NRL Recap – Round 8, 2018

The Anzac round stretched over an enormous five days and feels like it has been running since the Gallipoli landing. Nonetheless, on the day itself nearly a week ago, the Dragons carved out a convincing win over the Roosters while in front of sell out crowd in Melbourne, the Storm completely dismantled the Warriors with an embarrassingly easy 40 point win, placing the Storm back in to the top four. On Thursday, a see-sawing battle between the Broncos and the Rabbitohs resolved in Brisbane’s favour thanks to Milford’s short kicking game.

Newcastle surprised the Sea Eagles with their biggest win of the year and Penrith came from behind against a fired up Bulldogs side to win on Friday. The Titans looked uninterested in winning as they were ground out of their game by the Sharks and the Raiders had an easy enough back 60 minutes against the Cowboys with the latter not posing much of a threat to anyone. Finally, Parramatta may have their season starting to point in the right direction with a close fought win over the Tigers. That takes the Tigers to 5-3, having lost all three games by a total of six whole points.

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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I regret to inform you that the Storm are at it again. The Dragons, after spending five weeks at the top, are close to being displaced by the Purple Rain. Melbourne’s big win over New Zealand has bumped their Pythag up to 18.6 and lifted them onto 17 projected wins. St George Illawarra still maintains a lead thanks to an even more impressive Pythag of 19.4. Both the Storm’s and the Dragons’ Stocky projected wins are as good as any in the league right now at 17.1.

I’ve got the Cowboys last. I don’t know when they would have been last on this metric in the past but we would have to probably go back a solid eight years to find the most recent instance of North Queensland being the competition’s weakest team. Admittedly, the are only behind Manly effectively on points difference (remember that Manly led the Power Index after round 2’s flogging of Parra) and that their outlook according to the Stocky is slightly better by the better part of a win.

Hope

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I feel like the Hope Index was made for the mid-2010s Newcastle Knights and they have taken their rightful place as the NRL’s most hopeful team. Starting the season 5-3, with five wins of six points or less, is a pretty big deal when the team only won five games last year and one game the year before. Enjoy that feeling while it lasts Knights fans, you’ve earned it.

We do have a slight issue this week with ten teams registering over 50% chance of playing in the finals. This is because when I run Stocky simulations, if the team has many wins as the eighth most winning team, that’s registered as a finals visit. I haven’t been bothered to implement a for-and-against system to separate teams, so it’s possible a simulated season will register ten teams that will go to the finals. The percentages aren’t super accurate but maybe just focus on the first number rather than the second one. It is only round eight after all.

Panic

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I would comfortably put a line through all bar the top five in this list in the wooden spoon race. I would bet, if such a market existed, that the final bottom four teams will be made up from those five. There is an outside risk of a bolter – and you’d have to think that the Cowboys would be it on paper or the Eels based on their last couple of games – getting themselves out of the quagmire and into fresh air but the rest will have to suffer and fight amongst themselves not to be last.

It’s early days but with Manly’s key players already not giving any sorts of f-words, that’s an issue for the Sea Eagles. Next week may see a panic rating go positive and, if it does, their wooden spoon chances may become too large for them to claw back.

Fortune

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The Knights after a raft of close wins are our new Fortune leaders, taking over from the Warriors whose massive loss at the hands of the Storm makes it look like the team is well outperforming their Pythag expectations. They are, as well as outperforming what their Elo rating would suggest. If their form continues to drop off, then they will fall in the Fortune Index, as their performance normalises.

Horrifying, for different reasons, to think that the Eels, Sea Eagles and Storm are playing below their true level.

Disappointment

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We are one more Storm win and/or Cowboys loss away from the lead in the Disappointment Index changing hands for the first time this season.

Newcastle are three wins away, with two-thirds of the season still to go, from exceeding our expectations.

Intrust Super Cup Results

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Tweed took full advantage of having a NRL quality half and put Mackay to the sword. Norths took a close one over Easts with a late try to Sam Tagatese and conversion from Todd Murphy. The Jets were in control against the Dolphins in Ipswich. A garbage time try to Justin Olam made the Falcons-Pride match look closer than it was, with the Pride otherwise comfortable winners. Burleigh were in doubt at half time but came home quickly over PNG to continue their strong start to the year and relegate the Hunters to 2-6 and second last on the ladder. In Townsville, the Blackhawks were too strong for the Magpies. The loss pushes Souths from second down to fifth.