NRL Recap – Round 3, 2018
Two fairy tales ended over the weekend. The Tigers’ fell away in fairly controversial circumstances with a golden point penalty awarded against them, ending their chances of going 3-0 in an extremely tough start to the season. The Knights were more cleanly dispatched by the Roosters. The latter are now a worry with their big dollar acquisitions appearing to have gelled. The Storm’s, Roosters’ and Broncos’ seasons appear to be underway. We’re still waiting on the Cowboys to get going and then it will be on to see who can chase down the Dragons.
The ladder doesn’t tell the whole story. Sometimes, we can see other things – like hope, luck and disappointment – in the league. That’s what why we have the Indices.
Don’t get what you’re looking at? See the primer
This is starting to feel a lot like 2017, except that the Knights and Tigers are both in the top eight on the ladder. Now, like then, the Dragons are off and racing. Unlike last year, if Gareth Widdop gets injured, then Ben Hunt can still run the team and vice versa. There aren’t too many organisations with that level of competency in the halves and I think it will make all the difference for SGI moving forward.
It is shaping up as another year where thirteen wins will be required to guarantee a place in the finals. Twelve wins plus a good points difference may be enough to sneak into eighth. Currently that place is occupied by Souths but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them fall away as the likes of Brisbane and North Queensland get their seasons going and start winning games by big margins.
Finally, I just want to point out that Parramatta have a Pythag of just one single, lonely ass win. Even the Titans managed 4.3.
I just realised that I’ve been calculating the finals percentages wrong the last two weeks and have fixed it. If you think that’s pretty crappy work, then I say you get what you pay for. Case in point: there are nine teams with better than even chance of making the finals this week. That’s because the Stocky doesn’t distinguish between teams that finish with the eighth highest number of wins in a given simulation. It means a few projections are out by one or two percentage points but if that shatters your impression of how accurate this is, then I refer you to my previous statement.
This week we see the Dragons sit astride the Hope Index, having won four of five games now – some by big margins – and looking pretty cocky. I think that’s the hype train I hear leaving the station. Of course, of those last five games, the Dragons lost one. Some would say it was the most important match that they played in 2017, which was their round 26 fixture against the Bulldogs. A win was required to play finals footy. They sucked, they lost and Dragons fans know the bitter taste of having their hopes dashed.
I’m sure it’ll be different this year though.
How bad are your prospects when, despite winning a game more than two other teams, you’re still more likely to finish with the wooden spoon? That’s the dilemma that the Titans face, somehow the worst of the current bottom four teams. The quartet are edging closer to a positive panic rating, which will indicate that the season is going down faster than the Titanic in a sea of icebergs.
Of the two 0-3 teams, the Eels have at least copped some hammerings. The Raiders have lost three games by a total of five points. I’m not sure which would be worse. Canberra, by virtue of their close losses, has at least maintained a good form rating, meaning we can expect some wins at some point. It remains to be seen if the others can dig themselves out of this hole.
I think calling the Warriors lucky does a bit of disservice to their performance but you’d have to be lucky to be down by a point in the closing minutes of a game against the Raiders and then be allowed to march up the field, almost unimpeded, to slot two field goals for the win. I mean, what other explanation is there? That the Raiders suck, especially defending the closing stages of close contests?
It’s a bit surprising to see the Broncos near the top of the list but, realistically, they still have a negative for-and-against but a winning record. One or the other will right itself before too long.
Storm still have a mountain of work to do if this season is not to be a disappointment, needing another fifteen or sixteen wins. The Sharks or Cowboys could take over if the Storm go 4-1 and they manage 1-4. The Disappointment Index is still a few rounds away from getting interesting.
Intrust Super Cup Results
Norths edged Souths to continue their unbeaten run and Mackay got over Central Queensland in close games. Redcliffe overhauled bayside rivals Wynnum-Manly to take their first win of the year. The Dolphins are now our top rated team. The Hunters continue to struggle, out-classed by the Falcons on the Sunshine Coast. Burleigh staked a claim for early contention in the premiership, belting the Tweed Gulls. Ipswich took care of Easts, who seem to be struggling without Brodie Croft (now playing for the Storm), with only a win over the Capras last week. The Blackhawks went down to surprise packets of the early season, the Northern Pride.