Parramatta and Canterbury kicked off round 16 on Thursday night at ANZ. The Eels opened with a solid first half and collapsed into a terrible second half, letting the Bulldogs back in to a game they should have stitched up with twenty to go. The right team got up in the end on golden point but the Eels made it much harder on themselves than necessary.
The Titans and Dragons went head-to-head down the Coast, resulting in a semi-surprising win for the home team. St George looked like they’d forgotten how to play and the Gold Coast played their usual unvarnished but somewhat effective brand of football to bring it home. Meanwhile, I watched the Broncos get absolutely demolished by the Storm. They were never in the game and were shown up by the best in the business. The win moves Melbourne four points clear of the chasers on the ladder.
I thought that would be the biggest win of the round but then the Roosters were destroyed by the Sharks at Gosford, going down by thirty-two points. It reinforces my view that the Roosters are not consistent against top teams and the Sharks tend to thrive on a strange combination of adversity and weakness. The Warriors nearly snuck one past the Sea Eagles, racing off to an early 14-0 lead before being pegged back by half time and then overhauled in the second half. It was close but Manly seemed in control, taking the win on a wet Perth evening. As I expected, the Cowboys got the better of the Raiders in freezing conditions – as mentioned unnecessarily often on the broadcast and social media – at GIO Stadium. Canberra only looked to be in the game for the first quarter against North Queensland before being worn down to a childish, punchy tantrum of a side that may as well write 2017 off.
Just as my tips were getting good, Newcastle lost the Spoonbowl, and now they will very likely “win” the Wooden Spoon. The Tigers ran riot against a below average Knights outfit, who resume last place on the ladder with Tigers still having a bye in hand. Penrith took an early lead against Souths and looked to be in control until Sam Burgess got sent off for fighting, firing up the Rabbitohs leading them to pile on forty-plus points. The win puts the Rabbitohs back into this season’s calculations, albeit at a significant disadvantage, and returns a question mark over the Panthers.
Round 17 Results
Parramatta 13 (9-7) d Canterbury 12 (6-10)
Gold Coast 20 (6-10) d St George Illawarra 10 (9-7)
Melbourne 42 (13-3) d Brisbane 12 (10-6)
Cronulla 44 (11-5) d Sydney City 12 (11-5)
Manly 26 (10-5) d New Zealand 22 (7-9)
North Queensland 31 (10-6) d Canberra 18 (6-10)
Wests Tigers 33 (4-12) d Newcastle 12 (2-13)
South Sydney 42 (6-9) d Penrith 14 (6-9)
Now to look ahead to see what the Collated Ladder has predicted for the final standings of the season.
A big win for Melbourne over Brisbane restores their Stocky projected wins and pushes them three wins clear of the pack on the Collated Ladder. Cronulla (up 3 spots on last week), Manly (up 1) and Sydney (down 2) make up the remainder of the top four, equal on wins and only separated by Pythag, an approximation of points difference. The Broncos and Cowboys follow one win behind.
The Stocky on it’s own would have Melbourne, Manly, Sydney, Cronulla, North Queensland, Brisbane, New Zealand and Parramatta in the top eight but the Collated Ladder has given seventh and eighth to St George and Penrith respectively. Even with a four point gap currently separating eighth and ninth on the actual ladder, there’s still a close run to secure those last finals spots.
Wests and Newcastle have been swirling around the same number of wins for a while but now they are clearly separated. Still difficult to see how Newcastle will get from two wins to five but they’re facing Brisbane post-Origin and that’s exactly the kind of game the Donkeys give up. Stocky has them down at 4.2 wins.
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.
At the time of writing, Sportsbet was offering $11 (9%) for Manly to win the regular season outright but I’ve had them at $6.60 (15%) two weeks running now. That’s not an endorsement of good value and that you should wager your house – the Storm are still overwhelming favourites – but the Sea Eagles are firing on all cylinders at the moment and have a cruisy run to the finish but still need the Storm to collapse for it to happen. The Roosters took a battering in their minor premiership chances and the Sharks are just hanging in there, up on last week but still only 3%.
Brisbane and North Queensland are looking at solid, if not guaranteed, finals spots. After these six, the final two spots are closely contested between a declining Dragons, a protean Panthers, an erratic Eels and worrisome Warriors. I’d like to see NZ get in there, and apparently they are the best chance, but St George Illawarra and Parramatta are in the boxseats on the Collated Ladder.
The not-doing-much-this-season club has a new member. Souths join Canberra, Canterbury and the Gold Coast in not featuring in any of the three charts. Their respective odds of both missing the finals and missing the wooden spoon range from 65% to 80%. The Rabbitohs’ flogging of the Panthers is not enough convince either the Stocky or I that they will be playing in September but it has moved them clear of the wooden spoon region.
Speaking of, the “Battle of the Spoon” was more or less decided with the Knights “winning” over the Tigers. Their chances are as high as any point this season at 81%. They looked to be getting back into form but barring a miracle, Newcastle will take a third spoon running after going down to Wests on Sunday.
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.