NRL Prelim Finals – Penalties, Damn Penalties & Equality

As the occasional readers of this blog will know, the Dr regards the NRL season as two separate and distinct competitions – home and away, and finals. It really doesn’t make sense to view it otherwise given it isn’t an ‘EPL’ model without the knockout feature, and winning the Minor Premiership has very little meaning (even to the winners who don’t even bank a cheque worth noting). It’s merely another brick in the road to ultimate glory.

If you doubted the difference between the two competitions, just take a look at how the Knights have performed in the finals so far. Having been utterly awful leading into the finals, they have transformed themselves into a unit formidable enough to be the favourite amongst many commentators to beat the actual Minor Premiers this Saturday.

Finals, particularly ‘last chance saloon’ matches (and the Knights have surprised me by winning two in a row), are a different hurdle altogether, mixing mental toughness and the ability to perform under intense pressure with passion, desire and yes, talent.

So you can see why I have the views I do.

Going a step further, it would seem that the game changes yet again for the final two weeks of the finals.

The change is subtle, but it’s hard to escape the idea that the referees are ‘directed’ to keep penalties to a minimum and stay ‘out’ of the game. I like this approach, preferring to allow both teams in Preliminary Finals and Grand Finals the equal opportunity to overcome their opponents with a minimum of ‘official’ interference, and the spectacle is far superior as well.

The stats from the last five years incorporating 2008 through 2012 highlight this.

The 10 Preliminary Finals during this period average an even 10 penalties per game which, if replicated this weekend, compares favourably to the more than 13 penalties blown during an average club match in 2013.

Even more interesting is the ‘home bias’ reflected in penalty counts, home teams having won 7/10. The average penalty count is 5.3/4.7 to the home team.

For Grand Finals it’s lower again, averaging just 7.8.

Which, if any, team will benefit from this approach to awarding fewer penalties?

Based on the flow of penalties in 2013, the answer seems pretty obvious. The Roosters will gain a significant boost.

Having been on the wrong end of 11-5 and 12-5 penalty counts in the last two weeks (and winning), they would be more than satisfied only giving away the average gap of the last 10 Preliminary Finals – two.

Or even the widest gap of those finals – three.

Having won only 22% of penalty counts this year, the Roosters would likely thrive on not only a smaller gap between teams (or even winning a penalty count), but also a low number of penalties in aggregate. They also haven’t had a positive ‘net’ penalty count season since 2004. I’m sure they’d appreciate some low numbers this week, as opposed to 17 of them and only ‘earning’ five of them.

The Knights on the other hand have won about 54% of penalty counts, which is far more advantageous, and a hallmark of Wayne Bennett-coached sides.

Manly will also benefit from low penalty counts given they have been in the referee’s crosshairs this year. They have won just 38.5% of penalty counts in 2013, while their opponents, the Rabbitohs, at 48%, are closer to the Knights’ result.

So, there are a couple of cross currents working for and against them as far as penalties go, but both the Chooks and Manly are going to be awfully hard to beat if they can achieve penalty equality.

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NRL Semi Finals – Week 2, Part 2

Storm vs Knights

I had to pause before I wrote that. Knights?

Yep, that’s them. The team whose form was going downhill faster than Franz Klammer on a winter’s day in Kitzbuehl. The team whose form couldn’t even be described as mutton dressed up as lamb because it was more roadkilll dressed up as mutton.

The Knights nearly blew a Top 8 spot blessed with one of the easiest draws in the NRL  six weeks out from the finals. If they had played any team other than the foundation stone of the NRL ladder in Round 26, it’s debatable whether they would’ve made it all!

For all intents and purposes, they looked to be to the NRL semi finals what the chiko roll is to the culinary world.

And yet, there they were last week, and here they are this week, one of the five remaining teams and still not having beaten a Top 4 team, but expected by some hardy souls to go on a tear and beat three of them consecutively.

