NRL Recap – Round 4, 2018
Funny game, rugby league. It’s a funny, funny game.
I will say that what’s not funny is the Titans beating the Broncos at Suncorp for the first time in eleven years. I mean, it’s probably funny to people who hate Brisbane but to them I say: sitting in the stands, surrounded by kids and being unable to unleash a torrent of swearing is the height of tedium. I did teach a small girl to boo though, so there’s that. At least there was somewhere open to get a beer afterwards this year.
I’m keen to see how long the Warriors and Tigers can keep their streak going. I know the Tigers have lost but going 3-2 (or even 4-1!) after the first five rounds they’ve had is unexpected to say the least. The Dragons look like the real deal this year, mostly because it doesn’t hinge on one half but both Hunt and Widdop tearing the place apart.
The ladder doesn’t tell the whole story. Sometimes, we can see other things – like hope, luck and disappointment – in the statistics. That’s what why we have the Indices.
Don’t get what you’re looking at? See the primer
The Power Index is starting to resemble the ladder a bit now. The top three are the same. You can interpret that as a tick for my rankings or a tick for the ladder or a tick for both. Interesting to see the Storm with a paltry fifteen projected wins, which would be their worst performance since 2015, when they still managed to finish fourth. The Roosters’ and the Sea Eagles’ Pythag is about four to five wins above their Stocky projections. Based on rosters alone, I would expect that Sydney will come up and Manly will go down.
The really interesting one for me is tenth through fifteenth all locked in on nine projected wins. I’m not sure what’s required for that to occur but that makes for an interesting run to the end of the season. The difference between “we finished in tenth and that’s not great but it’s not bad” and “we only just missed the spoon” could be decided on points difference.
Canberra are still way up there for a team with a .000 percentage, reflecting my own irrational belief that eventually they will come good. Please.
The thing about the Hope Index is that it’s really a measure of cruelty. That is, how high can you raise the expectations of your otherwise loyal fanbase and then crush them against the rocks of reality without said the base deserting you? Like an abusive relationship, so are the days of our rugby league lives.
I would posit that is the question before the Warriors, Tigers and Dragons fanbases, who are ranked first, second and fourth on our Hope Index respectively. All three have won four of their last games, some against considerably higher rated opposition. Is it sustainable? Well, we have the Dragons and Warriors as very likely to make the finals (they could go 9-11 from here on out and still make it) and the Tigers as just better than likely. For the fans’ sake, let’s hope their numbers come up.
Melbourne, Sydney, Manly, Cronulla and Penrith are our other potential finalists. Notably absent are the Broncos who have the highest finals strike rate of any AFL or NRL club, but after an insipid 2-2 start are looking to finish around the 10-14 mark. The base still has some hope of improvement but who knows where it will come from.
There is a one in four chance of the wooden spoon coming to Queensland for the first time since the Titans embarrassed the entire state in 2011 by existing. That the Cowboys are considered to be in a worse position than the Titans is really telling statistic about the quality of the North Queenslanders’ start to the season.
Inevitably, the 0-4 Raiders and Eels have risen to the top. The Raiders have at least come close to winning their games, just letting three of them slip in the final minutes. Other than the opening half of the season, the Eels haven’t looked like they wanted to play rugby league and it’s been reflected in their performances and ratings. Parramatta is now 25 points lower than Canberra.
Maybe the Fortune Index is more interesting in the middle of the range, rather than at the extremes. Here we see Penrith and Souths both playing pretty closely to what projections and Pythag say they should be doing. You could probably include the Roosters, Sharks and Bulldogs in that too. In the event that divergence from Pythag is mean reverting (they believe this to be true in baseball), then you’d want to stick close to a zero rating on the Fortune Index, lest the reversion occur at an inconvenient time.
Scary to think that the Knights, Titans and Broncos are out-playing what we expect, considering their respective records. The Gold Coast aren’t impressive but I can’t imagine how much worse Brisbane could get.
The Warriors and the Knights are only five wins away from officially not having disappointing seasons. That is a damn low bar given we have only just finished round four. The Raiders and Eels are burdened by their approximately twelve wins, currently having zero each. The top teams are flailing around a bit, trying to find their footing in a league that is presently upside-down. The teams under the Storm will continue to swap places for another dozen rounds or so unless something disastrous happens.
Intrust Super Cup Results
Burleigh have established themselves as the team to beat and early premiership contenders. The Bears are now the only team with an unbeaten run. There’s a big pack of chasers behind, led by the Pride who I am as surprised as anyone is the top team from the northern end of the state. I fully expect the Dolphins and Tigers to start coming good on a more regular basis. It’s up to Souths, Norths and Wynnum to keep pace. Whether the Hunters have a premiership hangover remains to be seen but they did go one better than they did last year by beating Tweed at home.