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Tough to split four giants in final race

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Berkeley_Eagle, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. Berkeley_Eagle

    Berkeley_Eagle Current Status: 24/7 Manly Fan 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +2,097 / 13
    Phil Gould

    Five rounds to go. Which team do you like to win the NRL competition? Why? Is your heart ruling your head? Or have you drilled down into the science of it all and produced an educated opinion?
    What are the most important factors in winning a premiership? I would say the overall quality of your player roster is obviously number one. I've worked out what I think might be the strongest possible line-ups for each of the four teams and broken them down into the four key areas - the spine, the three-quarters, the back-rowers and the front-rowers. I'm not the coach, so this is just my opinion. However, we get the general idea of just how formidable these teams could be at their best.

    I've left Jason King and Joe Galuvao out of the Manly line-up as they won't return this season but the Storm's Jason Ryles, Junior Moors and Gareth Widdop, Roosters forward Martin Kennedy and Sea Eagles back-rower Tom Symonds are likely to return for the finals. I know David Tyrell was left out for Tom Burgess last week for the Rabbits but I'm sure he'll take his place in their line-up soon at Tom Burgess' expense. But if you look at the make-up of these four teams, you can see just how strong they have become.

    This year's playoff series could well be the most bruising, compelling and entertaining month of football we have witnessed in years. I know you've heard all this before, however, if all the teams arrive at September with their full roster of players available, the action should be simply outstanding.
    It was quite obvious after only one month that the top four teams in the competition had a fair bit on the rest of their rivals. Now everyone is screaming it from the rooftops.
    Even within the top four teams at the moment, there has developed something of a divide with the Rabbits and Roosters opening up a healthy gap on the Sea Eagles and the Storm. But there is now no doubt in anyone's mind that these top four teams have it over the rest of the field.

    Who do you favour? In order, I like the Roosters, Rabbits, Sea Eagles then Storm.

    Defence wins premierships. Since the 2006 season, the premiership-winning team each year has ranked first or second in defence for the season.
    So far after 20 rounds in 2013 the defence records (points conceded) read this way: Roosters (11.6), Rabbitohs (14.2), Sea Eagles (14.3), Storm (16.5).
    While Manly rank third in points conceded per game, they only rank eighth in missed tackles conceded. Their defensive line of late is giving up opportunities. This could come back to hurt them in the big games against the top teams.
    Incredibly, the Roosters have the best defensive record although they concede the most penalties. That is an amazing statistic. The worst discipline and the best defensive record don't generally go hand in hand.
    I think the key to defence in big games is how much defence you are forced to do and what part of the field you are regularly defending. Where and when you give the ball to your opposition is vitally important. This comes down to how well you control your time in possession and limiting your turnovers.
    If we look at handling errors committed within your own 40m zone, we see the Storm are easily the most disciplined of all of the top four, with 21 errors so far this season. The Roosters have made 28 errors in this zone and Manly 32. The Rabbits rank 15th in the NRL in this category with 40 errors. Wow! That could come back to bite them.
    What I have noticed about the Roosters recently is just how effectively they are advancing the ball up-field through their tremendous forward pack. They don't have to effect many clearing kicks because no matter where their set of six starts, they are invariably in position for an attacking kick like a high bomb by tackle five. This is placing tremendous pressure on their opponents.
    Kicking game? This includes the whole range of kicks and the ability of the team to compliment the kicks with effective kick chase. I see a lot of players practising their kicking games; I don't see enough players practicing their chasing games. Kicks to relieve pressure, 40/20 option, accuracy of bombs, cross-field kicks and grubber kicks, forcing line drop-outs, field goal exponent - they all matter.
    Which team has the best overall kicking game? Again, I like Melbourne. Cooper Cronk is so accurate and reliable. The left foot of Cameron Smith is such a great combination to Cronk as well.
    Adam Reynolds is developing nicely. However, he is unproven at the back end of the season. This is his chance to rise to the occasion.
    The Sea Eagles and Roosters tend not to rely on conventional attacking kicking games. They back themselves to run in the points.
    Of course, the defence to your opponent's kicking game is another big factor. Mostly you want all your opponent's kicks to be clearing kicks from their own end of the field. You need to pressure the kickers to put them off their game, which is very difficult these days because if a defender as much as breathes on a kicker, the referee blows a penalty. It's utterly ridiculous.
    I like the Storm's ability to contend with their opposition's kicking game. Their back three are all very safe under the high ball.
    I rank leadership and experience in big matches highly when considering a team's title credentials. This includes the coach. The Storm leadership and coaching group have the runs on the board. They won't be intimidated by big-match football.
    The old adage that forwards win big games is still valid. Which forward pack do you like? I love the Roosters' front-row rotation. I also think they have the best attacking back rowers. Boyd Cordner and Mitch Aubusson are line breakers. And then of course we have the great Sonny Bill Williams.
    Souths have the artillery to match them on their day. They are big and powerful. The Burgess brothers are incredible. I love the skill factor Manly's Glenn Stewart provides.
    The Storm forwards are tradesmen-like. Ryan Hoffman provides punch but doesn't possess great footwork. Teams will need creativity so we look to the spine combination of 9, 7, 6 and 1. I guess most would agree the Storm have the big-match players in this category. The three big names - Smith, Cronk and Slater - have produced under pressure for club, state and country.
    A really good statistic I like to compare is how many touches inside the opposition 20m zone a team needs for its playmakers to produce a try. Again the top four teams rank in the top five in this part of the game. Interestingly, the Warriors rate highly in this regard as well.