As romantic a notion as that may be, I won’t be lighting a candle and preparing duck a l’orange for them tonight. Maybe a chiko roll. Parramatta made them look like world beaters, and the Bulldogs last week followed on from a Round 26 defeat by the Broncos – the Broncos! – to remind everyone they were a tired team. Tired of a long season, and tired of each other, especially the troublesome little hairdresser at fullback.

From about the 10th minute mark last Sunday the Doggies wouldn’t have beaten an egg, but the Knights are somehow being anointed as the team ‘on a run’ having beaten them. I guess each finals series needs the underdog to capture the public’s imagination seeing as they can’t seem to be bothered actually going to a game, and the Knobbly Knights fit the bill now that the Cowboys lost on a TKO decision.

Now, I like an underdog, particularly an old one with old tricks whose leg shakes when you tickle them on the tummy. And I can appreciate the concept of experience being invaluable, or some other similar cliche, but I’m not sure what Dane Gagai is going to do with pointers on ‘feet across’ and ‘loose arms’. And what the hell is ‘shepherding’?

We are about to see a fast-starting Knights get taught a lesson in finals football, I think. I seem to remember them having a bit of experience too!  Beating Melbourne in a finals context is going to be harder than chewing a mouthful of hair.

The Knights have lost their last 7 games against the Storm, and haven’t won at AAMI. The sheer weight of finals experience within the Storm team, and distinct lack of it in recent years at the Knights, should become quite apparent during the match, even if the stats this year are remarkably similar in many respects. Who’d have thought?

The following numbers are expressed (per match, mostly) as Knights/Storm (you’ll see what I mean):

They receive and give about 6 penalties per match.

Both teams make about the same amount of runs (159/158) and tackles (317/320), and miss a similar percentage of them (8.3%/7.3%).

Sets per game average around 38, and they complete similarly (78.3%/76.5%).

Errors are 9.3/10.5, and line breaks 4/4.8.

Tries are almost matched at 96/102, and ‘net’ tries are 22/27.

And yet, the Knights can’t crack them! Still, the equality of these metrics and recent close games mean that Melbourne won’t be taking them lightly, and will be on higher alert than Jessica Simpson on a cold night.

A lot is being made about the coach, Wayne Bennett, but I think he and Craig Bellamy cancel each other out to the point of dropping it entirely as a subject. In terms of TV viewer entertainment though, Bellamy is a cracker. I’m praying for some dud calls and will have popcorn at the ready. I just hope Kevin Walters has a chamois for the perspex.

As I see it, the Knights will be hoping for a match where the play-the-ball is as slow as last night’s Manly-Sharks game given the Storm thrive on speed (not that kind …). And they will be hoping to control over 50% possession because they are a team that thrive with the ball (they can’t win the ‘Roosters way’), while doing relatively poorly if they are asked to defend for extended periods.

And the idea floating about that the Storm looks vulnerable is preposterous on its face. Here’s a team that put 60 points on two different teams within a month, is beaten controversially by the Rabbitohs, but is suddenly ‘out of form’. Sorry, but they will be far too classy for the Knights, and a ferocious match for the Roosters Next week.

Here’s another stat, but one that splits the teams like an enormous wedge – the Storm have played only 9 matches out of 24 with possession under 50%. The Knights have played 15 with less possession than the opposition. As Gussy would say, “That’s finals football!” As we all know, possession is 9/10ths of the law, and illegal in most jurisdictions (depending upon who you know), but in rugby league, it is a considerable virtue.

How quickly people forget the Big 5 (where I include Hoffman and Chambers). It’s a bit like looking at the Raiders team in the 80s and 90s in the context of talent pool. Smith and Cronk lay a fast platform for the likes of the other members of the Big 5 to menace opposition defences while the other storm trooper clones make sure the defensive structure is tighter than a fish’s backside.

The odd fart joke is guaranteed to break big Willie Mason’s concentration, while waving a prescription pad usually does the trick to a few of the older gentlemen on the Knights roster. If that doesn’t work, a few undetectable forward passes back on the inside will do the trick, or sending a few troops BJ’s way, whose strength is not counting.

