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.
Continue reading “Club Report – North Queensland Cowboys”
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
South Sydney 36 (5-9) d Gold Coast 20 (4-10)
Melbourne 23 (12-2) d North Queensland 22 (8-6)
Cronulla 24 (10-4) d Wests Tigers 22 (3-11)
Parramatta 24 (8-7) d St George Illawarra 10 (8-6)
Continue reading “NRL Projections Update – 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.
Gold Coast (4-9) @ 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.
Continue reading “NRL Tips – Round 15, 2017”
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.
A reminder of the benchmarks that define each place on the ladder –
And where grand finalists and premiers come from on the ladder –
Continue reading “Analysis – Another bloody mid-season review (Part II)”
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 18 (11-2) d Cronulla 13 (9-4)
Manly 18 (8-5) d Newcastle 14 (2-11)
Brisbane 24 (9-5) d South Sydney 18 (4-9)
New Zealand 34 (6-8) d Gold Coast 12 (4-9)
Penrith 24 (6-7) d Canberra 20 (6-8)
North Queensland 32 (8-5) d Parramatta 6 (7-7)
Sydney 40 (10-4) @ Wests Tigers 18 (3-10)
St George Illawarra 16 (8-5) @ Canterbury 2 (6-8)
Continue reading “NRL Projections Update – Round 14, 2017”
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.
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)”
I think if the NRL could arrange for most rounds to play out per the form guide as round 13 did, then my experimentation with Elo models and rugby league would be far less embarrassing. It’s less Nostradamus and more John Edwards. Yes, I’m a greasy, shifty fraud who bilks people out of their money despite the fact that you get to read this for free because you Googled the right words and flicked through enough results to land on this smart sounding site. Psychic right?
I was hoping a 5 from 7 level of success would be typical this year but it hasn’t been. In fact, this was a rather good round for all concerned. The jury has managed to eclipse the 60% margin I thought we would all be past by now but Euclid is still struggling to break even.
After round 13:
We’re on for our first full round since all of three weeks ago. There’s something for everyone, not least because all the teams have decided to earn their paychecks by playing. Even for the neutrals – assuming they exist in this sport, in which case they should just pick a team and get on with it – there’s plenty of even match-ups anticipated. That makes it incredibly difficult to tip but being incredibly wrong before hasn’t stopped me.
Continue reading “NRL Tips – Round 14, 2017”