As we approach the 2024 edition of Sir Doug Nicholls Round, each game will have plenty at stake, as fourth through tenth on the ladder are separated by just one game.

Let's take a look at the statistic your club needs to control in Round 10 to ensure they are closer to a finals position after the weekend.

Gold Coast vs Geelong – tackles

In the slippery, humid conditions of the Northern Territory, clean possession of the ball is unlikely to be on display on Thursday night. Games in the Top End often become a scrap, and the tackling count often indicates who wants to win more, with territory advantage an important factor.

In the Suns' game against North Melbourne last week, Gold Coast outtackled the Kangaroos by 22, leading to a 68-point drubbing. Similarly, the Suns had 14 more tackles than the Westen Bulldogs at TIO Stadium last year, winning that match as well.

However, the Cats are the number one tackling side in the league, averaging 67.6 per game.

Despite their injury toll, a defensively-driven Geelong side could prevail against the Suns in the dewy conditions.

Sydney vs Carlton – inside 50s

Averaging 106 points at the SCG this year, the Swans will look to continue providing repeat inside 50 entries to their stacked forward line on Friday. Boasting Isaac Heeney, Errol Gulden and Chad Warner in the midfield mix, it is no wonder Sydney are ranked fourth for inside 50s (56.2 per game).

Contrastingly, Carlton is tenth for inside 50s per game, averaging 52.8. To upset the current ladder leaders at home, the Blues will need to increase their forward 50 entries to provide more scoring opportunities for their tall timbers, Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay. The Blues have been kept below 80 points in their last two matches, and a similar performance against the high-scoring Sydney could place their top eight spot in jeopardy.

Collingwood vs Kuwarna (Adelaide) – stoppage clearances

If the Crows are to be seen as genuine finals contenders, upsetting the reigning premiers at home is a prime opportunity to stake their claim.

Collingwood are in formidable form however, triumphing in five of their last six, the other being a draw.

The Crows' strongest metric presently is their stoppage clearances, ranked second in the AFL by averaging 27.4 per game. The Magpies are ranked 17th in this statistic, averaging just 22 per game.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 26: Scott Pendlebury of the Magpies kicks the ball during the 2022 AFL Round 02 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Adelaide Crows at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 26, 2022 In Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Last year Adelaide (Kuwarna) were dominated by Collingwood in the stoppage clearances, by 16 and eight respectively. Yet, the Crows only lost those two games by a combined margin of three points. If the Crows can win the stoppage clearance this weekend, the result could well and truly be in their favour.

GWS vs Western Bulldogs – goal assists

Two of the more selfless sides in the competition, the Giants and Bulldogs are ranked second and fourth respectively for goal assists (10.9 and 10.1 per game). The amount of goal assists is usually indicative of both the Giants and Bulldogs' performances, especially seen in the Dogs' inconsistent run.

The Bulldogs had 15 goal assists against the Tigers last week in their 91-point smashing, however in their loss to Fremantle, they had only seven.

Similarly for GWS, they only recorded four goal assists in their loss to Essendon last week, but had 13 in their win over Brisbane.

Two teams struggling to obtain consistent form lately, goal assists will be vital in recapturing their best again.

Euro-Yroke (St Kilda) vs Walyalup (Fremantle) – disposals

The Saints and Dockers are two of the best defensive sides in the league, conceding just 77 and 70 points a game on average.

Controlling possession limits their oppositions' chances to attack, which indicates why St Kilda (Euro-Yroke) and Fremantle (Walyalup) utilise disposal-heavy playstyles. Ranked fourth and fifth respectively, the Dockers average 370.4 disposals whilst the Saints average 366.6.

Last year, Fremantle (Walyalup) recorded 44 more disposals, but inaccuracy cost them. However, they still recorded identical scoring shots, highlighting the significance of possession for these clubs.

Expect a low-scoring result this weekend, with either side aiming to control the tempo through possession.

Brisbane vs Richmond – inside 50s

Coming off a stunning draw, the Lions are set to pounce on a wounded Tigers outfit. Brisbane is ranked first for inside 50s this season, averaging 57.9, whilst Richmond is 16th, averaging 47.3.

Attacking play destroyed the Tigers defence against the Bulldogs last week, suffering a 91-point loss at the hands of a staggering 77 inside 50s.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 09: Hugh McCluggage of the Lions in action during the Second Qualifying Final AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and Port Adelaide Power at The Gabba, on September 09, 2023, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Featuring a stacked midfield and dynamic forward line, Brisbane's Zac Bailey, Hugh McCluggage and Joe Daniher average approximately five inside 50s per game. Richmond will need to show some fight to prevent another goalkicking onslaught, as the Lions look to avenge their missed chance at winning last week.

Essendon vs North Melbourne – clearances

The Bombers' rise to a top four spot has come in a flash, but the consistent form of their midfield group has been one developing all season. Zach Merrett, Sam Durham and Archie Perkins have been considerable improvers this year, and their efforts last week against GWS once again verified their quality.

Overall, the Dons are third in the league for clearances per game (38.6). Facing North Melbourne this weekend, who are ranked 14th with 35 per game, the Bombers midfield will go into the clash confident they can win the contest.

Last year, North Melbourne won the clearance count by five, losing by just nine. If the Roos can match the Bombers on Sunday, it gives them every shot to cause a boilover at Marvel.

Yartapuulti (Port Adelaide) vs Hawthorn – turnovers and inside 50s

Hawthorn's latest two wins, coming with a combined margin of just 12, have been largely due to scores off turnovers. The Hawks were either even or beaten in most metrics against the Bulldogs and St Kilda, however they forced plenty of turnovers from the opposition.

Hawthorn could be provided with counterattacking chances again on Sunday, as they take on the fifth-highest turnover team in Port Adelaide (Yartapuulti). Given the Power's attacking gameplan, it is unsurprising that risk-taking ball movement leads to more turnovers. Although it has been working so far, Port Adelaide's (Yartapuulti) high turnover rate could work into Hawthorn's favour.

Nevertheless, Hawthorn was mauled by the Power last year as they were thumped in the inside 50 count, losing it by 20. Enforcing turnovers before Port Adelaide (Yartapuulti) penetrate the arc is where the game will be won for Hawthorn, whilst the Power should rely on their attack to place scoreboard pressure on the Hawks.

Waalitj Marawar (West Coast) vs Naarm (Melbourne) – marks inside 50

The Demons and Eagles are both equally poor for marks inside 50, ranked 15th and 14th respectively. However, in their 2023 matchup, the Demons were strong in the air, clunking 16 as they ran out 63-point winners.

Against quality defence, the Eagles will need Jake Waterman and Jamie Cripps to deliver their best aerial assault on Steven May and Jake Lever, who have limited the influence of the competition's best forwards in recent weeks.

Missing Jacob van Rooyen and Daniel Turner due to injury, the onus is on Bayley Fritsch to lift against the Eagles.