The Knights have more potential to make things happen in their forward pack as far as I’m concerned given the presence of Mason, Scott and Smith. They are unpredictable, but can generate some awesome forwards rolls at times. The Storm? Well, they’re very effective, but workmanlike.

The Knights’ real thrust and danger to opposition sides is, of course, the enormously gifted Jarrod Mullen, who is just one letter away from mullet, and one exceptional game from locking in a major preliminary final. Now, rugby league players are a funny lot, and it seems it only took a masterful comment from Wayne Bennett to unleash his full talent. If only previous coaches had thought of this before!

Melbourne will want to watch his scheming ways that ignite his pacy and elusive backline, but he would be a lot more effective if he ran more often. after all, he is strong, he has pace off the mark, and has an arse in the Joey Johns mould. These critters are pretty hard to tackle when they’re covered in reef oil.

Like last night, this match looks set to be eventful, skilful and pulsating. I think the Storm will prevail well in the end, but have some nervous moments in the 3/4s of the match.

Enjoy. I will be!

NRL Semi Finals – Week 2, Part 1

Manly vs sharks

I’m so glad we have these two teams fighting out the opportunity to play the Bunnies next week, because otherwise the footage of ‘the most violent Grand Final ever’ would still be gathering dust in some musty archive room (or, these days, gathering bugs on someone’s hard drive).  We wouldn’t have been able to see footage of Cliffy Watson leaning on the goalposts like he was trying to turn a few pre-match tricks, and we wouldn’t have been able to see him in his 2013 form sharing thoughts on how to most effectively maim someone.

Don’t get me wrong, it was an all-time classic final, but I’ve never been a fan of cheap shots and wanton violence unless a Kardashian is involved. While my evil self bathes in the toughness of that game, the new-age angel on my other shoulder finds something a little incongruous about the media  trying to sell one particular game in the history of these two teams as the prototype for this final.

In a way, this touches on yesterday’s blog about being on the same page as the NRL in terms of what it’s trying to achieve. Personally, I’d rather be hearing about the majesty of Manly’s back line, which flows more impressively than a senior citizen on Ford Pills. I want to hear more about their back row, as equally gifted in attack and defence (pardon the pun) as an economist asked to give a forecast. And I just need to hear more in general about Gorgeous George Rose and Brent Kite. Where the the hell is the 2-page profile on each? Where?!

Where is the in-depth expose from ‘deep within the trenches’ of exactly how the Sharks have managed, in some superhuman way, to grind their way to within an inch of a Grand Final playoff (because I think that tonight will be close enough to measure in inches … Or multiples of 7 … or 5). Could it be because the media have made themselves untrustworthy? What about those who profess to be close to them? Hmm, is complaining without solution a better option than a piece the fans would love, and which would serve the game?

I want to hear more about how Beau Ryan was orphaned as a child and taken in and raised by Steve Vizard and Eric Bana, who turned him into a Ricky Martin-looking, football playing comedic genius. Where’s my Tele lift out?

And I want to hear about man mountain Ben Pomeroy’s dark days before round 18 when he still hasn’t learned how to pass. What shape was his mind in? What Rocky-like passing drills was he forced to endure?

Do I ask too much? Oh well, I guess we got Cliffy.

Anyhow, as well as the Sharks have done in the face of the ASADA investigation, I can’t help but feel they will meet their match tonight. Manly will be bruised from last week’s torture test with the Roosters, but is was them doing most of the torturing.

Their forwards, like those in Sharks jerseys, are tough and uncompromising, which should cancel out almost completely. Actually, they have more x-factor in the form of Brenton Lawrence, who can’t pass to save himself, but is the fastest prop I’ve ever seen. Manly’s edge is the duo of left and right edges, capable in defence with Matai in particular always looking to send runners to an early grave, and electrifying in attack on the right where the ventriloquist lets his scything runs do the talking and making the Wolfman look good. ‘Woogie’ (aka Glenn Stewart) will be missing brother and muse ‘Snake’, but is the Ken Done of right side attack – creative and with uncommon flair, but sometimes making you throw the hands up exclaiming “what the f— was that?!”

