The NRL Round 11 Rubdown

Get a grip, Parramatta!

Poor results are one thing, but poor performances are another. It is the latter that is beginning to cause me concern with respect to the Eels, because the ramifications are not usually appreciated until they hit you in the face. Erosions of club culture and morale are an insidious beasts and have long, underappreciated gestation periods (unlike the taco I had last night).

Right now, the new era at Parramatta is indistinguishable from the last few years. The corner Ricky’s looking for seems further away than I think even he appreciates.

Lookin' for the corner, lookin' for the corner ... this one looks good enough for now ...

Lookin’ for the corner, lookin’ for the corner … this one looks good enough for now …

What the players and management don’t seem to recognise at this point is that money, facilities and other metrics can be attractive to potential recruits, but they are subordinate to club culture and the ethos of being part of a team that has its sights on bigger, more challenging goals.

So when you compare the Eels’ performance versus the Titans to an under-manned (but manly) Sharks last night, is it any wonder that players like Gareth Hock react with horror, and concoct stories to renege on contracts before the ink is even dry? Oh I know, it is being reported as ‘personal reasons’, but I didn’t come down in the last shower. And neither, it seems, did he.

Having lost Josh Papallii at the beginning of the season for, well, personal reasons, and a host of others, this latest snub must surely be giving the clubs’ management cause for in depth soul-searching. If not, it should be. It’s not like the actual future of the club is at stake or anything.

The most popular phrase of 2013 is ‘buying in’, and the Eels players are failing to do this. It has reached the point where control is lost and unintended consequences like Gareth Hock begin to emerge from left field. The results can be catastrophic. The idea is to react swiftly to these events before they get out of hand.

Don’t be like bankers, economists and governments who seem to have learned very little from the GFC. You can be better than that! And you don’t want Hoppa thinking twice as well …

Panthers – deserving of a top 8 spot

A little further along the Motorway we have an example of what can happen when a team actually does ‘buy in’ and, at the same time, take the hearts and minds of Western Sydney hostage!

Refusing to allow the non-retention of current captain Kevin Kingston to distract them, the Panthers have reacted manfully to an injury list that could have ended their season before it began.

Having pumped the Raiders early, the following four weeks of losses belied the quality of football they were actually playing. Since then, they have had a 4-1 record. The loss to the Roosters in between, while comfortable, didn’t really highlight how well they played for most of that game.

They are a ‘big side with a good work ethic, and the real evidence of their commitment is in their defence. The last five games have yielded only 58 points for their opponents, which includes the Storm. On a 3-game rolling average basis, they peaked at 34 points in round five, which has dropped consistently to a now miserly 5 points. Points scored on this rolling average basis has doubled to 31.

Think about that as a metric for improvement!

Their discipline sees them right near the top in terms of completions and possession, as well as tries scored, yielding a fairly predictable map of their performances below. In short, the more possession they have vis-a-vis the opposition, the more their points differential improves. Clearly is clearly doing something right.

Work out the possession differential and you've pretty much picked the margin too!

Work out the possession differential and you’ve pretty much picked the margin too!

I’m guessing that some of the players who turned them down recently might be wishing they hadn’t next year.

The conundrum and mystery that is the Warriors

Serenity now!

Serenity now!

First there was Lazarus, then there Lazarus with a triple bypass. The Warriors have now joined the list of unlikely comebacks, responding to a record loss and a tendency to beat themselves in the final quarter of matches with a performance that was just startling,.

It also meant that we were spared Matt Elliot committing hari kari with his tie again.

Leaving aside the fact that the teams who have been completely crushed one week have invariably responded with a win (so why didn’t I pick the Titans??!), the Warriors actually have an abundance of talent. So it’s hard to reconcile how the Warriors reached the position in which they find themselves now.

Don’t forget they have severely tested the top three sides in the competition, beaten the Cowboys, lost to the Titans by a point, and totally dominated the Raiders before losing it down the stretch.

Clearly they are more resilient at home, yet they seem destined for a bottom four placing this season.

If they can manage to repeat the weekend’s stats, which included 90% more runs than the prior week (no joke), 74% more metres, about 60% more sets and completions and halving their missed tackles, then maybe they can have more of a say in their ultimate 2013 fate.

  vs Panthers vs Knights % change
       

Runs

101

192

90

Metres

902

1565

74

Possession

38.8

54.9

41

Metres/Runs

8.9

8.2

-9

Tackles

331

328

-1

Missed Tackles

37

19

-49

Missed Tackles %

11.18

5.79

-48

Tackle Ratio (Work)

1.41

0.98

-30

Sets

24

38

58

Completions

16

26

63

Completions %

66.67

68.42

3

Offloads

7

18

157

Errors

10

11

10

Line Breaks

3

5

67

Tries

1

5

400

Half Runs

1

9

800

5/8 Runs

5

10

100

Half Kicks

4

8

100

5/8 Kicks

3

7

133

Halves Tackles

30

37

23

Are the Top & Bottom four teams in already?

