We had a delayed start to round 14, with play between Penrith and Canberra not getting underway until the Friday pub slot. The Raiders faded, as they are wont to do, and let Nathan Cleary slot the winning field goal in the closing minutes, securing two wins in the week for the young halfback. Souths were run a lot closer by the Gold Coast than anyone anticipated with the rain making play difficult and the game degenerating into a mess. The Warriors got home comfortably against the Sea Eagles in Christchurch, only letting in tries in garbage time.
Sydney, despite their high dollar roster, made a meal of yet another game against lowly opponents. A late try to Kalyn Ponga almost snagged the Knights the win but it was too little, too late. The Eels jagged a surprise win against the overcooked Knights in Darwin while the Sharks gagged the Tigers and continue to smother opponents out of games. The Broncos played well for about sixty minutes against the Storm before being blown off the park once again by the Melbourne side after weakly defended tries were conceded.
With the long weekend in Sydney, the final game wasn’t played until Monday afternoon while I was cruelly at work, hating on life. The Dragons apparently won that but I also used the delay recap to publish a long form piece about failed rugby league clubs. If you haven’t already, you should read 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.
The good thing about the Stocky is that it sees through the bye competition points. There are three contenders for the minor premiership: St George Illawarra, South Sydney and Penrith. Each are projected for seventeen wins, so the race is likely to come down to for-and-against. As we should know, no team outside the top four has ever won a NRL premiership and the closer to the top of the ladder you finish, the more likely you are to win on grand final day.
That said, we have our new premiership triumvirate (remember when we all thought it would be the Storm, Roosters and Cowboys? Ha, how naive we were!) are all equally likely, about a one-in-four chance each, of taking the minor premiership. Everyone else adds up to the final 25% with another trio of teams, Melbourne, Sydney and Cronulla, likely to finish on fifteen wins apiece.
My guess? Penrith. But then I said that back in January too.
I also thought Parramatta and Canberra would be good and Cronulla crap, so there you go.
Our premiership triumvirate are almost locks on finals positions. They need another three (two if they’re lucky) wins to make the top eight with ten or eleven games in hand, so even if they drop the ball for the rest of the season, they should be OK. The Dragons do look like they’re coming off form but the Panthers and Bunnies are just getting warmed up. Unfortunately for us neutrals, they don’t meet each other on the run home, having had their rendezvous in round 2 before each side really found their feet.
Everyone else, Cronulla, Melbourne, Sydney and New Zealand, are pretty close to locking in their position. The race is really for the final spot and it’s between the Tigers and the Broncos. I may be biassed but I don’t see Wests getting home on this one. Brisbane don’t have a particularly difficult run home and seem to be under-rated by Archimedes but Wests have to play the Dragons and Bunnies twice. Not good.
Sound the klaxon, the Eels have gone positive. Positively panicky that is. With a 38% chance of getting the wooden spoon, the weekend’s victory in Darwin is not likely to be enough to prevent the Eels from finishing last. Should they continue as they are and finish last, it will be the fourteenth in their history, edging ever closer to the seventeen taken by Western Suburbs.
In good news, the Sharks, Storm, Panthers, Rabbitohs, Dragons, Roosters and Warriors all registered a big fat donut in the wooden spoon stakes. That those seven are probably all locked-in finalists is no coincidence.
The Warriors and the Broncos are batting well above what their Pythag suggests they should be. The Bulldogs should be on about five or six wins based on their form and points difference. They’re like a slightly worse Raiders with no ability to score points. Canberra are, at least, dialled in on rating form but still below Pythag. They maybe should be another win up.
The rest are within the margin of error for these sorts of projections.
The Storm won and the Cowboys lost and… it’s still Melbourne on top. The only thing more disappointing this season than the media’s coverage of it, is how slowly this index has changed.
I really thought that the Knights would be the first to go into a negative rating but a recent run of poor form has seen the Warriors slip in under them. They need another 0.1 of win (with eleven games to play) to go negative. They’re playing the Cowboys next week and the Knights are playing the Storm, so I think it’s likely we’ll see New Zealand go negative on their disappointment rating first and the leader might actually change.
Intrust Super Cup Results
A late try to Gideon Gela-Mosby with an after the siren conversion sealed an impressive win for the Pride on the Gold Coast. One would think GGM is due a call-up for the Cowboys any week now, while the halves pairing of Biondi-Ono and Clifford impressed. The Sunshine Coast managed an upset of sorts, repeating their elimination final win from last year over Souths Logan. Brodie Croft and his Easts Tigers fell to another loss, this time at the hands of Townsville. Kane Elgey beat Dave Taylor by a field goal and I’m sure some other dudes contributed. The Devils upset the Dolphins with four tries in the second half, including two in the last ten minutes, to come from four down to win by eight. The Seagulls got another win against the Jets and the Cutters were no match for the Hunters at home.