Stats Insider: Why penalties could decide premiers

A simple penalty shapes as being the difference in this year’s premiership after figures in the finals point out just how crucial every blow of the whistle has been. <br><br>During the opening six 2010 finals matches, a staggering 64 per cent of penalties have been turned into positive results, either as a repeat set or – even better – points scored. <br><br>In the first game of the finals between the Titans and the Warriors, every single one of the six penalties gave the recipient a positive result, while the lowest rate in any match was 45 per cent in the Week One Panthers-Raiders clash. <br><br>A mammoth 116 points in the finals have come in the sets of six after penalties, or directly from the penalty itself in the form of penalty goals – a clear sign the teams with the best discipline will give themselves the best chance of grand final glory. <br><br>In terms of just points scored, teams are getting a result on the scoreboard 49 per cent of the time, or just a smidgen under half of the time. <br><br>Examining the penalty counts of the remaining four sides in the competition we find the Dragons have conceded 129 from 25 games (5.16 average), the Titans 134 from 25 games (5.36) games, the Wests Tigers 143 from 26 games (5.5) and the Roosters 163 from 26 games (6.27). <br><br>As clashes get more intense, they tend to get closer – and one simple penalty could prove the difference between winning and losing. <br><br>Referees have already come under scrutiny this finals series with debate raging over several contentious penalties. While this is no different to most years, the resulting avalanche of points has heightened the pressure to get things right. <br><br>“A penalty could absolutely prove the difference, but I’m sure the refs understand the ramifications of it,” Warriors coach Ivan Cleary tells NRL.com.<br><br>“Traditionally in big games there aren’t many penalties, and this is probably why. Stats like this show just how much pressure the referees are under. <br><br>“The game has evolved to the point where penalties are more crucial than they may have been previously.”<br><br>Upset results saw Cleary’s side was outed in Week One of the finals, despite finishing fifth; while he doesn’t blame referees for his side’s demise, he was aware the Titans scored points off every penalty they received. <br><br>“In our game the penalties were obviously critical and I thought we had a few tough calls go against us,” the coach of the year nominee said. &nbsp;<br><br>“In finals games, the ones they give need to be absolutely certain, and I’m not sure the ones against us were. <br><br>“Look at the Tom Learoyd-Lahrs penalty in last week’s Raiders game [click here]… that was a tough one given the circumstances.<br><br>“But having said that, just because you give a penalty away doesn’t mean you are totally doomed. Part of the game is being able to defend in adversity.”<br><br>Cleary believes there needs to be more discussion on the benefits of penalties, calling for a revisit of Titans coach John Cartwright’s idea to do away with kicks for touch from penalties and instead reward a team with a tap from the spot. <br><br>“Every penalty is just about an attacking set, unless it’s in the corner off your line,” Cleary explains.<br>&nbsp;<br>“The game is professional now and when you get a penalty you are doing something you have been rehearsing for a long time. Everyone has a job, everyone is behind the ball in an attacking mindset, and it’s not like broken play. <br><br>“You are much more likely to attack better and it’s also much harder to defend.<br><br>“[There’s been talk] about maybe trying to change the rules so you don’t get to kick for touch with a penalty, which has some merit… but then the danger is teams will just give more penalties away. There is no easy solution.”<br><br>While referees have been striving for consistency for years, Cleary thinks the focus on black and white has made things potentially worse. <br><br>“The more scope we give the referees to use context the better,” he says. <br><br>“The angle of coaching has been to get black-and-white rulings but I don’t feel that’s the way to go. I think they need a better feel for the game. I think black-and-white rulings are frustrating.”<br><br><b>PENALTY ANALYSER</b><br><br><b>GAME 1 – Titans v Warriors</b><br><br>Penalty 1 – WARRIORS: Clinton Toopi (Titans) penalised for strip. RESULT: Repeat set from goal-line drop-out. Next set TRY to Aaron Heremaia; converted by James Maloney. 6 POINTS.<br><br>Penalty 2 – TITANS: Sam Rapira (Warriors) penalised for not square at marker. RESULT: TRY to William Zillman; converted by Scott Prince. 6 POINTS.<br><br>Penalty 3 – TITANS: Lance Hohaia (Warriors) penalised for second tackle. RESULT: Repeat set from goal-line drop-out. Next set TRY to Clinton Toopi; converted by Scott Prince. 6 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 4 – TITANS: Micheal Luck (Warriors) penalised for strip. RESULT: TRY to William Zillman; converted by Scott Prince. 