Club Report – Newcastle Knights


Feared in the 2000s and now at the league’s nadir in the 2010s, the Newcastle story is definitely one of ups and downs. Founded in 1987 as an expansion to the NSWRL, Newcastle were early successes, taking their first premiership in 1997 during the ARL/Super League split. Andrew Johns led the team to a second premiership in the united competition in 2001.

The wheels of the club came off not long after his retirement. A string of scandals followed. In 2011, the Knights were bought by Nathan Tinkler whose subsequent bankruptcy pushed the team into NRL ownership. Since then, the team has consistently underperformed. Their 2016 season, where Newcastle finished with just one win, one draw and the wooden spoon, was the only time in the NRL’s history that a team has finished with fewer than three wins. This season is not going much better for them. While I don’t claim to be a Knights fan, it is difficult not to feel for the loyal fans who haven’t got much to look forward to.

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NRL Projections Update – Round 9, 2017

As I suggested in the Tips post, there were a few upsets this round but they weren’t the ones I was expecting. I said it was “hard to imagine” the Eels and Warriors getting up but they did, even if the Warriors were pretty lucky to get a last minute, and winning, penalty at the time and place they did. The Cowboys didn’t really look like they were in the same contest as the Eels, although I think any praise for Parramatta above “competent” was excessive (words like “clinical” and “on fire” against a team that is barely holding it together suggests a lack of perspective).

I did say I was nervous about the Bulldogs-Raiders game and I was right to be wary but the Sea Eagles had the biggest win in the second highest scoring round of the year (329 points, after 390 scored in round 2). It looked like going the same way at WIN Stadium on Sunday and at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday but the underdogs managed to claw back some respect on both occassions as the Storm and Broncos got out to big, early leads.

Round 9 Results

brisbane-sm Brisbane 32 (6-3) d penrith-sm Penrith 18 (2-7)

manly-sm Manly 46 (5-4) d souths-sm South Sydney 8 (3-6)

parramatta-sm Parramatta 26 (5-4) d north qld-sm North Queensland 6 (5-4)

gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast 38 (3-6) d newcastle-sm Newcastle 8 (1-8)

canterbury-sm Canterbury 16 (5-4) d canberra-sm Canberra 10 (4-5)

cronulla-sm Cronulla 22 (6-3) d wests tigers-sm Wests Tigers 16 (3-6)

warriors-sm New Zealand 14 (4-5) d sydney city-sm Sydney 13 (6-3)

melbourne-sm Melbourne 34 (8-1) d st george illawarra-sm St George Illawarra 22 (6-3)

[Home team in italics]

Collated Ladder

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NRL Tips – Round 9, 2017

Round 8 seemed to be a return to normal with a few upsets bringing us back to earth after a very successful Round 7. Round 9 will be more of the same with some even match-ups, including a top of the table clash between the Dragons and Storm on Sunday arvo and a questionable game as to whether Manly will turn it on or off against Souths.


The Greeks and I all hit about 50% last round, although Eratosthenes was the only one to correctly call the Roosters-Dragons game…just. I’ve made a few tweaks to the table this week to include a record of the consensus pick of each game which comes from which way our jury of four – Eratosthenes, Euclid, Archimedes and myself – vote.

The jury consensus is only measured for games where there was no “split” in voting. That’s happened nine times so far this season, so those results are not counted. I’m planning on having five jurors next season, so this shouldn’t be a problem in 2018.

After round 8:

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Analysis – The pissing contest that is comparing average attendances

The start of the AFL season ushered in a series of gushing articles about how wonderful the nearly 45,000 average attendance for the first round was and how the NRL’s struggle to get even 15,000 to their games was an indictment on the code and a sign that its demise was imminent. This is the perfect example.

It’s a giant pissing contest between the codes that makes for clickbaity but uninteresting and uninformative copy for the producers of sports content. These stories don’t tell you anything because there’s no analysis, just regurgitation. I think a closer look will yield something more interesting.

Using attendance as a proxy for popularity or financial stability is a bit problematic. In theory, a team that gets bums on seats is a team that will get eyeballs on TVs and put dollars in the bank.

This idea glosses well over a number of things that can affect attendance: weather, star power of individual players, on-field success of the home team, marketing, off-field mismanagement, stadium quality, access to the game, time of the game, proximity of the teams, rivalries and the alignment of the planets.

At a far enough distance, a lot of these variables will cancel themselves out. I’m looking for underlying patterns.

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NRL Projections Update – Round 8, 2017

The thing about probabilities is that people don’t deal with them intuitively very well. This very site rated the Sharks at a 79% chance of winning over the Titans. Sure enough, the Titans came up with the goods in well fought game over the reining premiers. While 79% made Cronulla heavy favourites, that means that we expected the Gold Coast to win once in every five times the game is played. Of course, we only play the game once so we can never tell how accurate this was but it’s still a lot more likely than you would naturally expect such a heavy favourite.

Over the last ten years, Euclid has predicted the outcome of the game correctly 61.5% of the time and the system has given the favourite an average chance of 61.0%, which I think means we have the probabilities dialled in pretty well – we rate an average favourite a 61% chance of the win and our favourites win 61% of the time.

So after a round with more than a few upsets, Melbourne move clear to the top of the ladder with somewhat close call over the Warriors. There’s a lot of congestion with a number of teams shuffling around with 5-3 and 4-4 records, which covers everyone from fourth to tenth. At the bottom of the ladder, the Gold Coast and Wests stepped up a gear to move clear of Newcastle but Penrith seem to be completely lost.

Round 8 Results

manly-sm Manly 20 (4-4) d canberra-sm Canberra 18 (4-4)

brisbane-sm Brisbane 25 (5-3) d souths-sm South Sydney 24 (3-5)

parramatta-sm Parramatta 18 (4-4) d penrith-sm Penrith 12 (2-6)

north qld-sm North Queensland 24 (5-3) d newcastle-sm Newcastle 12 (1-7)

gold coast titans-sm Gold Coast 16 (2-6) d cronulla-sm Cronulla 12 (5-3)

wests tigers-sm Wests Tigers 18 (3-5) d canterbury-sm Canterbury 12 (4-4)

sydney city-sm Sydney 13 (6-2) d st george illawarra-sm St George Illawarra 12 (6-2)

melbourne-sm Melbourne 20 (7-1) d warriors-sm New Zealand 14 (3-5)

[Home team in italics]

Projected Wins

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NRL Tips – Round 8, 2017

Round 8 does not offer too many difficult to judge matchups. For example, the two bottom teams are facing off against two in the top eight. Probably the most interesting game features the current ladder leaders, St George Illawarra, facing off against fourth placed Sydney City – their first real test of the season. Penrith might be able to stitch together some pride if they can topple Parramatta.


Everyone, Greeks and me, had a pretty solid round for a change. Archimedes and Euclid actually had clean sweeps! Eratosthenes lost out by tipping the Cowboys over the Dragons, although they were nearly proven right. As was I had the Tigers been able to hold out the Eels.

After round 7:

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Primer – How does the Collated Ladder work?

The Collated Ladder takes in two inputs:

  • The projected number of wins for each club from the Stocky (MAMP if early on)

Put simply, the Collated Ladder is an average of these two numbers, with a 2:1 weighting towards the output of the Stocky, rounded to the nearest whole number.

The Ladder is then based on sorting each team by its Collated number of wins, then by its Pythagoras projection, which is a loose analogue for for-and-against (the greater the number of wins projected, the better the team’s for-and-against will be).

Why bother with this if both systems have limitations and inaccuracies? Aren’t we just compounding that?

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