NRL Through Round 9 | Your Team's Chances Of Winning The Premiership
We're now a tick over two months into the 2021 NRL season and the Top 4 is already locked in.
The Panthers and Storm are in a league of their own at the moment while the Rabbitohs and Eelsare also distancing themselves from the rest of the pack.
The Roosters are still a Top-8 side despite the injuries which leaves a battle for the remaining three spots. The wooden spoon, on the other hand, is already hanging out of the Bulldogs cutlery draw as they continue to struggle through the early rounds of the season.
The Stats Insider Futures Model has crunched the numbers so let's take a look at where all 16 teams stand in the race for the premiership, Top 4, Top 8 and wooden spoon after nine rounds.
Top 4: 0.0%
Top 8: 2.4%
Most Losses: 19.6%
The Brisbane Broncos are once again in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon in 2021. While they've shown glimpses of good football and improved significantly over the last fortnight, their 19-18 loss to the Cowboys in Round 9 is one that got away. It also highlighted the lack of leadership in the side, an issue that has plagued the club for two or three years now.
Kevin Walters is next to no chance of coaching his way to a finals spot in his first season in charge. The Broncos face one of the tougher remaining schedules in the NRLand their defence - currently conceding 26.7 points per game - hasn't offered quite the same hope of improvement as their attack has over the last fortnight.
Top 4: 2.5%
Top 8: 54.8%
Most Losses: 0.4%
The Canberra Raiders are in big trouble. At 78.8% to reach the Top 8 the last time we checked into the NRL Futures Rankings, Ricky Stuart is now just a 54.4% chance of extending his finals streak to a third consecutive season.
Their loss to the Knights in Round 9 made it five defeats in a row with too many similarities to the infamous 'Canberra Faders' of recent years popping up throughout.
A foreign player on the other side of the world and missing his family is hardly breaking news, but George Williams is said to be homesick and, at the very least, unsettled. It's showing on the field with the Englishman struggling to have the same impact he did last season. Likewise, Jack Wighton hasn't come close to hitting the heights of 2020 through nine rounds.
This squad is still one of the deepest in the competition. They 'should' still play finals footy and give themselves an opportunity to peak at the right time of the season. Still, with the Storm and Roosters to come after facing the Bulldogs in Round 10, the Raiders are under pressure to keep within touching distance of the Top 8 over the next month.
Top 4: 0.0%
Top 8: 0.4%
Most Losses: 48.9%
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs are once again stuck at the bottom of the ladder and spending the season trying to climb away from the wooden spoon. Right now, the Stats Insider Futures Model doesn't like their chances.
Canterbury's defence is the worst in the competition conceding 31.1 points per game. With the ball, their 10.2 points per game is an eye-sore and genuinely difficult to watch at times.
Kyle Flanagan arrived at the club loaded with expectations. He has spectacularly failed through the first two months of the season, with his benching after 60 minutes in Round 9 the tip of the iceberg. In Flanagan's defence, he isn't getting a lot of help from his forward pack. The Bulldogs are 16th in yardage with 1,454 running metres per game and do little to dent the defensive line in exit sets.
The Bulldogs often nab a few wins to finish a season and offer hope for the next, but this group looks incapable at the moment. With the Raiders, Titans and Panthers to come before their Round 13 bye, Round 14 against the Dragons looks like their next best chance at victory.
Top 4: 0.1%
Top 8: 9.1%
Most Losses: 6.8%
Sacking John Morris is starting to look like a silly decision by the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks front office.
While keeping Morris wouldn't have ensured a place in the Top 8 for 2021, there's no question that the Sharks have taken a turn for the worst since his departure. They've won just two of their opening nine games of the season, and their once dangerous attack is only averaging 17.8 points per game (13th).
Shaun Johnson has had some good moments already. He did everything he could to secure a win over the Bulldogs in Round 7 only to be let down by those around him. If he can start sending teammates over the line as he did in 2020, the Sharks are a chance of circling the Top 8 in the latter rounds of the season. They have the second-easiest remaining draw of all 16 teams.
Gold Coast Titans
Top 4: 2.0%
Top 8: 41.4%
Most Losses: 0.7%
It has been a rough month for the Gold Coast Titans...
Once at 59.7% to make the Top 8 and 15.1% to sneak into the Top 4, they're now at just 41.4% to play finals footy and all but out of contention for a spot towards the top of the NRL ladder.
Consistency is proving to be a major issue. After thumping the Knights in Round 5, the Titans were thumped themselves in Round 6, gave up a big lead to the Rabbitohs in Round 7 and did the same against the Broncos in Round 8. A win over the Tigers in Round 9 has put the Titans back on track, but they still have a lot of work to do if they're to become the Top 8 side so many predicted throughout the preseason.
