at the teams on the other end of the spectrum, although it has to be done. Let’s take a look at the lowest-rated defences of all time according to Corke’s numbers.

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The worst defences are as follows:

Team (year) Rating
Brisbane (2016) -38.6
Greater Western Sydney (2013) -37.1
St Kilda (1899) -36.2
Fitzroy (1996) -33.3
Fitzroy (1995) -33.1
St Kilda (1901) -29.0
Hawthorn (1928) -27.3
Hawthorn (1950) -25.9
Geelong (1945) -25.9
Geelong (1944) -24.2

We’ve seen some very poor defences recently in the AFL. In the past five years, we’ve been witness to the two worst defences of all-time according to Corke’s calculations. Again, much like the lowest-ranked attacks in history, teams may show up on this list more than they’d like.

It comes back to the fact that it’s harder to improve a team than for a team to drop off.

Regardless, all the debates at the water cooler about which team dominated the most in whichever era now has some statistical bearing to back it up.