    The ability to produce points from close range when you need them most comes down to composure, confidence, structure and execution. The Roosters again rank number one: Roosters (19.8), Souths (20.9), Warriors (21), Storm (21.5), Sea Eagles (23.3), Knights (23.7), Bulldogs (24.4).
    We also know penalties can turn a game, especially when you invite your opponent into attacking zone via your own indiscretion. I often look at the teams who turn penalty opportunities into tries. It shows which teams operate best from set restarts where they can execute rehearsed plays. Rabbits, Manly and Roosters rank in the top four. Surprisingly, the Storm rank 14th in this category.

    The amount of tries scored by teams this season after receiving a penalty: Souths (22), Sea Eagles (20), Cowboys (19), Roosters (19), Bulldogs (18), Broncos (15), Warriors (14).
    Speed? You must have speed. Everyone needs speed. The top four teams all have speed. However, at the pointy end of the season, your outside backs need to also have grunt and experience. I lean towards the Sea Eagles a little here, particularly the experience of Jamie Lyon and Steve Matai in the centres. They are big-show performers.

    So what do you notice most about my conclusions? South Sydney don't rank number one in any of the categories I have listed. Yet they are leading the competition! Go figure.
    Maybe the Rabbits are just the best team! I haven't got a statistic to support that theory. Maybe in the end it will come down to that team mentality and chemistry. Maybe it will just come down to heart and desire. Which team ranks first in these bare essentials?
    Like they say, big matches come down to big plays and the big moments. Which player gets there first? Only time will tell. It should be great. Good luck to all teams.
    Twitter: @gusgould91

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/tough-to-split-four-giants-in-final-race-20130803-2r66k.html#ixzz2axVxBAR5
  2. Andy 1972

    Andy 1972 Active Member

    +47 / 0
    I think Souths odds will go out a little after last night, especially if Sutton is out for an extended period. Without him and Inglis, they look a little vunerable. We look strong though, 5 straight wins and momentum behind us, but Tooves said last night, there is still improvement left in us. We're looking very good for another tilt at the premiership.

    Manly Forever.
  3. 1969

    1969 Well-Known Member

    Burleigh Heads
    +280 / 42
    I think our edge will come from the interchange bench. Notice Ballin darting from dummy half, ferreting around and through the defence, making awesome ground up the middle. Joe used to do this prior to his injury. If Joe can come back with some fitness, straight and hard up the middle, play it back to Ferris who does the same, play it back to Ballin who does the same.... The rest will take care of itself. These players are making a platform for our better known stars. Unsung hero's who can give us momentum to win the comp.
  4. mickqld

    mickqld Sack Greenslime 2016 Tipping Competitor

    Gold Coast
    +3,720 / 55
    I seriously doubt Joe or King will be back. looking at our bench Ritchie,Buhrer who has improved lately, Rose and Tommy S when he comes back, would 2V put in Joe who must have lost a lot of fitness for Rose so close to the finals?
  5. 1969

    1969 Well-Known Member

    Burleigh Heads
    +280 / 42
    You are probably right mick, it would be near impossible to keep the fitness in his legs with that type of injury, albeit, if Joe did make it back, I would drop Gorgeous off.

