I’m not going to sugarcoat it: it wasn’t a great round of football by any stretch of the imagination. I think the see-sawing battle between the Panthers and the Cowboys, with North Queensland picking up a much needed victory, was the closest we could come to enjoying the on-field product. As if we needed a reminder that close is not always entertaining, three games ended 22-20 (the first time ever that the same score has been racked up three times in one round) and all were closer to waterboarding to watch than entertainment. Brisbane won off the back of a late penalty goal, although realistically should’ve put 40 past the Bulldogs. Cronulla took their foot off the gas way too early and let Parramatta back in before a missed Mitchell Moses conversion attempt after the siren ended that dream. Sydney and Manly flailed at each other for roughly eighty minutes with neither impressing anyone that matters.
The Bunnies were all over the Knights in front of another big Novocastrian crowd. The Raiders comfortably defeated the Titans at home while the Warriors were imperious in their meticulous demolition of not only the Tigers but the Wests fanbase’s spirit. In what was supposed to be the match of the round, the Dragons had no trouble putting away Melbourne in the second half. The Storm left frustrated after the referees refused to allow them to break the rules in order to score points.
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 Dragons put in a big win over the Storm on the weekend and it shows in this week’s Power Index. Last week, it was 18 played 17 in favour of St George Illawarra. This week, that gap has extended to 19-16. The Dragons have so efficiently dispatched all comers that their minor premiership chances have doubled in one week. Even though the on-field product was relatively crappy, that’s how important that game was for the season overall. Of course, the Red V could ruin it all by losing next week. As we saw with the Storm last year, any loss from now on will be considered unexpected and therefore a relatively a big blow to the Dragons’ Elo rating and by extension, their Stocky chances.
It’ll bounce back the following week though, so don’t worry. The Dragons will meet the Storm again in round 17.
I think a bit like Souths, after a really bad start to the season, everyone has forgotten about Canberra. But there they are, in second place, having notched four wins from their last five games. I mean, they’ve beaten four of the bottom five teams to get those wins and got hammered by the Bunnies, so maybe we shouldn’t read too much into that yet but it is a Hope Index and it isn’t meant to be strictly rational.
What I find a bit more surprising is the Tigers’ finals chances have dropped off a cliff. We had them at 75% two weeks ago and 70% just last week. A big loss at the hands of the Warriors has shaken the Stocky’s confidence in Wests but I personally maintain the faith. If anyone currently in the top eight is exiting based on what we saw this week, it’ll be the Sharks or the Roosters.
Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that Doha, Qatar is hot but dry. It is humid as balls as well as being an oven, and I speak from personal experience, but these could be conditions under which the Doha Sea Eagles could thrive. It certainly isn’t happening in Sydney.
Manly’s two dozen fans might be a bit distressed when the team is relocated to The Pearl but seeing as they can’t be bothered travelling to Allianz, I don’t think they should get a say. Irrespective, the Panic Index has the Sea Eagles hanging on by a thread. That’s a rating of -1 and if anything else goes wrong this year, they’re going over the top. We have them at a 37% chance of finishing in dead last place compared to a 3% chance of making the finals. The Cowboys’ win has seen them exit the race for the bottom four, leaving it to Parra, Canterbury, the Gold Coast and the newly minted Qatari club to fight for the ligneous honour.
In the space of about two weeks, the Broncos have gone from mid-table on the Fortune Index right to the top. That’s what happens when you start winning games. More surprising is that the Knights have maintained the same winning percentage and have managed to do so with a points difference of -76. That is massive and cognitively dissonant. In 2017, the only teams that after round 9 that had a similar or worse points difference were on 3-6. In 2015, the worst team PD after round 9 was -53, nearly four converted tries better. If Newcastle can maintain such an aberration in the face of the analytic gods, more power to them but we won’t be seeing them budge from the top of this list.
The chasing teams from the Storm have stepped back a bit this week, with each of the Cowboys, Sharks and Broncos registering a win to put a more comfortable buffer between them and the top. Up two places on last week, the Bulldogs need ten more wins this year to register a negative disappointment rating. Do you see Canterbury going 10-5 for the rest of 2018? I sure as hell don’t. At the bottom, the Knights, Warriors and Dragons are all a few wins off officially not being disappointing and I think they’ll all get there.
Intrust Super Cup Results
The short round 9 saw both Burleigh and Norths loses unexpectedly to lower ranked rivals. The Blackhawks’ win over the Bears starts to put them in some sort of contention to fight for the title while the Devils’ loss to the Cutters puts them back in the pack. Souths fought off a late finishing Easts to take the win in a high-scoring affair and also secure a place in the chasing pack. On the Sunshine Coast, the Falcons meted out a lesson in rugby league to the Capras, shutting them out on the way to scoring seven unanswered tries.