Stats Insider: Grand Final by the numbers
So here we are folks – one game left for all the marbles. While grand final week is hectic and full of functions, media interviews and the like, you can be sure both the Dragons and the Roosters will have some time set aside to check the stats and video and come up with a game plan to beat the other.
So what do the stats say? Do the numbers predict a winner? There is only one way to find out – let’s take a look.
St George Illawarra enters the grand final with an average for the season of 1405 metres gained on the ground per match. This is a significant stat in the game, especially considering the Roosters’ average is just 1315 metres a game. Field position is crucial in rugby league and while the Roosters can certainly score from anywhere on the park it is much easier to launch an attack from close to the opposition try line.
Luckily for the Roosters, the averages made by opposition teams is more even. The Dragons give up 1341 metres each game, the Roosters a little better at 1338 metres.
Top average metre-eaters for the Dragons are Darius Boyd (145m), Brett Morris (125m), Mark Gasnier (104m), Ben Creagh (103m) and Jason Nightingale (103m) while for the Roosters Sam Perrett (137m) leads the way with Shaun Kenny-Dowall (129m), Anthony Minichiello (120m), Nate Myles (103m), Kane Linnett (103m) and Jason Ryles (101m) all punching out triple-figure averages.
KICK METRES & ACCURACY
The Dragons lead the way in distance but the Roosters are more accurate when it comes to the all-important long kicking game. A good kicking game enables sides to dictate position on the field and if you can hit space it allows your chase to get down the field quicker and cut off the return metres.
The Roosters hit space 68.3 per cent of the time while the Dragons find the ground 54.9 per cent of the time. The Dragons kick for 653 metres each game, by far the best in the NRL, while the Roosters manage just 532 metres each game.
Jamie Soward is the main man for the Dragons, kicking an average 505 metres a game, with Nathan Fien adding 143 metres each week. The Roosters have a three-pronged attack; this certainly helps their accuracy. Mitchell Pearce averages 265 metres a game, Todd Carney 173 metres and Braith Anasta 105 metres.
St George Illawarra have scored 96 tries this season in 26 matches, or 3.69 a game, while the Roosters have 112 from 27 games, or 4.15 a game – giving the latter an attacking edge. As far as where these tries have been scored we have the following data:
The Dragons have 20 tries on the left sideline, 29 tries on the left edge, 23 tries up the middle, 10 tries on the right edge and 14 tries on the right sideline. This shows a distinct favouritism in going to the left side of the field, where Ben Creagh, Matt Cooper and Brett Morris reside.
For the Roosters we find they have 17 tries on the left sideline, 30 tries on the left edge, 22 up the middle, 27 on the right edge and 16 on the right sideline. This shows they have a fairly balanced attack but also how they love to attack the edges of the ruck on both sides of the field.
When we look at the distances tries are scored from we see the Dragons have 39 from 0-10 metres out, 23 from 11-20 metres, 21 from 21-50 metres and 13 from 51-plus metres – a fairly balanced effort.
The Roosters have 43 tries from 0-10 metres, 25 from 11-20 metres, 23 from 21-50 metres and 20 from 51-plus. This is also balanced but the tries from over halfway are the second most in the NRL.
The Dragons’ defence has conceded just 54 tries in 26 games, an average of just 2.08 a game. The Roosters on the other hand have let in 96 in 27 games, or 3.56 a game. Opposition to the Dragons have scored 13 tries on the left sideline, eight on the left edge, 14 up the middle, nine on the right edge and 10 on the right sideline. These are phenomenal numbers over a season and show little weakness – although going left means going at Jamie Soward.
Opposition to the Roosters have scored 15 tries on the left sideline, 26 tries on the left edge, 19 tries up the middle, 18 tries on the right edge and 18 tries on the sideline. It shows the Roosters’ right-side edge defence has had a few concerns (left-side attack goes at right-side defenders).
As for distance, the Dragons have conceded 28 tries from 0-10 metres, 14 from 11-20 metres, eight from 21-50 metres and just four from 51-plus metres. The Roosters will seemingly need to get close to the line to do damage.
The Roosters have conceded 43 tries from 0-10 metres, 18 from 11-20 metres, 23 from 21-50 metres (one of the NRL’s poorest figures) and 12 from 51-plus metres.
TRIES FROM OTHER AREAS
The Dragons have scored 13 tries from kicks this year and conceded just 10 to the boot; the Roosters have scored an impressive 23 tries from kicks, and let in 20.
As for attacking kicks being defused, the two teams rate as follows: Chip kicks – Dragons defuse 81 per cent, Roosters 85 per cent; Grubber kicks – Dragons 89 per cent, Roosters 75 per cent; Banana kicks – Dragons 75 per cent, Roosters 100 per cent; Bombs – Dragons 77 per cent, Roosters 77 per cent; Cross-field bombs – Dragons 50 per cent, Roosters 58 per cent; Mid-field bombs – Dragons 73 per cent, Roosters 73 per cent.
The Dragons have notched 10 tries from dummy-half, conceding just three, whereas the Roosters have scored just three from dummy-half but conceded an NRL-high 12. (Maybe Dean Young will have another crack this weekend?)
The Dragons have scored just two tries all year direct from a turn-over, while the Roosters have eight. But the Dragons have conceded just one try from a turn-over, the Roosters 10.
As for tries direct from an offload – the Dragons have seven, conceding five, and the Roosters have nine, conceding three.
St George Illawarra have 128 line-breaks this season and 46 half breaks. The Roosters have 144 line-breaks and 45 half breaks.
The Dragons conceded 84 line-breaks this season, the Roosters 111.
The Dragons have made seven busts from dummy-half, the Roosters four while the Red V have seven from kick returns, the Roosters nine.
Dragons players to watch are Brett Morris (23 line-breaks), Jason Nightingale (22), Matt Cooper (13) and Jamie Soward (11) while for the Roosters the top dangers are Todd Carney (21), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (20), Mitch Aubusson (15), Phil Graham (12), Anthony Minichiello (12) and Sam Perrett (12).
So there you have it – the big numbers give the Dragons a statistical edge but there are enough small areas where the Roosters reign to give them a real chance in a two-horse race.
If the Dragons’ defence can contain the Roosters’ attacking genius, they’ll grind out a win. But if the Roosters can get a jump-start, the Dragons will have to find some punch from somewhere. It sets up for one heck of a grand final!
Bring it on!