Round 18 was a round of 3.5 upsets. It opened in Sydney with the “fiercest” local derby rugby league has to offer. Souths reverted to their mean performance of the year and Easts, minus a few Origin stars, managed to keep a lid on their opponent’s dysfunctional attack. I think under normal circumstances, the Roosters would have brought it home more comfortably but the Bunnies were odds-on favourites after last week’s thrashing.
As of the time of writing, people were still complaining about the lopsided penalty count in favour of the Panthers, who hosted the Sea Eagles on Saturday. Ignoring the ‘it’s just raising revenue’-style of argument, Manly also committed more errors and missed two conversions. Ill-discipline is one thing but losing to Penrith and ending the excellent run was an unpleasant surprise, especially with His Saltiness playing. Down in Melbourne, the Eels sprinted out to an early lead over the Storm and never looked back. By halftime, they were up three tries to one. Without their stars, Melbourne were unable to get back in the contest, going down to Parramatta.
Sunday brought the most exciting game, which is surprising considering it involved the 14th placed Bulldogs against the last placed Knights. Newcastle edged out to an almost unassailable lead at Belmore with ten minutes to go but due to a mix of poor play and bad luck that is unique to the Knights, managed to fall behind with fifteen seconds remaining. A short kick-off and a wayward attempt at penalty goal sealed the defeat for Newcastle. Canterbury celebrated like they’d done something significant but really they should have won the game by half time and never lost the lead.
Round 18 Results
Sydney City 14 (12-5) d South Sydney 12 (6-10)
Penrith 16 (7-9) d Manly 8 (10-6)
Parramatta 22 (10-7) d Melbourne 6 (13-4)
Canterbury 20 (7-10) d Newcastle 18 (2-14)
Now to look ahead to see what the Collated Ladder has predicted for the final standings of the season.
If the Collated Ladder hasn’t nailed the end of season standings with each team’s wins, it is certainly going to be very close. In terms of remaining games, this is how the Collated Ladder sees it playing out for the top six:
- Storm: 4-3
- Sharks: 4-4
- Sea Eagles: 5-3
- Cowboys: 5-3
- Broncos: 4-4
- Roosters: 2-5
I’ll admit that the Ladder might be a bit pessimistic on the Storm and Sharks and downright insulting for the Roosters but it still feels more realistic than Brisbane finishing “3nd”. For and against is definitely going to come into play to decide the eighth spot.
It’s worth noting that this is around the point in the season that Pythag stops offering insight and its mean absolute error plateaus at around 5%. The Stocky keeps getting more accurate and it has Cronulla, Manly and North Queensland all on 15.0 wins. Donkeys might be lucky to get their 13.6 rounded up to 14 with the Roosters rounded down.
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.
Sportsbet has blown Manly out to $17 (6%) after their loss to Penrith but they’re still at $7.15 (14%) according to the Stocky. Again, don’t bet your house but the Sea Eagles don’t have the worst run to the finish ahead of them. The real question is whether their run of form has come to an end or whether the game against the Panthers was an aberration. Melbourne, despite a loss while depleted to Parramatta, are still more likely than not to finish top of the ladder come the end of round 26.
In my opinion, the finals race has narrowed to ten teams chasing eight spots. The top six – Melbourne, Sydney, Cronulla, Manly, Brisbane and North Queensland – are almost guaranteed berths. The remaining two spots are open to Parramatta, Penrith, New Zealand and St George Illawarra.
The Dragons are riding their earlier wins in the year. The Eels seem to be coming on form. The Warriors have a good team on paper. The Panthers are still capable of throwing up surprisies. This week the Stocky favours Parra (rated almost as likely as Brisbane) and Penrith. Next week, the Warriors and Panthers face off which should go some way to sorting out the final two places. The Eels have a bye and the Dragons will be challenged by the Raiders.
The Wooden Spoon race remains over with Newcastle at 84% chance of taking that out. It might’ve been different had they not conceded ten points in ten minutes 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.