Without the point-scoring thrust of Todd Carney, who would be a massive liability were he to play given his hammy is in worse shape than those located around Darlinghurst, Manly should have more points in them tonight.

The battle of the beaches will be close. It will be epic and brutal, though not in a 1973 way. But the only winner here is the Rabbitohs. Backing up next Friday for either of these teams will be harder than Chinese maths.

When E-squared fails to come full circle

What happens when you lose a blog somewhere, somehow, and its just too painful to rewrite? You get a waffle like this …

The NRL has had another week where it must be wondering ‘what’s the bleeding point?’

You can’t please everyone all the times, but the NRL can’t seem to please anyone at all right now!

It is steadily losing the battle of engagement (with the fans and the media and, if it’s not careful, the clubs too). And if the Allianz Stadium entertainment coughed up last Saturday is any guide, well it looks like they’re on the back foot there too. I always find its best to own up to a stuff up, and after all, rugby league is the epicentre of forgiveness, for anything no less, is it not? You can’t engage when you’re trying to put one over the fans. Trust me, NRL, you will be better for it.

It seems so long ago now that a bright-eyed, fresh-faced CEO stepped into what he thought was a fluff piece interview designed to ease him into the job, trotted out a bit of new-age management-speak in the form of E-squared (engagement and entertainment … and jumping castles), and has been unable to right the listing ship from there.

Now, some of the NRL’s problems are of their own making – ok, a lot, and we’ll get to that – but it certainly isn’t being helped by the constant undermining throughout the media, which has been using its bully pulpit to fan the flames of fan disaffection for the entirety of the season. In so doing, it is diverting attention from what is an awesome product and distancing fans from the game, though it would never admit that.

The unfortunate part about this is that the NRL and its media partners should be considered (especially by themselves, as a matter fact) as a consolidated, symbiotic whole. They are in this together and feed off each other. The NRL gives commentators the opportunity and space to fill pages of copy that cover a wide array of subjects, from game previews and reviews, to news and developments and profiles, right through to the potentially incendiary opinion pieces. It is quite simply a rich source of material.

The media on the other hand is the vehicle through which the NRL can market the game. It publicises and propagates the game by engaging its own readers. It is one of the ways the NRL can engage the fans, whose excitement and interest build through the week leading to matches, and who spend half of the next analysing every last play. The whole process should be a virtuous circle.

Given the interdependence between the two, it’s therefore difficult to understand why many in the media approach rugby league as if it were their mortal enemy. In some cases it is downright impossible to discern a love of the game, let alone an appreciation of it. There is always room for constructive criticism, which is actually helpful, and infinitely preferable to the outrageous slings and arrows of poisonous keyboards that assassinate character faster than Sylvester Stallone can murder dialogue. Yet, there has been a distinct lack of suggestions or recommendations from this source, precisely the opposite of what you’d expect in a perfect world where those whose bread is buttered by the NRL have a distinctive interest in helping to improve the game.

Part of growing the game is having the stakeholders pulling in the same direction. Some would counter that it seems to be doing rather well in terms of increasing salary caps and broadcasting deals despite the internecine relationship between the NRL and media. I would counter that by suggesting where the game is situated now is better defined as settling rather than striving, and there is a significant amount of work to be done to take it to the next level.

The NRL needs to help heal the media relationship, but first it needs to heal itself and re-engage its stakeholders who have become disillusioned at the Inspector Clouseau-like progress they have made throughout the year.

Organisations don’t grow and flourish from a macro perspective (top down). They grow by building a stable and sustainable foundation, They grow from the micro level, in other words. It can be no other way, and kudos to David Smith and team for recognising this, reorganising the team, and beginning on the road to redemption. Results are now key, but it’s almost like they have so many things to accomplish, they don’t quite know where to begin, even with the new silo approach.

