With the Origin distraction now almost behind us for another year, clubs will return their focus to what’s left of the NRL season proper, in their pursuit of premiership glory.
But with all the byes, Origin disruptions, injuries and the like, the run home becomes a tough prospect for some teams, while the others tend to pace themselves through the mid-season in preparation for the latter rounds.
So which clubs have a history of performing and not performing at the pointy end of the season? Good question. And I have the answer.
The following data is from 1998 until 2015 and focuses solely on results from Rounds 18 to 26 inclusive. Naturally, these tell you little about the form of the teams this year, but it does show a fascinating trend for some clubs, especially in specific rounds.
The Bulldogs have won 14 of their 18 matches in Round 18, giving them a success rate of 77.78%. Yet at the other end of the scale sits North Queensland, who has won in Round 18 just once in 13 games, at a rate of 7.69%. Other good performers are Manly, Canberra and Newcastle, all over 60%. Meanwhile, the Dragons, Tigers and Titans are all under 37%.
Brisbane lead the way for victories in Round 19, with 14 from 16 games at 87.50%. Manly’s record of 10 wins from 14 at 71.43% and the Dragons’ 11 from 16 at 68.75% are damn impressive, too. The Warriors and Roosters are also just over 60%. The Titans trail the comp with just a 22.22% success rate, while Penrith, Cronulla, Newcastle and the Cowboys all have between 35% and 39%.
Manly and Canberra are both over 70% while the Storm, Bulldogs and Cowboys are all over 60% success. The Warriors’ 31.25% is the worst, with the Tigers, Panthers and Titans all under 38% as well showing that this round is generally fairly competitive.
The Wests Tigers are the kings of Round 21, having won 68.75% of their games, closely followed by the Storm and then the Roosters, both over 60%. The Raiders have won just 3 of their 17 games in this round at 17.65% and comfortably bring up the rear. The Sharks 38.89% and Warriors 35.29% are the next two worst.
Parramatta claims top honours this time, with a success rate of 73.33%. Melbourne, Newcastle, Souths and Canterbury all have over 60% as well. The Cowboys are back at the bottom, with 22.22% success, closely followed by Penrith on 29.41%.
The Storm (77.78%) and Bulldogs (76.47%) lead the field strongly here. Parramatta, Roosters and Manly all have just on or over 60%. The Sharks are the worst, having won just a third of their Round 23 matches, with the Cowboys, Broncos and Warriors not faring much better.
The Storm again top the lot with 13 wins from 17 games at 76.47%. Penrith and Manly are next, despite both being on and barely above 60%. The Rabbitohs have won just a quarter of these games and bring up the rear, with the Tigers, Raiders and Cowboys the next worst.
The Roosters and Cowboys both have won just over 70% of their Round 25 games, while Manly is next best on 64.29%. The Tigers have won just a fifth of these games, while Souths and the Titans only manage to win every third game on average.
The Roosters and Dragons are both winning over 73% of their Round 26 clashes while the Raiders and the Storm are not far behind on 68.75% with the Cowboys a little further back on just over 62%. The Sharks, Titans and Souths all have 25% success in this round, while the Eels and Tigers are both between 30% and 38%.
So, if we were to take each side’s success rate per round and used that to determine who would win the remaining games before the finals, with only the current ladder position used to determine the winner in the result of a tie, the Round 26 ladder would look like this (I’ve taken the liberty of deducting the 12 points off Parramatta, and have made no changes to the points difference).
Do the numbers lie, or is there something in each teams’ success rate in a specific round that provide an insight to how the rest of the season will unfold? The Bulldogs and Dragons will certainly be hoping there’s something in it, while the Warriors will be desperate to disprove history in their bid to return to the finals.