Sunday 17 December 2017 / 03:13 PM

FINDING THE CONTENDERS’ ‘SWEET SPOT’

There’s a scoreline every club gets to where they seemingly know – or perhaps it’s just a statistical phenomenon – that they are unbeatable from. With the finals in the do-or-die stages, this sweet spot becomes a vitally important number, as it signifies a point where success is virtually guaranteed.

The following data is based on the last 50 games for each of the remaining finalists. All of these sides, with the exception of Penrith, have a success rate of at least 56 percent. Penrith’s is at 48 percent.

Melbourne – 14
Last 50 games – Round 2, 2015 to Finals week 1, 2016
Won 34, Lost 16 = 68%

Melbourne has not won a game when they have scored less than 14 points. Ten of their 16 losses have come when they have failed to reach 14 points. After this point they have won 36 games and lost just 6. The Storm’s highest losing score is 22, which happened twice: against Manly in Round 2, 2015 (lost 24-22) and against Parramatta in Round 14, 2015 (lost 26-22). Since then, their highest losing score has been 16.

Melbourne’s win percentage over the last 50 games reaches 50% when they score 20 points. They have scored 30-38 points 7 times, 40-49 points 3 times and 50+ once.

24 of Melbourne’s last 50 scores fall between 14 and 22 points.

Canberra – 21
Last 50 games – Round 26, 2014 to Finals week 1, 2016
Won 28, Drawn 1, Lost 21 = 56%

The Raiders are an impeccable pointscoring machine, however they seem incapable of grinding out low-scoring wins. They have scored 20 points or less on 18 occasions and lost every time. However, once they pass 20 points they have won 28 games, drawn one and lost just 3 times. The highest score Canberra tallied yet still lost was 34 against the Bulldogs in Round 11, 2015 (they lost 41-34). Since then it drops down to 24.

Canberra’s win percentage over the last 50 games reaches 50% when they score 38. They have scored 30-39 points 12 times, 40-49 points twice, 50-59 points 3 times and reached 60 points once.

23 of Canberra’s last 50 scores fall between 20 and 30 points.

Cronulla – 15
Last 50 games – Round 2, 2015 to Finals week 1, 2016
Won 33, Drawn 1, Lost 16 = 66%

The Sharks have long held the title as kings of grinding football, regularly winning games by small margins. This season has seen their attack come to the fore. They have 3 wins and 10 losses when they have scored 14 points or less, but from 15 points onwards they have 30 wins, 1 draw and 6 losses. Their highest losing score was 22 against the Titans back in Round 4, 2015. Since then it has been 18.

Cronulla’s win percentage over the last 50 games reaches 50% when they score 25. They have scored 30-39 points 10 times, 40-49 points twice and reached 60 points once.

24 of Cronulla’s last 50 scores fall between 12 and 22 points

North Queensland – 17
Last 50 games – Round 4, 2015 til Finals week 1, 2016
Won 35, Lost 15 = 70%

The Cowboys are another strong attacking outfit who have haven’t lost once they pass 20 points. They have passed 20 points on 27 occasions, equal with the Broncos and bettered only by Canberra (who have achieved the feat 28 times). Once they reach 17 points they have won 34 games and lost just 4. Their highest losing score was 20 back in Round 4 this year when they lost to Brisbane, 21-20.

The Cowboys’ win percentage over their last 50 games hits 50% when they score 30 points. They have scored 30-39 points 15 times, 40-49 points 5 times and 50+ once.

25 of North Queensland’s last 50 scores fall between 18 and 30 points

Brisbane – 19
Last 50 games – Round 3, 2015 to Finals week 1, 2016
Won 34, Lost 16 = 68%

The Broncos have a similar record to the Cowboys. Both have six wins when scoring less than 20 points. Brisbane has lost 1 game more though in this period. When Brisbane have scored 19 points or more they have won 28 games and lost just 3. Their highest score when losing was 28 against Cronulla in Round 9 this year. Their next lowest was 22.

Brisbane’s win percentage over their last 50 games reaches 50% when they score 26 points. They have scored 30-39 points 8 times, 40-49 points 6 times and 50+ once.

26 of Brisbane’s last 50 scores fall between 14 and 26 points

Penrith – 19
Last 50 games – Preliminary Final, 2014 to Finals week 1, 2016
Won 24, Lost 26 = 48%

Penrith have a very poor record when they are kept to 18 points or less, where they have won just two of 23 games. Their form is completely reversed after this point though, where they have 22 wins and 3 losses. Their highest losing score was 26, which they scored when they lost 34-26 to the Wests Tigers in Round 17 this year. They have lost 5 games when scoring 20 points or more.

Penrith’s win percentage over their last 50 games fails to reach 50%, thanks largely to a poor 2015 season. They have scored 30-39 points 7 times, 40-49 points 3 times. Two of those 40-point scorelines have come in the last 5 weeks.

26 of Penrith’s last 50 scores fall between 12 and 24 points

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About the author

Andrew Ferguson

A rugby league historian and stats buff – most notably as the brains behind the phenomenal Rugby League Project resource – Melbourne-based Andrew has written extensively for Rugby League Review and the Men of League magazine, and is a valued addition to CBS’s rugby league stable.

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