What I think I see here is the (the very real) Ziegarnik effect – the state of mental tension and imbalance that is caused by uncompleted tasks. I’m sure we can all understand the feeling of not having even one extra atom of space in our head for more information. Because the brain becomes overburdened during these periods, it doesn’t have the space required for the information to move about and reorganise effectively. Quite simply, it is locked into a state of paralysis, and little to no progress is made – on anything.

Sounds quite like the situation the NRL finds itself in currently, doesn’t it?

This is where it becomes crucial to not only define and prioritise your tasks and focus on delivering each one in order, but also to do it effectively. Multitasking on a grand scale, especially with so many moving and contingent parts such as in the NRL, is a road to precisely nowhere. And they sure as hell are not getting the support outside the game that would assist them in this endeavour.

The result so far has been a slow drip of solutions that haven’t been prompt enough, many of which have been misdiagnosed and misdirected, and which are struggling to coalesce into a coherent strategy, yet this is what the NRL management need to sell to a sceptical fan base.

Each fan, each club, and each stakeholder of whatever type needs to know the game is being organised around a set of key, well publicised principles that are easily measured (I would be starting with ticketing policy and crowds as a matter of priority, the standard of refereeing, and tweaking the rules to make the game an even better spectacle, just to start). I have confidence this will happen under David Smith, even though this year has been a slow start.

But first, they need to engage with stakeholders.

Open discussion is useful. Passion is useful. Talking to people with different views and perspectives is extremely useful.

I remember having a client who was a real pain in the arse, abusing anybody at the slightest provocation (or even without on the days where the Prozac hadn’t kicked in).

But rather than take the bait (client is always right, right?) and react without considered thought, there was a lesson to be learned that worked for us. Hard to imagine, I know.

The positive lesson learned from this was that, hey, he might have underdeveloped frontal lobes and social skills, but let’s examine whether he has a point before reacting. His method of expression may have been obnoxious, but if his complaints actually had some value, could it possibly be that our more mild-mannered clients were thinking the same thing, but were too polite and non-confrontational to say it?

Needless to say, the situation turned out to be a net positive because the complaints were well (and loudly!) defined and structured, and we were under no illusions as to what was expected from us.

This is a lesson the NRL and the media might well heed. The game itself doesn’t need to engage the fans – it already has. The NRL needs to engage the fans and restore an element of trust in its stewardship of the game. At the same time, the media need to provide more valuable input to go with what is currently just criticism From the grasses knoll.

Lastly, if you got this far, you need to closely examine yourself!

 

 

NRL Semis – Rabbitohs vs Storm

Now that the NRL Semi Finals are upon us, the elevated sense of excitement is upon us again, and it is palpable.

The atmosphere in the air is thicker than a composite of Jaymes Diaz and seasonal sililoquoys, and there will be more more cliches than you can poke a stick at. Rest assured, we will be bathing in the them until the cows come home.

Not only are cliches per capita set to go on a tear like a Todd Carney hamstring, but we will be able to while away the hours with the inevitable player profiles each time we open the back pages. I love September.

We will learn how John Sutton’s daughter gave him the focus to become the player he is today, how Anthony Watmough secretly adores kittens and sunset strolls on the beach, and how rugby league saved the wayward Jared Warea-Hargreaves from the horrors of life as a golf pro.

We will learn that the government’s neglect of R&D expenditure forced Ben Pomeroy away from a career of splitting atoms and quarks into the warm embrace of rugby league, swapping equations and white lab coats for bicep curls and coat hangers.

In short, we will learn that rugby league’s gain, is humanity’s loss.

And all this will come to a head this weekend, beginning with the Bunnies, whose history shows 19 Premierships (and one dodgy one), but without success in most league fans’ lifetimes who still have their own teeth. The last time a Rabbitoh held the trophy aloft, George Piggins still attended games. In fact, he played in them! Men were hairier than a barber shop floor, children were the remote control, and Julian Assange was hatched, his mother having escaped from a human cyborg with an Austrian accent sent back in time.

