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NRL Telstra Premiership 2009

Stats Insider: Can a winning streak ruin a title dream?

Benjamin Everill NRL.com Thu, Jul 21, 2011 - 10:30 AM

The Melbourne Storm are on a hot streak and are on track for the minor premiership, but do they need a loss for the sake of their title chances? Copyright: NRL Photos

Craig Bellamy hates losing. Hates it with a passion. Might even hate losing to Brisbane more than anyone else, even though Wayne Bennett has moved on.

His side is in spectacular form – seven wins in a row and the 2011 minor premiership theirs to win or lose over the last seven games, something they really want to replace their stripped titles.

They need just four more to equal the club record for consecutive wins – but, as ridiculous as it may sound, do the Storm need a loss for the greater good?

Momentum. It’s the buzzword as we head into the ‘Glory Bound Rounds’. Every side is desperate to find some heading into the finals, so they can ride the wave all the way, leaving them dancing a jig on the premiers’ podium at ANZ Stadium.

Fans love a good winning streak and hate the losing ones… but the latter give us great water cooler material.  

We’ve watched the Dragons (winning nine games) and the Raiders (losing eight) set new club streaks this year and now the Storm are pushing to add to their records.

But the best winning streaks to a premiership since mandatory grand finals in 1954 has been 11 wins in a row – for the Storm to continue without a loss they’d tally 17, smashing almost 60 years of history!

Would the pressure of such a streak be too much for the side? In the salary cap era, long streaks are extremely difficult to maintain – every game every week is tough and with each mounting win comes mounting media and mounting pressure.

The 1972 Manly side and the 1955 South Sydney team each won 11 straight games including their grand final triumph – a magnificent achievement.

Four sides have won nine in a row to lift the trophy – the 2002 Roosters, 1992 Broncos, 1989 Raiders and 1959 St George side.

Last season St George Illawarra won their last five games to take the title after admitting they got their momentum run wrong the year before. The Dragons had won seven in a row during the middle/late period of 2009, right up to Round 23 before losing three in row. They rebounded to get the minor premiership with a last-round win but were then bounced out of the finals in straight sets.

Are Melbourne in a similar situation and peaking too early? A loss to the Broncos tomorrow night would still leave them equal first with Manly – and would present them with the chance to start a new run.

If they leave it any later to ‘take one for the team’ – say in back-to-back weeks against the Dragons and Manly in Rounds 24-25 – will their confidence take a battering without enough time to recover?

Teams can of course lose in the finals and still win a premiership; 14 teams since 1954 are in the record books winning only the week before and the actual grand final – a streak of just two.

But 40 premiers have gone through the finals without losing… which side do you want to be on?

Mathematically most of this is silly. If you toss a coin 20 times and heads comes up each time, it is still 50:50 the next toss will be tails. Plenty of us like to think ‘tails’ must be due for the Storm soon.

But the psychology of sport has always been a factor, despite the numbers. Pressure makes humans do silly things – in rugby league this translates to ‘panic’ football and poor execution.

How often do we see underdogs around the sports world overcome those on a run when the pressure really mounts? Remember the 2001 Parramatta Eels: they waltzed into the grand final on the back of 10 straight wins, only to lose to Newcastle.

Check out the junior grand finals in your local area – there is always at least one team that has dominated for most of a season, yet falls when they just need one more win.

But back to the NRL, and one team always comes in to the finals hot… who is this year’s candidate?

Do you think the Storm can continue their run? Are you expecting to see a team start a move now? The next seven rounds are called the ‘Glory Bound Rounds’ for a reason: who do you expect to be flying in September?

Play around with the scenarios on our ladder predictor

Streaks to a Premiership*
11: Manly (1972), South Sydney (1955).
9: Roosters (2002), Brisbane (1992), Canberra (1989), St George (1959).
8: Melbourne^ (2007).
7: Penrith (2003), Brisbane (Super League 1997), Canterbury (1980), South Sydney (1970), St George (1964), St George (1960).
6: Manly (2008), Canterbury (1995), Canterbury (1984), St George (1979), St George (1961).
5: St George Illawarra (2010), Melbourne^ (2009), Newcastle (2001), Manly (1996), South Sydney (1971), South Sydney (1967), St George (1957).
4: Wests Tigers (2005), Brisbane (1993), Penrith (1991), St George (1966), St George (1956).
3: Brisbane (2006), Canterbury (2004), Brisbane (2000), Melbourne (1999), Brisbane (1998), Canterbury (1988), Manly (1987), Parramatta (1986), Parramatta (1981), Manly (1973), St George (1965), St George (1962).
2: Newcastle (1997), Canberra (1994), Canberra (1990), Canterbury (1985), Parramatta (1983), Parramatta (1982), Manly (1976), Roosters (1975), Roosters (1974), Balmain (1969), South Sydney (1968), St George (1963), St George (1958), South Sydney (1954).
1: Manly (1978 – 2 wins leading into drawn grand final), St George (1977 – 10 wins leading into drawn grand final).

