NRL Second Quarter Grades – Part 2

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Now that all teams have played at least half of their games in the 2013 regular season, I will now complete my grades for the second quarter of the season. As seen in the 2012 season, the amount of points scored in the second quarter is higher than the total scored during the first quarter. The second quarter average for points scored was 20.1, up from the first quarter average of 18.4. However, this average was below last year’s second quarter average of 21.3.

Also, the standard deviation of the points conceded is higher than for points scored for the second quarter (34.6 and 29.1 respectively). Just like last quarter, this means that the defensive ability of each team is more variable. This would suggest that they key to victory in the NRL over this quarter is the ability to defend. This trend has been the case for the previous three quarters, with the last quarter to have a higher standard deviation for points scored as opposed to points conceded was the third quarter in 2012.

A

Sydney Roosters: 5-1 (1st quarter: B, 4-2)

The Roosters have consolidated their place as one of the premiership heavyweights over the past 6 games. The only defeat in this period was a somewhat unlucky loss at home to defending premiers Melbourne. In attack, the Roosters have scored 24.7 points per game over the last 6 games which is an improvement on the first quarter. In defence, the Roosters have only conceded 13 points per game. This is lower than last quarter’s average of 11 per game but is less than half of the 2012 average of 26.1. As a result of this good form, James Maloney was rewarded with a New South Wales jersey, while Mitchell Pearce and Michael Jennings retained their places in the team. The Roosters are currently without starting front rowers Waerea-Hargreaves and Moa, who are out due to suspension and injury respectively. They are proving that they have the depth to cover these injuries. At home, the Roosters won two games from three in the second quarter, to be 5-2 for the season (and matching their 2012 home win total in the process). They won all three games away from in their past 6 games, to be 4-1 in 2013 so far. This is more than the 3 wins and 1 draw for the entire 2012 campaign.

In the next 6 games, the Roosters have 3 home games and 3 away games. The tough home games are against Manly and Cronulla, while the notable away game is the clash against Canterbury in Round 15.

Next 6 games: vs Warriors (Sun, 6:30pm), at Canterbury (Fri, 7:45pm), vs Manly (Mon, 7pm), at St George Illawarra (Sat, 5:30pm), vs Cronulla (Sat, 7:30pm), at Newcastle (Sun, 3pm).

B

Penrith: 4-2 (1st quarter: F, 1-5)

The surprise packets of the NRL over the past month have been the Panthers. After the first 6 games, they were predicted by many to finish with the wooden spoon. However, a three game winning streak put Penrith back into the top 8, but are now back out following a very disappointing loss to the Tigers. Penrith have significantly improved their attack, as they have scored 26.8 points per game, compared to 16.3 in last quarter. This did include a score of 62 which was scored against the Warriors. They have also conceded far fewer points in this quarter too, with 13 per game which includes a shut-out in Round 11 against the Dragons. The first quarter average was 24.7 per game. This turnaround in form is partly due to new inclusions Matt Moylan (who is now currently banned due to salary cap restrictions), Travis Robinson and Issac John. Penrith have also had their fair share of injuries, with some players out for extended periods, most notably Sam McKendry. Penrith have started to bring back some fans to their home ground as a result of some strong home form. In the second quarter, the Panthers won 3 games from 4, including a 62-6 victory over the Warriors and a win over premiership heavyweights Melbourne. Away from home, Penrith won a game and lost a game since Round 7.

Over the next 6 games, the Panthers have two games at home and four away from home. The notable home game is against Newcastle in what could be a very important clash in relation to the top 8. The tougher away games are to fellow top 8 contenders Canberra, Gold Coast and Cronulla.

Next 6 games: at Canberra (Sat, 5:30pm), vs St George Illawarra (Sat, 7:30pm), at Gold Coast (Sat, 7pm), at Parramatta (Sat, 7:30pm), vs Newcastle (Sun, 2pm), at Cronulla (Sun, 2pm).