Not only that, but we had two political parties that were actually distinguishable from one another, though the elephant-like ears of our Prime Ministers (McMahon and Abbot) seems to have stood the test of time. Some fashions never go out of style.

But will the Rabbitohs lack of success over two generations stand the test of time? Will Reynolds’ hamstring hold out this time? Will they hold their nerve in the way the 1989 juggernaut couldn’t? And the Sharks team from the year before …

They face a team led by the game’s 2nd greatest thinker, a veritable X-Men character whose superpower enables his hands to merge with the ball when it is held by an attacking player on the ground, but which cannot be picked up by any of the referees on and off the ground. He strips more efficiently than Miley Cyrus, and he skips out of dummy half like a metronome (not a midget taking the subway). His habit of catching retreating defences with their pants down tends to excite some, but it is usually a painful experience on the scoreboard.

When he’s not doing this, he’s feeding Cooper Cronk sublime spiral passes so that he can deliver tricky inside balls a metre forward to a scintillating Billy Slater who, fresh from shoulder charging an opponent and sending them into la-la-land without sanction, takes his chances that often result in runaway tries. Once again, Smith’s powers know no bounds.

Will Chambers will be encumbered somewhat with a specially-fitted cod piece, but the flow of their game should not be interrupted by a run of Jason Ryles-inspired penalties, who seems to have lost his knack for giving away cheap yards after leaving the Roosters.

Here’s how the game stacks up in chart form if we were to take all points scored by both teams during the year, those scored against them, and at what point during games:Rabbitohs Tracker

If tonight’s match was an exact average of all 24 matches played by both teams this year, this is how it would play out.

And here is a quick synopsis of each team’s 2013 stats:Rabbitohs Storm Season Summary

You will immediately notice the similarities from the first line (penalties for and against) to the last (points).

Possession has been similar over the long haul, with the Bunnies having the edge in metres gained and breaking opposition tackles. They therefore have tended to have a lower work ratio to tire them out.

Errors, line breaks and tries almost even out, but the difference in 5/8 runs can be seen quite clearly. That shouldn’t change tonight, whether Finch or Widdop (particularly) play. The Bunnies can shut down a lot of attacking raids given the Storm’s reluctance to have their halves take on the line more regularly.

The one stat I took out (because I got lazy late in the season) is tries from kicks. The Bunnies lead the way with about a third of all their points stemming from kicks, far higher than al other teams except the Sharks and Tigers with about 20%. Dare I suggest we will see more of the same tonight?

The Storm have a habit of switching off after half time, and I’ve noted this before (and you can sense it in the chart above), which could be enough to decide the match if it is as close as I expect.

However, the Bunnies haven’t quite rectified their off periods, which was written about in the press today, but which was identified here as far back as the Charity Shield match.

If you want the trends and issues identified early, you come to the Dr!

The point then, and even more valid today, is that their performances had to become a habit, and clocking off needed to be eradicated early lest it become the same habit that afflicted them in 2012. Like picking your nails and scratching your … you can’t just stop on a dime!

The Bunnies and their fans must be truly horrified at facing the Storm. They haven’t looked like beating them this year, and must have been aghast when the Panthers overcame Manly.

They haven’t been able to exceed 50% possession against them (which is probably a good thing if they’re off the Bali for an end-of-season trip), and have shared the honours (without winning) in the metres gained aspect. But if the Storm are allowed more than 50% possession and too many metres, this is what they generally tend to do (see the arrows pointing the Souths games):Storm Scatter v Rabbitohs

Basically, as little as 100-200 net metres conceded could be very painful for the Bunnies, who still appear to have injury concerns with the great GI. I don’t care what anyone says (and press statements by coaches and others aren’t delivered under oath), because the majestic swoops into the backline in Round 1 that had the Roosters in a panic were nowhere to be found last week, or in preceding weeks.

