The Stocky is the main forecasting tool driving the analysis on this site. It’s a simulator of the season ahead, using the Monte Carlo method and based on Elo ratings, that gives insight into the future performance of each club. My main interest has been the number of wins, as it determines ladder positions which in turn have a big impact on the finals. The Stocky might not be able to tell you which games a team will win, but it is good at telling you how many wins are ahead.
But how does a computer simulation (in reality, a very large spreadsheet) compare to reality? To test it, I’ve put together a graph of each team’s performance against what the Stocky projected for them. Each graph shows:
- The Stocky’s projection for total wins (blue)
- Converting that projection to a “pace” for that point in the season (red)
- Comparing that to the actual number of wins (yellow)
It will never be exactly right, particularly as you can only ever win whole numbers of games and the Stocky loves a decimal point, but as we’ll see, the Stocky is not too bad at tracking form and projecting that forward.
North Queensland Cowboys
Record: 12-10 | Position: 7th
The Cowboys looked the goods even without Johnathon Thurston through the midseason. North Queensland initially outpaced the Stocky up to round 10, then slowed down but kept rising to round 20 and since then, it’s been a plateau. Or a wall, depending on your preferred metaphor. The Obstruction Rule thought it was a fluke due to excess possession against bad sides and given the way the Cows have played lately, I’m inclined to agree. The Stocky has them done winning games and it remains to be seen whether 28 points is enough for them to continue past round 26.
Record: 14-8 | Position: 5th
Parramatta had a very slow start to the season but by about round 11 had found a gear that saw them start moving uphill. The Eels have managed to outpace the Stocky more or less since then. They’ve locked in a finals berth but there are a couple of question marks over their recent performances, with a narrow win over the Tigers and a loss to the Knights to account for. Then again, they’re only one of two teams – the other being the Roosters – to have beaten both the Storm and Broncos this year. The Eels are definitely good for another win this season.
Record: 13-9 | Position: 6th
I had to recheck this graph because it didn’t seem right. The Panthers have under-performed the Stocky all season. Typically, this is the domain of bottom four teams and yet the Panthers sit in sixth place. Earlier in the season, it looked like Penrith might finish in the cellars but they hit their stride during Origin and have gone a streak of victories post-Origin. I personally think they’re possibly even good for a top four finish and a very outside look in to the premiership. You have to balance that optimism against their opposition. Somehow Penrith have managed to avoid all of the other top six teams since round 9, so it’s very possible that they are paper panthers and will crumple come September.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Record: 9-13 | Position: 11th
I played around with these graphs a few weeks ago. At the time, the Bunnies had just gone through their bottoming out in round 14 and looked poised for a charge to the finals. It turned out to be a dead cat bounce (joke credit). The Rabbitohs didn’t improve much from there, at least not right away. The last few rounds have shown Souths fans what might have been, winning three on the trot. The Stocky has had Souths’ number all season (deceased feline rebounds aside) and is anticipating another win to salvage the Rabbitohs’ season.
St George Illawarra Dragons
Record: 11-11 | Position: 9th
Being from Brisbane, it’s hard to know what it would be like to be a fan of Sydney team. The Broncos making the finals is considered the minimum level of performance (if not guaranteed) expected by the good burghers of Brisvegas. It’s really a question of how far we go in September. On the other hand, being a Dragons fan for the first six weeks of this year would’ve been sublime (18 projected wins at round 6!). What a welcome surprise that level of performance would have been. The subsequent disappointment would have been devastating. Still, the Dragons have managed to outpace the Stocky for most of the year and they are on track for 28 points. Despite their early success, it might not be enough for them to make the top eight.
Sydney City Roosters
Record: 15-7 | Position: 3rd
The recent swapping of red and yellow on this graph should be of concern for fans. The Roosters’ form has hit a brick wall. Under normal circumstances, losing two or three games in a row once a season wouldn’t be the end of the world but if you compare this to Melbourne’s graph last week, the Storm didn’t slip up and certainly haven’t as we grind closer to finals. Still, the Stocky is expecting at least one, if not two, more wins for City, and the Roosters have done well to outperform all season long. Even a post-Origin slump didn’t slow them down.
New Zealand Warriors
Record: 7-15 | Position: 13th
There’s a debate on social media as to whether the Raiders or the Warriors are the biggest disappointment this season. Consensus seems to be Canberra first, NZ second. Things were looking OK for the Warriors through the Origin period but they and their prospects have flatlined since. The Stocky figured the Warriors would break this funk at some point but they haven’t, so a re-rating has been required and now we’re not expecting them to pick up any more wins this year. That dropping off the cliff you can see in blue is the expectations of everyone in New Zealand being dashed against the rocks.
Record: 6-16 | Position: 15th
I can’t decide if the Tigers have been really unlucky this year or if they are fundamentally a bad side. It’s probably a mix of both. Most of their recent performances have been good, even if they haven’t come away with two points. This is reflected in the Stocky’s anticipating that the Tigers might start winning more games than they have, with the red exceeding the yellow, but it hasn’t come to pass. The Stocky has had six to eight wins in mind for Wests this year and they could still finish anywhere in that range.