Cronulla: 4-2 (1st quarter: C, 2-4)

The Sharks put together a four-game winning streak in the second quarter, but this was book ended by two very disappointing losses. The first was a game that they should won against Canterbury and the other was a flogging at the hands of Melbourne. This has the Sharks sitting in the top 8 but with plenty of sides snapping at their heels. Cronulla has started to find their groove in attack, as they showed improvement statistically in that area in the second quarter. They scored 18.2 points per game over the past 6 games, compared to 14.7 in rounds 1 to 6. In defence, the Sharks have not been as strong as they were in the first 6 rounds as they have conceded 20 points per game in the second quarter, compared to 15.2 in the first quarter. This includes conceding 38 points in Round 13 at Melbourne. The Sharks look like they can contend with the premiership heavyweights, but that loss in Melbourne exposed some flaws. It was during the second quarter in 2012 when Cronulla fell from the top 4 to their eventual 7th placed finish. Over their last 6 games, Cronulla won 2 from 3 both at home and away from home. The two wins at home were particularly impressive, as they came against a red-hot Canberra side and premiership-leading South Sydney.

From now until Round 20, Cronulla has 3 home games and 3 away games. The toughest game in this stretch will be in Round 19 when they visit the Roosters.

Next 6 games: vs Parramatta (Sat, 7:30pm), at North Queensland (Sun, 6:30pm), vs Wests (Fri, 7:35pm), at Brisbane (Fri, 7:45pm), at Roosters (Sat, 7:30pm), vs Penrith (Sun, 2pm).

Melbourne: 3-2-1 (1st quarter: A, 6-0)

For Melbourne, this was a down quarter. However, most teams would consider a quarter like this to be a good quarter. Over the past couple of weeks, the Storm has bounced back as their last couple of wins were quite impressive. Their attack declined statistically from the first quarter to the second, as they scored 22 points per game, compared to 26.5 over the first 6 rounds. Melbourne’s defence over the last 6 rounds has had similar results to the first 6 rounds. They conceded 14.7 points per game in the second quarter, compared to 14.3 in the first. Obviously, the challenge for the Storm is to win games with the big three absent for some of the games and a lot of the preparation for games. Their results over the next 6 games will determine how high they will finish. Over the last 6 games, Melbourne won 2 games and drew another from 4 home games. Away from home, they won 1 out of 2 games in the second quarter. For the season, Melbourne has 5 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss at home and 4 wins and a loss away from home.

The schedule for Melbourne is not as difficult in the coming 6 games, when compared to the last 6 games. This will assist them through the Origin period. Of these 6 games, 4 are away from home and 2 are at home. The toughest games will be in Rounds 15 and 18 as they play away games against the Gold Coast and Canterbury respectively.

Next 6 games: vs Newcastle (Sun, 3pm), at Gold Coast (Mon, 7pm), at Wests (Sat, 5:30pm), vs Brisbane (Fri, 7:35pm), at Canterbury (Sun, 3pm), at Warriors (Sun, 2pm).

Canberra: 3-3 (1st quarter: C, 3-3)

While the Raiders had the same record in the second quarter as they did in the first, I gave them a B grade as their draw was far more difficult in the second quarter than the first. They also have played much better football and have shown that they can match it with the competition’s best, most notably seen in the Round 8 win in Melbourne. They have significantly improved statistically, as in attack they scored 23.3 points per game in the past 6 games, compared to 16 in the first 6 games. In defence, the Raiders conceded 21.3 points per game in the second quarter, which is less than the 25.2 per game in the first quarter. The big story for the Raiders recently is the return of Terry Campese, who is improving with every game that he plays. His leadership is proving to be quite valuable for the Raiders. Also, Blake Ferguson showed a dramatic increase in form over the past 6 games and was rewarded with his first New South Wales jersey as a result. Canberra are the only team yet to lose a game at home in 2013 (5-0), as they won both games at home in the second quarter. Away from home, Canberra only won 1 game from 4 in their past 6 games. They are now 1-6 away from home for the season.

In the next 6 games, the Raiders have 3 home games and 3 away games. In this stretch, they only play one game that is currently in the top 8 (Souths in Round 16). This is a good opportunity for the Raiders to solidify a spot in the top 8.

Next 6 games: vs Penrith (Sat, 5:30pm), at Wests (Sat, 7:30pm), at Souths (Fri, 7:45pm), vs North Queensland (Sun, 2pm), vs Parramatta (Sat, 5:30pm), at St George Illawarra (Sat, 5:30pm).

