I spent the weekend in Melbourne – drinking beer at GABS Festival, which Sydney peeps should get around when it comes to town – so I didn’t watch a whole lot of rugby league compared to a usual weekend. Look, it was probably not quite four games with the second half of Toronto-Toulouse thrown in from the Magic Weekend at St James in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Which, on paper, is still an insanely large amount of rugby league.
I won’t go through the results, which are below, but the obvious talking point was the sheer number of sin binnings. While the weekend saw some genuinely bad calls (players let back on the field without serving a full sin binning, conversions given when the ball missed…), it is good to see the refs continue with their crackdown and re-establishing some authority over the game. Eventually, the players and coaches will respond and the game will be better for it.
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.
Alright, so while I missed last week’s recap, almost nothing has changed. The most noticeable is that the Storm is falling away a little from the leaders after their shock loss to Manly over the weekend. It cost them something on the order of fifty rating points and so the Stocky has them down on a pathetic 13.8 wins. Given that it’s only May and they’ve already lost more games than in all of 2017, the Storm are struggling by their own lofty standards this year.
The Dragons continue to lead the way, with the Panthers and now the Rabbitohs chasing behind. It’s definitely shaping up as a good year for the less objectionable Sydney teams. Between them, they are a 75% chance of winning the minor premiership, based on what we’ve seen so far.
The good ol’ Hope index is now dominated the Sharks, who have now won five in a row. I didn’t notice because they play one of the least entertaining forms of footy this side of Bankstown but, unlike the Bulldogs, they at least put points on the board and rack up Ws. The irony is that Paul Gallen missed most of the run through injury. The Rabbitohs are putting on a chase but it will take two more weeks for the loss to the Broncos to pass out of their last five games. Both teams have surprised on the upside through April and May.
The race for eighth spot, if the Sharks insist on winning more games, is then between the Tigers and the Broncos. Of the teams stuck on 6-5, ranging from sixth to ninth on the ladder, these two are at the bottom, crippled by weak points differences. The Storm and the Roosters are rated much more highly, so are 79% and 76% chance of making the finals respectively, while the other two are a coin toss. In my personal opinion, I wonder if the Tigers have another seven wins in them this year. They’re going to struggle with two games against Souths, two against St George Illawarra, one against Sydney and one against Cronulla in their immediate future. That doesn’t leave a lot of opportunities to drop games against their easier opponents. Then again, the Broncos have a similar uphill battle.
I said a little while ago that we had our bottom four, being selected from the then bottom five teams. Since then, Manly have found a scrap of form and have taken down Brisbane and Melbourne in back to back weeks. Whereas, after round 8, the Sea Eagles were a 29% chance of the wooden spoon and first on the Panic Index. This week, that chance has dropped to 6% and the Knights are emerging, as they have for the last six years running, as a candidate to be finishing much closer to the bottom of the table than the top.
Over that same period, Parramatta have reverted to their mean, losing both of their last games and making themselves at home at the bottom of the ladder and the top of the Panic Index. I would be considering taking the next three months off the footy if I were an Eels fan. The Cowboys, Titans and Bulldogs aren’t doing much better.
This week’s cool stat: the Broncos, Knights and Sharks have fourteen wins between them that have been decided by six or fewer points. They only have eighteen wins between them of any sort. Narrow, lucky edgings out of opponents have kept these seasons going, as opposed to outright floggings. The Sharks, Broncos and Knights may be this year’s equivalent of the 2017 Roosters.
Next week is the decider: the Storm will face off with the Cowboys. If the Storm win (and I would guess that’s a 65-70% chance) then North Queensland will still have a capability gap of 11.2 wins and Melbourne will be down on 10.7 and that might be enough for a changing of the guard for the first time this year. There’s a gap back to Parra, Brisbane and Canterbury who are nine to ten wins shy of their respective targets for this season.
Intrust Super Cup Results
Not watching QCup has never stopped me from writing about it. All of the games went the expected way, which is probably a first this year with Redcliffe, Ipswich, PNG, Burleigh, Tweed, Souths Logan and Townsville all taking wins over their less fancied rivals. In this incredibly competitive season, one win sees you falling off the pace being set by the leaders. The top three are on 7-3 or better while the next five sit on 6-4 and 5-5. Consistency, as ever, will be important in the minor premiership race.