Parramatta by the numbers and a Word About Sponsors

The Dr left a comment over at The Roar which deserved a follow-up as a seperate blog.

Clearly Parramatta have been underperforming their expectations, but where are they falling short? Look below:

Parramatta by the numbers – averages to Round 7:

– Their Penalty Ratio is 0.78, which is the lowest in the competition

– They make 141 Runs/game, the lowest in the competition

– … Which is caused by the worst Possession stats in the game, 47.5%

– Metres gained at 1233 is second only to the Tigers (1193 as of Round 7)

– Completions are low, but similar to Manly, Storm and Cowboys … the difference being Possession and Metres gained

– Opposition Completions at an average of 29.1 are the highest in the competition, demonstrating a lack of pressure applied)

– Offloads/game are the lowest of any team, indicating little urgency with the ball either

– Halves tackles, a favourite metric of mine, is the lowest of all teams (6.% of all tackled made), meaning they are not doing enough work to alleviate pressure on bigger men and ball runners

– Total halves runs and kicks are also below par, culminating in less than half the Panthers’ kicks last week (what was their game plan? Play in their own half?)

– Tries against are the highest in the league (obviously)

– Tries against them from kicks are nearly 40% of all tries, meaning they also have a poor aerial defence.

Clearly the Eels’ effort was immensely better on Saturday, and that is a welcome relief for Edwards, Stuart & Co. I admire the pride and guts of a guy like Tim Mannah who, if fit, would be in my Origin side.

However, this type of effort ‘alone’ won’t deliver consistent, or even periodic, success. Hanging in and scrapping are valuable traits, but there has to be some (blue and) gold on the other side of the coin, because the minute the effort or concentration slips, the scoreboard begins to bleed.

So how did the Eels do on the above metrics on Saturday when compared to their average for the first seven rounds?

– Penalty Ratio – 1.25 (a solid improvement, considering the average of their last 6 games was 0.66)

– 132 runs (very poor considering the NRL average is mid-150s, and their own was 141)

– Possession – 44.4% – not winning many games from there, whatever the effort

– Metres gained – 1163 (a consequence of Possession, but still a deterioration on 1233, and more than 200m below the NRL average)

– Opposition Completions – 34 of 39, or 87.2% – still insufficient defensive pressure

– Just the four offloads against an NRL average closer to 10

– Halves tackle percentage was at their (low) average – 6.6% – vs the NRL average of over 10%, and the Top-4 near 13%

– Total Halves Runs increased to 14, which engages the defensive line and increases options – this is a welcome sign, and more of this please! Having the defence on its heels is a tremendous starting point.

– Halves Kicks were still less than half those of the opposition

– Just the 3 tries conceded, which is the NRL average and also an improvement

– Tries conceded from kicks didn’t feature

The Eels clearly have a lot to work on, but if Saturday was a guide to the future, attitude is not one of those things.

Improving the stats above is clearly where they need to begin, young (and injured) squad or not. Some of this will come down to such things as the game plan, set plays, angle running and so on, but it is remarkable what a difference it makes to get the basic things right. An extra completion here, a forced opposition non-completion there, and pretty soon you’re on a level playing field with 50% of the ball.

Sponsors – Stay or Leave?

In the post-match press conference, Ricky Stuart hoped that sponsors could remain patient with the team rebuild.

For myself, I would look at a sponsor more favourably if they remained loyal through a club’s disappointing periods. It says a lot about the brand and the personnel involved, and is plain good business. And rugby league is the game of the people, after all.

There is also great value in sponsorship, whether the team is winning or losing. If Parramatta were sponsored by Google, does anyone really believe people would stop googling because Parramatta was on the bottom of the table? The correct answer is no.

A jersey sponsor is about visibility to be sure, but it also indicates loyalty, commitment, a love of the game and a desire to engage fans and other business in its product or service. It’s not about military-style ‘cutting and running’, though it is true that some companies will have periodic changes in direction or complete marketing overhauls.

Pride, passion, determination and the right attitude are the values I would like people to see in my company. I’m sure Pirtek et al are the same.

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