NRL Projections Update – Round 20, 2017

The Broncos kicked off round 20 by throttling the Bulldogs. Brisbane were on from the gun and Canterbury were in the contest for the first twenty minutes before conceding late tries before half time. The Broncos returned after the break firing and after securing a series of repeat sets in the third quarter, ran the Bulldogs to exhaustion and piled on the points.

The Knights are almost not worth commenting on anymore. One try came in the thirtieth minute for Newcastle but otherwise it was one-way traffic to Bondi. The Roosters accumulated tries throughout the game to run out comfortable winners. Souths were never in the contest against Cronulla. There was a whiff of upset but the Sharks showed up early, used their league-leading defence to keep the error-riddled Rabbitohs at bay and didn’t leave themselves too much work to do, to the delight of the home crowd.

Saturday saw three wins with each going the way they were expected to but with none decided by more than twelve points. The Titan succumbed to the Panthers at Pepper Stadium. Gold Coast had an early lead and went into half time near even but Penrith took control in the second half and took the win. In Canberra, the Raiders reinforced their reputation for crappy discipline with some big, late hits on Storm players. That didn’t stop Melbourne from outplaying the home team but injury concerns for the Storm now hang over their premiership chances. North Queensland played out a scrappy contest with New Zealand in Townsville. The Cowboys made fewer errors and had just enough attacking panache to outpace the Warriors and carry the two points.

In the Tips post, I suggested that despite the massively lopsided nature of this round, a couple of upsets were still on the cards. The Dragons duly obliged by obliterating the Sea Eagles. Manly were down by thirty at half time and nearly managed to drag themselves back into it before Saints re-accelerated and left them behind. At ANZ, a western Sydney derby played out in front of 30,000 people. They were treated to a close contest, albeit one with a significant number of errors. Parramatta just edged out Wests with a field goal in the final ten minutes. The Tigers were unable to respond and sank.

Round 20 Results

brisbane-sm Brisbane 42 (12-6) d canterbury-sm Canterbury 12 (6-12)

sydney city-sm Sydney City 28 (13-5) d newcastle-sm Newcastle 4 (2-16)

cronulla-sm Cronulla 26 (12-6) d souths-sm South Sydney 12 (6-12)

penrith-sm Penrith 24 (9-9) d gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast 16 (7-11)

melbourne-sm Melbourne 20 (14-4) d canberra-sm Canberra 14 (7-11)

north qld-sm North Queensland 24 (12-6) d warriors-sm New Zealand 12 (7-11)

st george illawarra-sm St George Illawarra 52 (10-8) d manly-sm Manly 22 (11-7)

parramatta-sm Parramatta 17 (11-7) d wests tigers-sm Wests Tigers 16 (4-14)

Collated Ladder

Now to look ahead to see what the Collated Ladder has predicted for the final standings of the season.

Manly copped an absolute beating and it will show up in every aspect of this post. They’ve dropped from top four contender to eighth on the Collated Ladder. The Sea Eagles’ free fall has let the Cowboys and Broncos move into the top four after solid wins. The Sydney teams – Cronulla, Penrith, St George Illawarra and Manly – make up the remainder of the finals positions. The Dragons and Sharks, form aside, have won enough games to get them through.

Penrith are probably showing more promise than Parramatta and that’s reflected in the Collated Ladder standings with the Ladder preferring the Panthers to take the last remaining finals spot. Whether Penrith make it up to sixth is another matter.

rd20-2017-collated ladder

Probabilities Matrix

The Stocky can give us the probability of specific season outcomes so you can see how your team is tracking to win the minor premiership, make the finals or avoid the wooden spoon.

As promised, the Cowboys have maintained their significant minor premiership chances and so have been added to the relevant graph, although they will probably be removed after their next loss. Between the Storm, Cowboys and Roosters, they have 95% of scenarios locked up. Everyone else is too far back and/or not in good enough form. The Cows and Chooks only come into contention in the unlikely situation that the Storm start dropping games. With Smith and Slater looking a bit dodgy at the moment, maybe that will come to pass.

There’s now a four point gap on the ladder between ninth and tenth places, meaning that there’s really only nine teams in finals contention with five games to run. This puts us in the slightly awkward situation where the least likely of those nine – St George Illawarra – are better than a 50% chance (70% in fact) of making the finals but marked in red because we already have eight finalists. It’s at this point that the Stocky is basically just a big shrug and you’ll need to make your own call.

rd20-2017-probabilities matrix

rd20-2017-minor premiers

rd20-2017-finalists

rd20-2017-wooden spoon

Finals Matrix

We’re getting closer to the end of the season and the clubs are shaping into two camps of who will and who will not be there in September. The Stocky has been modified to run it’s magic on the finals series for two scenarios:

  1. Inputs based on today’s ratings for the top eight based on today’s ladder positions
  2. Inputs based on the Stocky’s projected end of season rating and the Collated Ladder’s top eight

The below table shows the likelihood of each team reaching a given round of the finals based on these scenarios. Teams with a line through them have a slim-to-no chance in either scenario of finishing in the top eight, let alone featuring as more than elimination final speedbumps.

rd20-2017-finals stocky

The most likely scenario for each team, although not the most likely outcome of each game, is highlighted in green and the premiership favourites are highlighted in yellow. Melbourne, Brisbane and North Queensland are common premiership favourites for both scenarios.

The Cowboys are still over-rated by the various input systems. We’re all waiting for them to lose (see The Obstruction Rule’s frustration that they refuse to revert to mean). Until then, the numbers are the numbers. I do think Brisbane are a realistic chance, should Melbourne slip up, of taking a top four finish, beating the Roosters in the Qualifying Final, eliminating the Cowboys in the Preliminary and having a 50-50 shot at the Storm in the Grand. The more likely scenario is that the Storm will steamroll everyone and that’ll be it for 2017.

Projected Wins

This table and graph shows the number of predicted wins this season for each club using the Stocky and Pythagorean expectation. The numbers should align to an extent but a significant mismatch can indicate a possible imminent change in performance.

The immediate outlook compares the projected wins from the Stocky and Pythag to approximately assess how each team might go in the foreseeable future. It assumes that the Stocky is more accurate than Pythagoras. If Stocky is higher than Pythag, more wins by bigger margins are in the offing. If the Pythag is higher, then more losses or narrow wins might be ahead. To be clear, this is very approximate and has not been tested.

rd20-2017-wins table

rd20-2017-wins graph

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