NRL (& Origin) Tips – Round 16, 2017

Round 14 was great with each game was more exciting than the last, except for the first one and the last one and there was only four games. Round 15 is ahead with some tricky fixtures: 1st vs 2nd, 3rd vs 5th, 11th vs 12th and the always celebrated 14th vs 16th. There’s also an Origin game where New South Wales are going to try to stitch up their first series in a few years.

Origin

qld-sm Queensland (58-2-49) @ nsw-sm New South Wales (49-2-58)

The core issue the Maroons faced in the last game is that they were roughly as effective as the Belgian border at stopping the Germans, which is the Blues forward pack in this poor choice of an analogy.

The Blues’ forwards were so good that they didn’t even bother selecting Paul Vaughan in what I assume is an example of classic anti-Italian bias in the NSWRL selectors panel (Germans again). Andrew Fifita, meanwhile, continues to weigh a, literally, solid 15kg over any of the Queensland forwards. While the Storm contained him fairly well when they played the Sharks recently, Origin seems to get him pretty fired up and the physics of momentum is his friend.

The Queensland selection changes seemed to be made due to public and media pressure. If you believed Slater was good enough for game 2, why not pick him for game 1? It’s not like Darius Boyd was the weak point in the team. Adding Valentine Holmes, yet another fullback, feels like someone has not analysed the issues correctly in a panic to be seen to be fixing the problem.

While I’m tipping NSW, I do hope that everyone that wrote the Queensland dynasty’s obituary before the second game was stitched up are shown up in a hilariously embarrassing way.

Continue reading “NRL (& Origin) Tips – Round 16, 2017”

Club Report – North Queensland Cowboys

nqc-lgBackground

We tend to think of the North Queensland Cowboys as an indisputable top team but in doing this, we forget just how crap they were when they first started out in 1995. The Cowboys joined the ARL as an expansion team at the same time as the Warriors, South Queensland Crushers and Western Reds. Only two of those teams survive today and it was tricky going as the Cowboys established themselves and searched for acceptance in the early days. Eventually, North Queensland built a following in regional Queensland, particularly around their home in Townsville, and their rivalry with the intrastate Brisbane Broncos is one of the most fiercely contested in the NRL.

Since superstar halfback Johnathan Thurston has came to the helm, the Cowboys have strung together a series of finals appearances as good as any team in the league, featuring every year since 2011. Their zenith was reached in 2015 when North Queensland won their first premiership, twenty years after their founding, beating the Broncos in golden point.

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NRL Projections Update – Round 15, 2017

A surprisingly high quality round of games. I think we all expected the Sharks to monster the Tigers and the Rabbitohs-Titans and the Eels-Dragons games to be yawnfests. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Gold Coast and Wests stormed out to early leads in their respective games. The better team overwhelmed them eventually with the lead gained at 50′ for Souths and, even for the comeback kings leaving it very late, 78′ for Cronulla.

Melbourne and North Queensland fought an excellent battle with a mix of experienced NRL hands and Intrust Super Cup replacement players in a testimony to how good Queensland football can be if we could just shut up about Origin for five bloody minutes. Some future household names will have played in that game.

Parramatta surprised me and a few others by getting an early lead and then never letting St George Illawarra back into the match. They pounced on their opponent’s mistakes like a team playing to the level of Clint Gutherson, which is in stark contrast to their heel-dragging of the last fourteen rounds, making Gutho stand out. I even saw Mitchell Moses make a couple of try line tackles.

Round 15 Results

souths-sm South Sydney 36 (5-9) d gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast 20 (4-10)

melbourne-sm Melbourne 23 (12-2) d north qld-sm North Queensland 22 (8-6)

cronulla-sm Cronulla 24 (10-4) d wests tigers-sm Wests Tigers 22 (3-11)

parramatta-sm Parramatta 24 (8-7) d st george illawarra-sm St George Illawarra 10 (8-6)

Continue reading “NRL Projections Update – Round 15, 2017”

NRL Tips – Round 15, 2017

After an intriguing round 14, we dive into round 15. It’s one of those lovely short rounds that allows me to get on with my life outside of NRL hashtags. I have stuff to do, you know.

Draw

gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast (4-9) @ souths-sm South Sydney (4-9)

The Gold Coast are a chance here. South Sydney have been playing like ANZ has myxomatosis. The Bunnies are yet to win a game at home, which would be unfathomable if we were talking about literally any other franchise. Even Newcastle manages to give the home fans something to cheer about occasionally.

