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Stats Insider: Completion ratings

The saying goes that “possession is nine tenths of the law” – but to any rugby league coach and his team battling their way in the increasingly competitive Telstra Premiership, possession means everything.

Playing with the football for long periods in games and making sure no tackles are wasted through mistakes or bad playmaking decisions is crucial in the modern game. And a look at the statistics from the first four rounds of the 2013 competition confirms it.

However, our analysis also reveals that some teams are under-performing based on the huge amount of possession they have had – while others are punching well above their weight.

For example, incredibly, premiers Melbourne – who sit atop the NRL ladder – are ranked 10th for completing their sets, doing so just 71.5 per cent of the time. And the third-on-the-ladder Sea Eagles are even worse, ranked 11th with a 70.25 per cent completion rate. 

In somewhat of a surprise it is the struggling Brisbane team that heads all-comers – they’re the only squad to average 80 per cent through the first four weeks of 2013.

The Knights are next best with 79.5 per cent, closely followed by a team that’s tasted victory just once, the Bulldogs, with 79 per cent.

The only other team that’s undefeated through Round 4, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, round out our completions top four with a 76.25 per cent rate.

The Dragons’ 74.75 per cent completions rate (for fifth overall) indicates the players are doing everything in their power to give their strike weapons chances to score. Clearly they could be big improvers if they maintain or improve their discipline with the ball and their attack starts to click. 

The two other big surprises are the disappointing completion rates of the Sharks and Cowboys. Cronulla, with two victories under their belt for seventh position on the NRL ladder, have been praised for their form over the past month – but how much better off would they be had they not stumbled to a 68 per cent completion rate that sees them second from bottom of all teams?

Which brings us to the Cowboys: you don’t have to look any further than their miserable 67.75 per cent completions rate to understand why they’ve spluttered to three consecutive defeats since their 24-12 win over the Bulldogs. Clearly it’s an area of focus for coach Neil Henry. 

Looking beyond the average completion rates of sides and running an eye over the breakdown of their completions from first half to second half, and game to game, is revealing.

For example, Brisbane appear to settle into a groove – good or average – every time they take the field. As the breakdown below shows, very little separates their completions from the first 40 minutes to the second 40 minutes.

The Gold Coast Titans are easily the league’s most consistent – they have had a total fluctuation of just two per cent from their past six halves of football!

Other findings include: the Knights are the only side that have improved their completions from the first 40 minutes in every game so far; all three losses from the Bulldogs came after dramatic drop-offs in their second-half completions; the Roosters are unpredictable, with fluctuations of 17 per cent (twice) and 10 per cent in three of their games.

The Sharks are extremely inconsistent – they have fluctuated by a total of 70 per cent in their eight halves of football. The Cowboys are worse – fluctuating 71 per cent in total to date! 

But by far the most inconsistent side when it comes to completions are the Parramatta Eels who have fluctuated by a massive 82 per cent over their four halves in 2013. Clearly that’s something for Ricky Stuart to look at over the coming weeks.

Finally, here’s the most-compelling statistic: premiers Melbourne are the only team that have improved their completions percentage week to week. Craig Bellamy is the master of management and if their progress with the ball in hand is anything to go by, their opponents over the coming weeks should be quaking in their boots. 

2013 Completions (including 1st & 2nd half)

Brisbane Broncos
Round 1 – 68% (81-50) – lost 22-14 to Manly
Round 2 – 94% (93-95) – won 22-6 defeating Dragons
Round 3 – 77% (76-78) – lost 8-0 to Roosters
Round 4 – 81% (79-83) – lost 32-26 to Storm
Completing at: 80% (Ranked 1)

Newcastle Knights 
Round 1 – 85% (85-85) – won 42-10 defeating Wests Tigers
Round 2 – 69% (65-72) – lost 32-0 to Manly
Round 3 – 77% (67-86) – won 34-6 defeating Cowboys
Round 4 – 87% (80-91) – won 28-12 defeating Raiders
Completing at: 79.5% (Ranked 2)

Canterbury Bulldogs
Round 1 – 78% (76-79) – lost 24-12 to Cowboys
Round 2 – 71% (79-63) – won 20-16 defeating Eels
Round 3 – 80% (81-79) – lost 22-18 to Storm
Round 4 – 87% (95-76) – lost 17-12 to Souths
Completing at: 79% (Ranked 3)

