Discussing danger periods for Grand Finals is almost a fool’s errand.
It’s the final game of the season for goodness’ sake! And, since 1954, the most important by far.
So, clearly, every moment, particularly in an uncommonly well-matched contest, is a bona fide danger period! Anything can happen in a rugby league Grand Final, whether it’s a bounce of the ball, a seed of doubt, a poor decision or mistake, or mastering patience vs panic in the ultimate of stressful environments. It could even be an inadequate preparation that affects game day effectiveness.
So stats aren’t the ‘be all and end all’. Having said that, let’s rush in where angels fear to tread (without even mentioning a single players’ name) …
The last post tipped the Dr’s hand, predicting the Roosters to prevail after years of bridesmaid finishes. And the difference of four points between the two teams in Week 1 of the Semi Finals is, coincidentally, the margin the entire season of For & Against points suggests will be the margin this Sunday.
But at exactly what point in the game does each team’s 2013 performances suggest this margin will be established?
Let’s look how each team has accumulated and conceded points over the home & away season to start off:
The Roosters score regularly through the first 50 minutes with no really noticeable peaks or troughs, and score a little faster again in the second half.
Pitting the two teams’ For & Against performance on the same chart, we can clearly see that Manly’s danger period is indeed in this segment of the game, while the Roosters take a good 20 minutes to get into the game (usually).
The highlighted box is where I see the winning margin most likely being established. Here’s how it looks up closer in order to emphasise the point:
Whether it can hold or not is another matter in a one-off contest, but 2013 has shown the Roosters doing quite well from the 25th minute through to the 65th minute.
Manly’s effectiveness in this period is relatively poor.
The Roosters need to own this period (as usual), while Manly need to improve markedly if they are to win.
If old habits die hard, then the signs are good for the Roosters to halt a truly abysmal run of Grand Final results.