* Since mandatory grand finals
^ Denotes premiership withdrawn

CLUB RECORD STREAKS

Brisbane
Longest Winning Streak: 12 (Round 14, 1997 - Round 5, 1998).
Longest Losing Streaks: 8 (Round 20, 2003 - McIntyre 1, 2003) & (Round 22, 2005 - Round 1, 2006).

Canberra
Longest Winning Streaks: 11 (Round 18, 1989 - Round 2, 1990) & (Preliminary Final, 1994 - Round 9, 1995).
Longest Losing Streaks: 8 (Round 21, 1985 - Round 3, 1986) & (Round 2, 2011 - Round 9, 2011).

Canterbury
Longest Winning Streak: 17 (Round 3, 2002 - Round 21, 2002).
Longest Losing Streaks: 11 (Round 11, 1955 - Round 3, 1956) & (Round 10, 1965 - Round 3, 1966).

Cronulla
Longest Winning Streaks: 11 (Round 19, 1977 - Round 7, 1978) & (Round 13, 2002 - Round 24, 2002).
Longest Losing Streak: 13 (Round 16, 2009 - Round 3, 2010).

Gold Coast Titans
Longest Winning Streaks: 5 (Round 3, 2008 - Round 7, 2008) & (Round 20, 2010 - Round 24, 2010).
Longest Losing Streak: 5 (Round 16, 2007 - Round 20, 2007).

Manly
Longest Winning Streak: 15 (Round 1, 1995 - Round 15, 1995).
Longest Losing Streaks: 8 (Round 7, 1950 - Round 14, 1950) & (Top 10 Minor Preliminary, 1998 - Round 7, 1999).

Melbourne
Longest Winning Streak: 11 (Round 12, 2006 - Round 23, 2006).
Longest Losing Streak: 6 (Round 7, 2002 - Round 13, 2002).

Newcastle
Longest Winning Streak: 11 (Round 25, 2001 - Round 6, 2002).
Longest Losing Streak: 13 (Round 1, 2005 - Round 15, 2005).

North Queensland
Longest Winning Streak: 7 (Round 21, 2007 - Finals Week 2, 2007).
Longest Losing Streak: 13 (Round 7, 2008 - Round 21, 2008).

Parramatta
Longest Winning Streaks: 12 (Round 3, 1964 - Round 14, 1964) & (Round 3, 1977 - Round 14, 1977).
Longest Losing Streak: 19 (Round 10, 1959 - Round 10, 1960).

Penrith
Longest Winning Streak: 8 (Round 6, 2003 - Round 13, 2003).
Longest Losing Streaks: 12 (Round 5, 1972 - Round 16, 1972) & (Round 10, 1980 - Round 21, 1980).

South Sydney
Longest Winning Streak: 16 (Round 6, 1908 - Round 9, 1909).
Longest Losing Streak: 22 (Round 8, 1945 - Round 1, 1947).

St George Illawarra
Longest Winning Streak: 9 (Round 3, 2011 - Round 12, 2011).
Longest Losing Streaks: 5 (McIntyre 1, 2004 - Round 4, 2005) & (Round 19, 2006 - Round 23, 2006) & (Round 2, 2007 - Round 7, 2007).

Sydney Roosters
Longest Winning Streak: 19 (Round 4, 1975 - Round 22, 1975).
Longest Losing Streak: 25 (Round 14, 1965 - Round 2, 1967).

Warriors
Longest Winning Streak: 8 (Round 7, 2002 - Round 14, 2002).
Longest Losing Streaks: 7 (Round 7, 1997 - Round 13, 1997) & (Round 17, 2000 - Round 23, 2000) & (Round 20, 2004 - Round 1, 2005).

Wests Tigers
Longest Winning Streak: 8 (Round 16, 2005 - Round 24, 2005).
Longest Losing Streaks: 6 (Round 8, 2002 - Round 14, 2002) & (Round 5, 2003 - Round 11, 2003).