The consistency issues define their attack, too. David Fifita has often been their only option. If he isn't throwing away defenders and scoring three tries, the Titans have looked lost with the ball. They are capable of piling up points, but they'll need to spread that output over consecutive weeks if they're to end their finals drought.
RELATED: Inside the evolution of the NRL
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Top 4: 3.3%
Top 8: 55.3%
Most Losses: 0.3%
Everybody knew Tom Trbojevic would help the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles on his return from injury, but nobody knew it would look quite like this after four games.
- 5 Tries
- 8 Try Assists
- 20 Tackle Breaks
- 9 Line Breaks
- 210 Running Metres Per Game
Trbojevic has lifted Manly's chances of reaching the Top 8 from 20.1% to 55.3% in just four games.
Top 4: 87.6%
Top 8: 99.9%
Most Losses: 0.0%
The Melbourne Storm are still very good at rugby league.
Even while losing the best hooker of all time over the summer and dealing with injuries throughout the first nine rounds of the season, Melbourne remain as one of the benchmark teams of the competition.
The Storm are playing with the best attack in the NRL right now scoring 32.4 points per game. Ryan Papenhuyzen tore opposition defences to shreds before his injury. Since then, Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munsterhave dominated with the ball to keep the attack rolling. As usual, Melbourne's defence is among the best in the competition conceding just 12 points per game.
We're yet to see the best version of the Storm in 2021. Still, they are 3rd on the ladder with a massive +184 points differential.
Top 4: 1.5%
Top 8: 39.1%
Most Losses: 0.4%
The Newcastle Knights are just keeping their heads above water at the moment.
While Mitchell Pearce didn't play his best football before leaving the field after just 26 minutes in Round 4, the Knights have certainly missed his leadership and direction at times since then.
The Knights have also faced struggles in the centre-third of the field. Averaging 1,611 running metres per game, the Knights are in the middle of the pack when it comes to yardage. However, their 23.9 tackles inside the opposition 20-metre line per game is the fourth-fewest in the competition. They're not getting Kalyn Ponga and the other attacking weapons into good ball areas often enough which has translated into a 12th-ranked attack scoring 17.9 points per game.
Their 24-16 win over the Raiders gives the Knights confidence moving forward, but even then, those two points didn't come without first giving up a 16-0 lead. The Knights aren't out of finals contention but face a tough task in overcoming their current 39.1% to make the Top-8.
North Queensland Cowboys
Top 4: 0.3%
Top 8: 23.5%
Most Losses: 1.4%
A month is a long time in rugby league. The North Queensland Cowboys played like "genuine wooden spoon contenders throughout the first month."
Three wins in their last four games has put some distance between themselves and the wooden spoon (10.4% to 1.4%) and put them in the conversation for an unlikely spot in the Top-8 (11.3% to 23.5%).
It took a few weeks to stamp his authority on the side, but now nine rounds into the season and beating the teams they should, we're starting to see how Todd Payten is impacting the side from the coaches box. He has the Cowboys playing at least 40 minutes of very good football every week. If he can have this side producing closer to 80 minutes a week while still trying to figure out his best-17, we can entertain the idea of a push towards the finals.
There is a finals side in North Queensland. It's putting the pieces together and getting them healthy all before they're out of finals contention that is the challenge.
Top 4: 78.0%
Top 8: 99.5%
Most Losses: 0.0%
The Parramatta Eels could have gone either way this season.
They opened the year at 55.7% to make the Top 8 and featured in a group of four teams that looked likely to battle it out for 6th, 7th and 8th on the ladder. Not short on talent, the uncertainty around putting it all together made it difficult to go all-in on Parramatta as a definite finals side.
Now, they're 2nd on the NRL ladder and at 99.5% to feature in the Top--8 and 78.0% to remain in the Top-4. However, it's the Round 5 loss to the Dragons and unconvincing Round 9 win over the Roosters that has the Eels just outside the premiership conversation. We've seen them play well in periods before only for performances similar to those in Round 5 and 9 derail them. With the hardest draw to come through to Round 25, there are still a few question around Parramatta's premiership credentials that need answering.
We may not have those answers until much later in the year with the Raiders, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles, Storm and Panthers making up six of their last seven opponents of the regular season.
Top 4: 96.8%
Top 8: 100.0%
Most Losses: 0.0%
The Penrith Panthers are unbeaten in 2021 and have barely been tested across the opening nine rounds of the season.
Nathan Cleary is pulling the strings in attack, Jarome Luai is making a strong case for State of Origin selection, and James Fisher-Harris is arguably the new #1 prop in the world. The 2020 grand finalists are even better this season thanks to the improvements of leading players in key positions. However, it's in defence that the Panthers have really made their mark this year.
