NRL Recap – Round 5, 2018

The Commonwealth Games has thankfully directed a lot of local attention away just from how woefully Queensland’s two main teams are travelling right now. The Gold Coast Titans, otherwise known as the Milhouse of Queensland NRL clubs, has stepped through the gap and is winding up to take a very long sprint to finish as the top team in the state for the first time since 2010. The Raiders finally registered a win, as we knew they would eventually, leaving the Eels languishing in last on 0-5. Wests toppled Melbourne with a Benji field goal, Sydney crushed Cronulla and it was a little surprising to see how hard St George Illawarra had to work to put away Souths.

For your info, I’ve started including the jury’s percentage from the round tips against each winner, just to give a bit of feel for how we saw the likelihood of that event coming to pass.

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Results

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Indices

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.

Power

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This is the first week that I think the Indices properly represent what’s going on this season. Ironically, we have the same leaders on all indices as last week. Actually, the Dragons, Warriors and Panthers retain the top three places on the Power Index. Based on what we’ve seen so far this season, that top six is looking about right. The Tigers have a better shot at the minor premiership right now than either the Roosters or the Storm. Who saw that coming?

From Manly down to North Queensland is more of a crapshoot. I would envisage a lot of reshuffling over the next weeks as, for example, the Cowboys’ awful start to the season is rectified or, for another example, we get to understand just how bad the Broncos are going to be this year. I was going to suggest that the Sharks would work their way higher but that would mean outperforming the 9-10 we have in store for them over the remainder of the season and I think there’s a good chance that could be right.

The Bulldogs and the Eels are clearly the worst teams so far this year. Parra are projected for six wins because their Pythag is still so bad. With no wins on the board, there hasn’t been a chance to really rectify the 54-0 hammering they were dealt in round two and present something more realistic.

Interesting tidbit: we’re forecasting that twelve wins will be enough to guarantee an appearance in September.

Hope

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The Hope Index is now just results achieved this season and has no hangovers from last year. The Dragons are now the top rated team on form (Archimedes) so their degree of difficulty is now low, along with the Storm’s. Crazy to think where they were last year, both circa round 7 and at the end of the year, compared to now. As others have pointed out, the acquisition of Ben Hunt means this is not like last year and St George Illawarra appear to be genuine premiership contenders.

This year’s projected top 8 is largely the same as last week: Warriors, Tigers, Dragons, Panthers, Roosters, Sharks, Storm and the replacement of the Sea Eagles with the Rabbitohs. The projection suggests that the finals series will be free of Queensland teams, which would be a first in the NRL era.

The Raiders have gone from a hope rating of just 6 to improve to 51 this week. Amazing what a difference a win makes. Meanwhile, Parra have fallen to 2 and I’m not sure it’s actually possible to go below zero but that’s what we have the Panic Index for.

Panic

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Christ, if the Eels get much worse then we’re going to have fewer than seven expected wins ahead of them. The Parramatta panic rating could go positive as soon as next week. We currently have them pencilled at a one in four shot of the wooden spoon. The Knights didn’t come back from that last season and while there’s an argument that it’s still early in 2018, when does it stop being early in 2018 and time to seriously consider drastic changes?

Brisbane put on three percent to their wooden spoon chances from last week while Newcastle’s dropped by almost as much.

Fortune

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The Eels, Storm and Raiders have drifted the farthest below our projections while the Warriors, Knights and Dragons continue to smash it. As the ratings update to more truly reflect the team’s form, the Stocky projected win percentage will pull in closer to the teams’ on-field records and the index will be dominanted by team’s under/over performing their Pythag.

On the other hand, the Broncos, Roosters and Sharks are performing at expectation.

Disappointment

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I think we can actually conclude that the Storm’s performance so far is, in fact, disappointing. They started atop the Disappointment Index by virtue of being the best rated team, and therefore the one for which we had the highest expectations, but they’re not doing a lot at the moment to close down that capability gap. Realistically, we expected them to have two easy wins over the Tigers in the first five rounds and they copped the opposite.

Meanwhile, of last year’s top eight, six are lodged in the bottom half of the Disappointment Index. Low expectations due to low ratings makes it easy to not disappoint the fanbase but it also really speaks to the topsy turvy nature of the 2018 season.

Intrust Super Cup Results

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Burleigh remain undefeated after five rounds to be the 2018 ISC equivalent of the 2017 Storm. Devils slipped back into second place with an eyebrow-raising win over the Hunters and erstwhile cardinal rivals, the Pride, struggled in Ipswich. Behind them, there’s a stack of chasers, led by Souths (big winners over Wynnum-Manly). The travails of Easts continue as they drop out of sight of the finals places. If Brodie Croft continues to stink it up in first grade, he could be back to bolster the Tigers’ stocks.