C

Manly: 2-3-1 (1st quarter: A, 5-1)

The second quarter was always going to be a challenging period for Manly and the past 5 games have shown that they are currently not at the level of the other sides in the top 4. In order to maintain their place in the top 4, they will need an improvement in form soon. Both in attack and defence, Manly’s statistics were worse in the second quarter than in the first. Over the past 6 games, they scored just 13.7 points per game and conceded 15.3 points per game. This is compared to scoring 23.2 and conceding 9 in the first quarter per game, respectively. The biggest reason for the fall in the attacking statistics is the injury to Brett Stewart. They are also lacking some depth in the front row with injuries to Jason King and Joe Galavao (who has since announced his retirement), as well as a suspension to Richie Fa’aoso. Over the past 6 games, Manly only won 1 of 3 home games. However, these two losses were to other top 4 teams Souths and the Roosters. Away from home, the Sea Eagles won a game, drew a game and lost a game. In total for 2013, they are 4-2 at home and have 3 wins, 2 losses and a draw away from home.

Over the next 6 games, Manly play three games at home and three away from home. Two of the home games are against fellow top 8 teams Canterbury and Gold Coast. They do play one away game against a fellow top 8 side, in Round 16 when they play the Roosters.

Next 6 games: vs Canterbury (Fri, 7:35pm), at Roosters (Mon, 7pm), vs Parramatta (Mon, 7pm), at North Queensland (Mon, 7pm), vs Gold Coast (Sun, 3pm), at Wests (Mon, 7pm).

D

Wests Tigers: 2-4 (1st quarter: D, 2-4)

From Rounds 7 to 10, the Tigers were abysmal. As mentioned below, they conceded big scores and their attack is not what it once was. However, over their last 2 games the Tigers have won a couple of ugly games. Statistically, Wests were poor in the second quarter as they only scored 12 points per game and conceded 30.3 points per game. This is worse than the first quarter, where they scored 15.5 and conceded 23.8 points per game respectively. Injuries have cruelled the Tigers in 2013, as plenty of certain starters have been sitting on the sideline, most notably Keith Galloway, Chris Lawrence and Blake Ayshford. One focal point for Wests this season has been the form of Benji Marshall. He has had a poor season by his standards, but over the past few weeks, he is starting to find some form. Marshall is a long way off the Golden Boot winning form of 2010 but he is on the right track. Over the past 6 weeks, the Tigers won 1 game from 3 both at home and away from home. For the season, Wests are 3-3 at home and 1-5 away from home.

In the next 6 games, Wests have 4 home games and 2 away games. Of the 4 home games, 3 are against top 8 sides, of which 2 are against top 4 teams (Canberra, Melbourne, Manly). Of the 2 away games, one is against a top 8 team (Cronulla) in Round 17.

Next 6 games: at Brisbane (Mon, 7pm), vs Canberra (Sat, 7:30pm), vs Melbourne (Sat, 5:30pm), at Cronulla (Fri, 7:35pm), vs Warriors (Fri, 7:45pm), vs Manly (Mon, 7pm).

F

Parramatta: 1-5 (1st quarter: D, 2-4)

If there’s one way to sum up Parramatta’s season it would be this: new coach, same performance. The Eels are at the foot of the ladder and don’t look like climbing it anytime soon. Coach Ricky Stuart has announced that there will be a lot of player turnover following the season, so it appears that for the rest of this season, some players are playing for their careers. Statistically, the Eels have dropped off in terms of attack and defence in the second quarter. Parramatta scored 13.5 points per game in their last 6 games, compared to 18.2 in the first 6 games. They conceded 31.3 points per game in the second quarter, compared to 24.2 in the first. The immediate concern for the Eels is to try to win a game without star fullback Jarryd Hayne. On current form, I can’t see this happening. In the last 6 games, the Eels won 1 from 4 away from home and were winless in their 2 away games. For the season, their home record is 3-4 and their away record is 0-5. They are the only team in the NRL that is yet to win a game away from home this season.

Over the next 6 games, Parramatta plays 2 games at home and 4 games away from home. This makes the task of winning a game more difficult, as the three games they have won in 2013 have all been at Parramatta Stadium. All of the away games are against sides in the top 8, while one home game is against table-topping South Sydney. Parramatta will certainly need to improve if they are to win a game in this period.

Next 6 games: at Cronulla (Sat, 7:30pm), vs Souths (Sun, 3pm), at Manly (Mon, 7pm), vs Penrith (Sat, 7:30pm), at Canberra (Sat, 5:30pm), at Canterbury (Fri, 7:35pm).

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