In conceding only 6.7 points per game the Panthers are playing with one of the best defences in NRL history. They're not giving opposition teams an inch. Even if the Panthers attack is struggling to find points, they continue to build pressure which further adds to the ease at which they defend.
The Panthers are doing it on both sides of the ball and are the current favourites to win the 2021 NRL Premiership.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Top 4: 84.9%
Top 8: 99.7%
Most Losses: 0.0%
Despite the boring statistic around teams conceding 50 points in a game throughout the season never winning the premiership doing the rounds recently, the South Sydney Rabbitohs are well and truly in the hunt in 2021.
While no team would ever completely ignore the sort of 50-0 drubbing the Storm handed Souths in Round 9, Wayne Bennett won't be too worried. Cameron Murray, Adam Reynolds, Latrell Mitchell, Josh Mansour and Campbell Grahamare significant losses. The reshuffle their absence caused also played a part in the heavy defeat.
When healthy, the Rabbitohs are still a premiership contender and few coaches are better at getting their team up for the games that count than Bennett. There's no reason to worry in Redfern despite the recent result. The perfectly executed set to beat the Tigers in Round 6 and the flurry of points scored to win in Round 7 and 8 are a more accurate reflection of South Sydney's standard in 2021.
St. George-Illawarra Dragons
Top 4: 1.7%
Top 8: 38.6%
Most Losses: 0.5%
The St. George-Illawarra Dragons currently occupy the 6th spot on the NRL ladder, but they are far from the sixth-best team in the competition. That much is reflected in their 38.6% to make the Top 8 despite winning five of their first nine games.
While their Round 5 win over the Eels impressed, the Dragons have otherwise beaten the Cowboys and Sea Eagles who were two of the worst teams in the competition at the time, a Knights side without Kalyn Ponga and, for the most part, Mitchell Pearce, as well as the wooden spoon favourite Bulldogs.
The Dragons draw really starts to level out after their Round 17 bye.
Round 18: @ Sea Eagles
Round 19: Titans
Round 20: Rabbitohs
Round 21: @ Raiders
Round 22: Panthers
Round 23: Roosters
Round 24: Cowboys
Round 25: @ Rabbitohs
Top 4: 39.8%
Top 8: 95.9%
Most Losses: 0.0%
Trent Robinson is a genius. The way he has this team defending despite suffering serious and long-term injuries seemingly every week is incredible.
The Eels finished up their 31-18 Round 9 win over the Roosters with a whopping 63 tackles inside the opposition 20-metre line. The Roosters, on the other hand, were tackled only six times inside the 20 throughout the 80 minutes. To stay in the game for as long as they did is a testament to Robinson and the way he has this team playing. Most others would have waved the white flag and put a fork in this season.
Instead, the Roosters are still at 95.9% to make the Top-8. With the players they have remaining and a handful still to return from injury, we can't entirely rule them out of playing deep into September.
New Zealand Warriors
Top 4: 1.5%
Top 8: 38.1%
Most Losses: 0.8%
The New Zealand Warriors have performed well enough to win four of their opening nine games and sit 8th on the ladder, but they have a long way to go before their chances of reaching the Top-8 hit 50%+.
While Reece Walsh is an exciting signing, he was exposed defensively in Round 9. Nathan Brown now faces the tough decision of developing him in reserve grade or crowbarring him into the first-grade side at the risk of teams targeting him.
The Kiwi club is caught between developing young talent for 2022 and beyond, or pushing for a place in the Top-8 in 2021. They can do both, but it won't be easy. How the team is travelling as they approach Adin Fonua-Blake's expected return in Round 19-20 might determine the path to end the year. He can add the punch in the middle that propels the Warriors into finals footy if they can keep within touching distance until then.
Top 4: 0.0%
Top 8: 2.5%
Most Losses: 20.2%
Wests Tigers chances of ending the longest finals drought in the NRL were already low heading into Round 1 (25.3%). Now, after losing seven of their first nine games, we can all but put a line through them ending the streak in 2021.
Their attack has let them down a lot already this season. Even in games they have scored 20+ points, a lot of the try-scoring actions haven't been repeatable the following week. However, it's the 29.1 points conceded per game that currently has the Tigers behind only the Bulldogs on the 'Most Losses' list.
We catch the odd glimpse of good football from the Tigers. Adam Doueihi, Luciano Leilua and Daine Laurie are all excellent individual talents. But consistently providing the trio with support on both sides of the ball is an issue unlikely to be fixed quickly enough to challenge for the Top 8.
Did you enjoy this article? Join our free mailing list to get the best content delivered straight to your inbox, or join the conversation by leaving a comment below or on the Stats Insider Twitter or Facebook page.