Reynolds’ new running game as highlighted in the press some time ago lasted about five minutes, and whether it has something to do with the 25 bandages his legs are encased in these days or not, John Sutton is going to have to be the running and link player we know he can be, but for 80 minutes. Burgii-inspired retreating defences don’t particularly appreciate a man of his size then having them flat-footed and in two minds.

I for one will be barracking for the Rabbitohs tonight, because the result of this game will set the tone for the entire series. Should the Storm win and Roosters lose, the Storm will all of a sudden, almost out of nowhere really, be catapulted into a home Grand Final qualifier against either the Roosters, Cowboys or Sharks, and it will be difficult to see them losing against any of them at AAMI. it will be much more interesting (to me, at least) to see them on the road.

Manly, on the other hand, have the wood on the Storm, even when the Storm are at home, making a qualifier between these two teams too difficult to call.

I might put something up about the the Roosters-Manly match, but I don’t think I can improve on a pretty comprehensive preview over at www.26rounds.com.

That’s all I can be bothered with for now. The next important decision to be made will be pizza toppings.

Enjoy.

The 2013 NRL Season in Charts Pt 2 – Defence and Penalties

Defence

Missed Tackle Percent

And here’s one that I devoted an entire blog to many moons ago:Halves tackle Percentage

Work ratio is another metric I like to look at because it’s a measure of how much defensive work a team is being forced to do relative to their opposition. The Bulldogs,  Cowboys, Bunnies and Knights are the standouts in being able to conserve the most energy, while the Sharks and Manly are mid-field.

The Roosters and Storm have, for one reason or another, had to earn their wins the hard way.

Tigers and Eels? Well, they’re almost off the chart!

Work Ratio

One thing that places defences under stress is the amount of errors a team makes, but if you look at the following chart, the only sensible conclusion you can make is that it is important when and where the errors are made, because each team is pretty similar in number:Errors

Looking at the Broncos above and combining their top placing in completions per game, you have to wonder why they were so disappointing this year. The penny drops when you look at the missed tackles percentage above, along with the amount of tries they scored. They were well down the list, average about 3 tries per game, and also had a negative net tries difference (see yesterday’s attack-focused Part 1).

Penalties

Make of these what you will. The disparity seems to large in some areas (ie. statistically significant).penalties per round

Penalty Ratio

Penalties Difference

Penalty Counts Won

The 2013 NRL Season in Charts Pt1 – How’d Your Team Go?

Taking a break from yesterday’s word-fest, let’s say it mostly in pictures today.

Below you will find a series of charts that, like yesterday, seem to go on forever. But don’t be fooled – there is valuable information in them that the final eight combatants might like to take on board.

Take these two, for example:1st v 2nd half points_season1st v 2nd half points_from rd21Over the course of the season, all teams apart from the Broncos and Eels scored marginally more points in the 2nd than the 1st.

But look at the performance from Round 21 onwards. The Storm and Roosters (and the Cowboys and Bulldogs to a lesser extent) have been monumental laggards in the 1st half compared to what can only be described as rampaging 2nd halves.

The clear standout performer in 1st halves of late has been Manly. Watch out Roosters in your double/triple/quadruple-header on Saturday – you won’t catch them if they’re three tries up. Bad starts can’t be taken into the finals if you want to be taken seriously.

The clear anomaly is the Rabbitohs. Now, I’m more than aware they had a tough closing draw, but so did the entire Top 4. It’s not the distribution of points that is the concern, it’s the amount. Of all Top 4 points from Round 21, the Bunnies have contributed just 16% of them (the others 25-30%). Finals aren’t expected to be high-scoring affairs, but this brings into some doubt their ability to score enough points to win.

For & AgainstFor and Against_top 8

For and Against_bottom 8

Attack

Yes, I refuse to call it ‘offence’.

Look at the Rabbitohs losing control of the metres game over the back half of the season … and tell me the Cows haven’t had it on a string coming into the finals.

Net Metres Top 4

Possession

Completions per Match

Completions Percentage

Games and 50pc Possession

Total Tries

 

 

 

 

 

I dare say this one will surprise a few …Metres Per Run Difference