    Either way, think we are looking strong ever since Snake has come back. Richie and Ferris have been a bonus!
  6. Moondog

    Moondog Grey-beard loon Premium Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    Hervey Bay
    +3,396 / 32
    As I've pointed out before in 1978, 1987, 1996, 2008 and 2011 little moondogs have made an appearance. New grand-daughter was born this year.
    I suspect the grand final is already a foregone conclusion.
    • Like Like x 5
  7. Terry-Randal

    Terry-Randal Active Member

    +45 / 0
    Storm have shown what they can do 64 points thrashing of raiders. they and the bulldogs i think will be hard to beat.
  8. Shoe1

    Shoe1 Well-Known Member

    +4,358 / 66
  9. mickqld

    mickqld Sack Greenslime 2016 Tipping Competitor

    Gold Coast
    +3,720 / 55
    We've won 5 in a row. There's 5 games left plus 3 or 4 finals games. That's an unbeaten run of 13 to win the premiership. Assuming we have to have a loss or 2 I would say a loss to Souths in a couple of weeks then go on a 6 game streak to take the title. Sounds easy.
  10. bob dylan

    bob dylan Well-Known Member Premium Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +4,328 / 125
    In my mind we are 5th pick at the moment.

    Might change in a couple of weeks.

    Lack of big man I see as our real problem.

    Beating rubbish 5 weeks in a row means nothing.

    If we can win 3 our last 5 I might get excited, still too far to go yet.
  11. bones

    bones Bones Knows Premium Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +8,870 / 99
    I disagree. Defence wins big games and we are number two defensively. We are third in attack. We are top 3 material for sure.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Brissie Kid

    Brissie Kid Well-Known Member

    +812 / 10
    If the referees do what they usually do in September and let the tackled player walk forward to take out the markers or don't properly get to their feet, both of which get quick play the balls & penalties, then the Storm and Rabbitohs will kill us.

    If instead the referees enforce the play the ball rules properly Manly will do ok as we have a team of footballers that can create from a standing start.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. SeaEagleRock8

    SeaEagleRock8 Sea Eagle Lach Staff Member Premium Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +6,619 / 118
    JWH is one player who does this almost every time he plays the ball.
  14. Clint

    Clint . Premium Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +1,629 / 13
    Who is in front of us, do you think BD?
    Storm, Souths, Roosters.

    I know they touched up the Raiders yesterday, but I have this feeling the Storm won't make the GF. I can see them getting bundled out personally.

    I know this might sound like a cop out, but I rate the chances as the table stands atm.
    Roosters, Rabbits, Us, Storm then daylight.
    I probably have the Rabbits as top pick actually.
    How long is Sutton out for? That obviously brings the Rabbits back a bit. (not that I rate Sutton)
    • Like Like x 1
  15. SeaEagleRock8

    SeaEagleRock8 Sea Eagle Lach Staff Member Premium Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +6,619 / 118
    Yep, that's the way that you roll :p
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Killer03

    Killer03 Well-Known Member

    +2,663 / 26
    So is it the Dogs you have in the Top 4 ahead of us?
  17. simon_eagle

    simon_eagle Well-Known Member

    East Sydney
    +315 / 7
    I agree, and I'm sure this article was written before South's game on Saturday night. A real worry for the Rabbits and I am almost certain they won't make the GF unless both players come back from injury before the final series.

    I think we are 2nd to the Roosters now.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Daddycool08

    Daddycool08 Well-Known Member

    +371 / 4
    Well if he does tackle the **** out of him as he is about to play the ball.

    We'll get penalised but at least that'll put the refs on notice that they need to police the play the ball area correctly.
  19. MK Eagle

    MK Eagle Well-Known Member

    +247 / 0
    The only way to stop opposition "STEPPING" is to win the tackle. Roosters are good at this due to the amount of runners they commit in every play making it difficult to win the tackle.
    1st contact needs to be good & their should be a chopper-Legs & container-ball making 3 in the tackle & usually will control the attacker & get him on his back- rare with JWH though.
    This is where the Roosters are winning- it looks like Maloney & co out wide but the fowards are steamrolling every team in the middle 3rd of the park to provide the time & space out wide against backpeddling defence.
  20. Chip and Chase

    Chip and Chase True Supporter Staff Member Administrator Premium Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

    +6,251 / 44
    He must have been watching the master of this technique, the one and only B Slater. He would be lucky to play the ball on the mark 1 in every 50 attempts, the other 49 he is walking off the mark and pushing forward or sideways to take the markers out of play. There is no surprise to learn that he never gets penalised for it either.

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