Looking at the progression of For & Against points, along with the NRL ladder, is it safe to conclude our top and bottom four teams have been decided?

The top four looks about right for this stage of the season, and the Rabbitohs and Roosters losing on the weekend and narrowing the gap between them smells right too.Top 8

The Rabbitohs have beaten two of the top four teams, as have the Storm. Their positions at the top are well earned and make sense. The 3rd-placed Roosters have beaten just one of the top four teams, while Manly have not beaten any of them. Even so, they are more than worthy sitting in 4th, and it is nigh on impossible seeing any other team breaking into this group.

The Knights have had a good draw and have been inconsistent enough to conclude that 5th is as high as they will go this year, and are unlikely to even stay there given injuries, Origin and playing the better teams will stall their progress significantly. The Titans are similar.

 The bottom four seems highly likely to include the Tigers, Eels and Warriors. The 4th spot in this uninspiring group seems likely to go to the Dragons or Bulldogs. As good as they were last year, the Bulldogs’ draw (as noted previously) gets very difficult again in a couple of weeks, and is far more challenging than that of the Dragons.

Watch that cliff!

Watch that cliff!

State of Origin

There will be more to say on this subject as the manic countdown to SOO1 continues, and I really don’t have much to complain about with respect to NSW selections with the exception of the Nathan Merritt no-show.

The point to make about this year’s series is that the signs for NSW are far, far better than in years past. With two home games and a young, yet strangely experienced side, they have the thrust to change the SOO dynamic for the next few years.

NSW is in the enviable position of being able to choose from a long list of players in red hot form, particularly in the halves and outside backs (soon to be joined by John Sutton as far as the whisoers go).

When was the last time we were this spoiled for choice?

Secondly, the Queenslanders have mimicked the Blues’ selection choices by picking what they feel is a more mobile team containing only two props.

Responding to NSW? What gives? This is unusual for Queensland, and hints (to me, at least) that they are more concerned about handing the title back south than they have been in many years. If it weren’t for some awful refereeing last year (which is sure to be repeated this year if form is a guide), then we’d be defending the trophy this year with two home games.

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3 thoughts on “The NRL Round 11 Rubdown

  1. Re: Stuart He’s an Origin coach not a club coach.

    I’m not so confident re: Origin and I will comment

    Pearce : Does nothing
    Ferguson : Pomeroy played better than him 2 weekends ago-enough said
    Gidley : Thank goodness he’s injured
    Morris : The wing one, back from injury, big deal.
    Whatmough : No Gallen. I’d prefer Grant and Gallen play back row

    Good thing is tide is turning and we are starting to have depth. QLD don’t.

    I’m thinking QLD to win series again. I hope for goodness sake I’m wrong and Daley is a master!

    • Gawd, I hope it’s not Qld again. That would be the biggest anti climax since … since … since NSW decided to end the torture of bench-gate with their decision tonight not toile a decision.

      Pearce : his kicking game needs to improve – a lot. Bit he has been playing better this year. Not sure Reynolds has done enough to displace him. He’s not exactly a take-it-to-the-line guy.

      Ferguson : Pomeroy? He sees dead people … Who else could he have been passing to against the Dogs in a 400 on 1 overlap situation? 🙂

      Gidley : Very versatile, I get that. What I don’t understand is why NSW persist with a gap plugging strategy. Pick the best positions, not jack of all trades. Not for Origin.

      Morris : If he’s 100pc, no problem. I’m sure Merritt is next on the list if req’d … I hope …

      Whatmough : No Gallen? Did I misunderstand?

      Grant should be starting F/R without doubt. He had a great series last year, and Gallen at prop is an awful move. He’s lock on the Dr’s team, with Hoffman and Lewis starting back rowers.

      Sent from my iPhone

    • Sorry Brooks, I forgot to respond to the Ricky point.

      I agree!

      A no-nonsense approach is sometimes a welcome relief to a team, who also appreciate a leader with a strong opinion. The problem arises when oppressive seriousness and surliness fail to give way to a more objective and corroborative approach.

      It really seems like the initial effect wears off, and intractability and lack of flexibility wears thin after a season or two. The evidence points that way.

      But in short doses in Origin format … yep, I can see it.

      I could be wrong …

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