Meanwhile, Jarrod Wallace put in the greatest attempt at the Bart Simpson defence in denying he shoulder charged Blake Ayshford in the game against the Warriors last week. This was the high point of a procedural approach by the Warriors that cooked the Titans in fifty minutes. Hopefully Neil Henry has them doing some cardio this week. The Titans showed a level of fitness I expect from normal people, not professional athletes. So far this year, the Titans are either proof that everyone has a lucky day or two or that the best have off-days but they’ve not exhibited any signs of getting on top of their flaws as a team.

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Analysis – Another bloody mid-season review (Part II)

With the conclusion of round 14, it’s just over half time in the 2017 NRL season. It’s the ideal time to do what everyone else is doing and look back at the season so far. This week we’re looking at the back half of the NRL.

Part I, from Brisbane to Newcastle, was last week.

Benchmarks

A reminder of the benchmarks that define each place on the ladder –

wins positions

And where grand finalists and premiers come from on the ladder –

gf positions

Continue reading “Analysis – Another bloody mid-season review (Part II)”

NRL Projections Update – Round 14, 2017

I don’t know whether you’d agree with this statement: it was a pretty good round. We had close match-ups up and down the ladder with 1st v 2nd, 7th v 8th, 9th v 10th and 11th v 13th yielding some great games. No one saw the Panthers putting two tries past the Raiders in the last couple of minutes to take the win in Bathurst. I’d already written them off, wondering what jokes I could make about their performance. We saw an absorbing battle between the two minor premiership contenders with the final outcome only becoming clear after Kaufusi crossed the line with six to go. Newcastle were robbed of a victory by poor refereeing and I don’t often agree with the #RefsFault crowd. Souths gave the Donkeys a tense run for their money but Brisbane managed to keep them at bay.

Meanwhile, the Titans couldn’t have been further from the team that brought down the Sharks and Storm. At some point, someone will flick the lever into crisis mode, although perhaps its always been there. The “Territory” Eels didn’t seem interested in playing on a hard, crew-cut surface in Darwin, even though it was their home game and it showed in the scoreline against the Cowboys. Speaking of, the Tigers went down very hard in a scrappy game against the Roosters in Campbelltown after showing a lot of promise in the first half. The Dragons surprised everyone by not scoring a single try against a Bulldogs side recovering some dignity after last week’s flogging.

Round 14 Results

melbourne-sm Melbourne 18 (11-2) d cronulla-sm Cronulla 13 (9-4)

manly-sm Manly 18 (8-5) d newcastle-sm Newcastle 14 (2-11)

brisbane-sm Brisbane 24 (9-5) d souths-sm South Sydney 18 (4-9)

warriors-sm New Zealand 34 (6-8) d gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast 12 (4-9)

penrith-sm Penrith 24 (6-7) d canberra-sm Canberra 20 (6-8)

north qld-sm North Queensland 32 (8-5) d parramatta-sm Parramatta 6 (7-7)

sydney city-sm Sydney 40 (10-4) @ wests tigers-sm Wests Tigers 18 (3-10)

st george illawarra-sm St George Illawarra 16 (8-5) @ canterbury-sm Canterbury 2 (6-8)

Continue reading “NRL Projections Update – Round 14, 2017”

Analysis – Another bloody mid-season review (Part I)

With the conclusion of round 13, it’s half time in the 2017 NRL season. It’s the ideal time to do what everyone else is doing and look back at the season so far. This week we’re looking at the first eight clubs that come up in alphabetical order.

Part II to come next week.

Benchmarks

There are some important benchmarks to consider when looking ahead to the end of the season.

Firstly, let’s look at the regular season. I’ve tallied up the average number of wins for each position, the average for-and-against and the number of teams with a negative for-and-against for each spot on the ladder. The dataset covers 1998 to 2016, so there are some inconsistencies from seasons which had twenty or fourteen teams and where points penalties were applied to the 2002 Bulldogs, 2016 Eels and 2010 Storm.

The main takeaways are that twelve wins should get you into the finals and eighteen should get you the minor premiership. Six or seven wins will still only get you the bottom spots on the ladder (unless the 2016 Knights are playing).

Continue reading “Analysis – Another bloody mid-season review (Part I)”