South Sydney Rabbitohs
Round 1 – 84% (75-94) – won 28-10 defeating Roosters
Round 2 – 66% (67-65) – won 14-12 defeating Sharks
Round 3 – 71% (80-63) – won 44-32 defeating Panthers
Round 4 – 84% (83-84) – won 17-12 defeating Bulldogs
Completing at: 76.25% (Ranked 4)

St George Illawarra Dragons
Round 1 – 79% (82-75) – lost 30-10 to Storm
Round 2 – 80% (80-80) – lost 22-6 to Broncos
Round 3 – 65% (69-60) – lost 30-17 to Raiders
Round 4 – 75% (84-65) – won 25-12 defeating Sharks
Completing at: 74.75% (Ranked 5)

Sydney Roosters 
Round 1 – 60% (50-67) – lost 28-10 to Souths
Round 2 – 78% (80-75) – won 16-14 defeating Warriors
Round 3 – 74% (70-80) – won 8-0 defeating Broncos
Round 4 – 86% (95-78) – won 50-0 defeating Eels
Completing at: 74.5% (Ranked =6)

Gold Coast Titans 
Round 1 – 73% (63-82) – lost 12-10 to Sharks
Round 2 – 67% (67-67) – won 36-0 defeating Raiders
Round 3 – 81% (81-81) – won 16-14 defeating Manly
Round 4 – 77% (76-78) – won 28-10 defeating Panthers
Completing at: 74.5% (Ranked =6)

Wests Tigers
Round 1 – 67% (77-57) – lost 42-10 to Knights 
Round 2 – 68% (65-70) – won 28-18 defeating Panthers
Round 3 – 88% (88-88) – won 31-18 defeating Eels
Round 4 – 68% (70-65) – lost 26-0 to Manly
Completing at: 72.75% (Ranked 8)

Penrith Panthers
Round 1 – 83% (75-90) – won 32-10 defeating Raiders
Round 2 – 68% (61-74) – lost 28-18 to Wests Tigers
Round 3 – 72% (83-65) – lost 44-32 to Souths
Round 4 – 67% (67-67) – lost 28-10 to Titans
Completing at: 72.5% (Ranked 9)

Melbourne Storm
Round 1 – 64% (67-61) – won 30-10 defeating Dragons
Round 2 – 69% (67-72) – won 32-10 defeating Cowboys
Round 3 – 76% (82-69) – won 22-18 defeating Bulldogs
Round 4 – 77% (81-71) – won 32-26 defeating Broncos
Completing at: 71.5% (Ranked 10)

Manly Sea Eagles
Round 1 – 79% (85-82) – won 22-14 defeating Broncos
Round 2 – 76% (74-78) – won 32-0 defeating Knights
Round 3 – 64% (67-60) – lost 16-14 to Titans
Round 4 – 62% (42-78) – won 26-0 defeating Wests Tigers
Completing at: 70.25% (Ranked 11)

Parramatta Eels
Round 1 – 68% (61-76) – won 40-10 defeating Warriors
Round 2 – 76% (88-67) – lost 20-16 to Bulldogs
Round 3 – 69% (58-74) – lost 31-18 to Wests Tigers
Round 4 – 67% (80-50) – lost 50-0 to Roosters
Completing at: 70% (Ranked 12)

Warriors
Round 1 – 69% (73-64) – lost 40-10 to Eels
Round 2 – 72% (67-78) – lost 16-14 to Roosters
Round 3 – 63% (64-63) – lost 28-4 to Sharks
Round 4 – 74% (73-75) – won 20-18 defeating Cowboys
Completing at: 69.5% (Ranked 13)

Canberra Raiders
Round 1 – 68% (56-81) – lost 32-10 to Panthers
Round 2 – 61% (53-65) – lost 36-0 to Titans
Round 3 – 80% (75-87) – won 30-17 defeating Dragons
Round 4 – 68% (68-67) – lost 28-12 to Knights
Completing at: 69.25% (Ranked 14)

Cronulla Sharks 
Round 1 – 75% (70-82) – won 12-10 defeating Titans
Round 2 – 60% (45-75) – lost 14-12 to Souths
Round 3 – 68% (79-56) – won 28-14 defeating Warriors
Round 4 – 69% (72-67) – lost 25-12 to Dragons
Completing at: 68% (Ranked 15)

North Queensland Cowboys 
Round 1 – 69% (76-63) – won 24-12 defeating Bulldogs
Round 2 – 70% (83-58) – lost 32-10 to Storm
Round 3 – 67% (61-72) – lost 34-6 to Knights
Round 4 – 65% (75-53) – lost 20-18 to Warriors
Completing at: 67.75% (Ranked 16)


*Statistics: NRL Stats
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