With the finals fast approaching, speculation and opinions run rampant over who will be this seasons champion. With the assistance and complete reliance upon statistics and history, I have determined how the finals series will unfold.
Obviously, the regular season has not been completed, so I decided that the highest ranking team on the premiership ladder, as it stands now, will win all their games. The current point differential (difference between points scored and points conceeded) will be used. Surprisingly the ladder didn’t change at all over the last four rounds.
Therefore, we move onto the finals. All statistical and historical data used and quoted is based on the last 10 NRL Premiership series (1999-2008).
St.George-Illawarra v Manly
The Dragons have won 5 out of 7 games played in the first week of the finals, while Manly have just 2 wins from 4 games. However Manly have never won a week 1 match when placed lower than second on the ladder. The #1 side has won 9 of 10 games played in week 1. Dragons by 20.
Bulldogs v Wests Tigers
Wests Tigers have 1 win from 1 game in week 1 while the Bulldogs have a disappointing 2 wins from 6 games. The #2 ranked side has won 6 of the 10 week 1 games between the two, however #2 has won the last 4. The Bulldogs have 6 wins from 15 games in finals football. The Tigers have 4 wins from 4 games. Tigers by 3.
Gold Coast v Cowboys.
Gold Coast will become the third team to make their finals debut in the last 10 years. The past two teams had the most contrasting performances. The Warriors in 2001 were eliminated in week 1. The Wests Tigers of 2005 went through the finals undefeated to claim their maiden Premiership. The Cowboys have 2 wins from 3 games in week 1. Those 2 wins came when they were positioned lower than fourth. The #3 and #6 ranked sides have both won 5 games each in week 1. Titans by 2.
Melbourne v Penrith.
Melbourne have won 5 of 8 games in week 1, Penrith have 2 wins from 3 games. The #4 ranked side has won 6 of the 10 games against #5 in week 1, but have lost the last 4 games. Melbourne has 13 wins in 21 finals appearances. Penrith has 4 wins from 7 games. Melbourne by 10
Melbourne V Bulldogs
Both Melbourne and the Bulldogs have 2 wins from 5 games in week 2. The more telling statistic though is that the #2 ranked side has 2 wins from 4 appearances in week 2, while #4 has just 3 wins from 9 games. Bulldogs by 6.
Wests Tigers v Penrith
Both teams have only made 1 appearance in week 2. The Tigers have a win and the Panthers have a loss. The #5 sides have 4 wins from 9 games and the #7 ranked sides have 2 wins and 2 losses in week 2. Wests Tigers by 1.
Dragons v Bulldogs
Dragons and Bulldogs both have 1 win from 3 games in week 3. The #1 ranked sides have 8 wins and 2 losses in week 3 while #2 has a slightly less impressive 5 wins and 3 losses. Dragons by 4.
Wests Tigers v Gold Coast
Tigers have won their only appearance in week 3. The telling positional statistic indicates that #3 has had a miserly 3 wins from 8 games in week 3, but #7 has 2 appearances with no victory. Gold Coast by 8.
Dragons v Gold Coast
Over the past 10 seasons, the #1 and #3 ranked sides have both picked up 3 premierships each, more than any other positions. Two of the titles by the #3 side have been against the Minor Premiers. More telling is that the #1 ranked side has lost five deciders, whereas #3 has never lost.
Wayne Bennett has not lost a Grand Final since 1987 (his only loss). He has 3 premierships in the last 11 seasons.
The last team to make it’s finals debut and reach the Grand Final was the victorious Wests Tigers outfit from 2005. The Best and Fairest player that day was Scott Prince, the current Titans halfback and captain.
Who will win?