6 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 5 – TITANS: Micheal Luck (Warriors) penalised for strip. RESULT: PENALTY GOAL Scott Prince. 2 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 6 – WARRIORS: Greg Bird (Titans) penalised for high tackle (and backchat). RESULT: Repeat set from goal-line drop-out. Next set turn-over. <br><br>TOTAL: Positive result = 6 from 6 (100 per cent); Points Scored = 5 from 6 (83 per cent); Total Points = 26<br><br><b>GAME 2 – Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters</b><br><br>Penalty 1 – ROOSTERS: Keith Galloway (Tigers) penalised for hold down. RESULT: Failed attacking kick at end of set. <br><br>Penalty 2 – ROOSTERS: Benji Marshall (Tigers) penalised for punching. A try disallowed. RESULT: Failed attacking kick at end of set.<br><br>Penalty 3 – ROOSTERS: Geoff Daniela (Tigers) penalised for high tackle. RESULT: Another penalty (positive result – see below). <br><br>Penalty 4 – ROOSTERS: Gareth Ellis (Tigers) penalised for high tackle. RESULT: PENALTY GOAL Todd Carney. 2 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 5 – TIGERS: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters) penalised for second effort. RESULT: Blake Ayshford held up/ball stolen, repeat set from goal-line drop-out. Next set TRY to Lote Tuqiri; converted by Benji Marshall. 6 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 6 – TIGERS: Martin Kennedy (Roosters) penalised for hold down. RESULT: Repeat set from goal-line drop-out. Next set TRY to Beau Ryan. 4 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 7 – TIGERS: Braith Anasta (Roosters) penalised for kick-off out on full. RESULT: Held up over line. Then knock-on over line. <br><br>TOTAL: Positive Result = 4 from 7 (57 per cent); Points Scored (direct or indirect) = 4 from 7 (57 per cent); Total Points = 12<br><b><br>GAME 3 – Panthers v Raiders</b><br><br>Penalty 1 – RAIDERS: Sandor Earl (Panthers) penalised for strip. RESULT: TRY to Terry Campese; converted by Jarrod Croker. 6 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 2 – PANTHERS: Shaun Fensom (Raiders) penalised for hold down. RESULT: TRY to Michael Gordon; converted by Michael Gordon. 6 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 3 – RAIDERS: Sam McKendry (Panthers) penalised for offside. RESULT: TRY to Dane Tilse; converted by Jarrod Croker. 6 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 4 – PANTHERS: Scott Logan (Raiders) penalised for offside. RESULT: TRY to Michael Gordon; converted by Michael Gordon. 6 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 5 – PANTHERS: Jo Picker (Raiders) penalised for attacking legs of kicker. RESULT: Turn-over from poor pass. <br><br>Penalty 6 – RAIDERS: Penrith penalised for offside. RESULT: Turn-over from attacking kick.<br><br>Penalty 7 – RAIDERS: Matthew Bell (Panthers) penalised for not square at marker. RESULT: TRY to Bronson Harrison; converted by Jarrod Croker. 6 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 8 – PANTHERS: Trevor Thurling (Raiders) penalised for offside. RESULT: Turn-over from attacking kick.<br><br>Penalty 9 – RAIDERS: Trent Waterhouse (Panthers) penalised for second effort. RESULT: Knock-on from tap.<br><br>Penalty 10 – RAIDERS: Luke Lewis (Panthers) penalised for hold down. RESULT: Try disallowed for obstruction. <br><br>Penalty 11 – PANTHERS: Shaun Fensom (Raiders) penalised for obstruction. RESULT: Turn-over after attacking kick. <br><br>TOTAL: Positive Result = 5 from 11 (45 per cent); Points Scored = 5 from 11 (45 per cent); Total Points = 30<br><br><b>GAME 4 – Dragons v Sea Eagles</b><br><br>Penalty 1 – DRAGONS: Manly penalised for illegal kick-off. RESULT: Into touch trying to score. <br><br>Penalty 2 – SEA EAGLES: Michael Weyman (Dragons) penalised for stealing ball. RESULT: Repeat set from attacking kick. Next set knock-on.<br><br>Penalty 3 – DRAGONS: Chris Bailey (Sea Eagles) penalised for hand on ball. RESULT: TRY to Ben Hornby; converted by Jamie Soward. 6 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 4 – SEA EAGLES: Neville Costigan (Dragons) penalised for hand on ball. RESULT: Repeat set from attacking kick. Next set another repeat set from attacking kick. Next set turn-over from attacking kick.<br><br>Penalty 5 – DRAGONS: Jamie Buhrer (Sea Eagles) penalised for hold down. RESULT: Repeat set from goal-line drop-out. Next set knock-on. <br><br>Penalty 6 – SEA EAGLES: Beau Scott (Dragons) penalised for interference in play-the-ball. RESULT: Ball into touch.<br><br>Penalty 7 – DRAGONS: Jamie Buhrer (Sea Eagles) penalised for hold down. RESULT: Repeat set from goal-line drop-out. Next set another penalty (positive result - see below). PENALTY GOAL Jamie Soward. 2 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 8 – DRAGONS: Trent Hodkinson (Sea Eagles) penalised for stealing ball. RESULT: PENALTY GOAL Jamie Soward. 2 POINTS <br><br>Penalty 9 – SEA EAGLES: Jason Nightingale (Dragons) penalised for continuing tackle. RESULT: Another penalty (see below). Next set knock-on. <br><br>Penalty 10 – SEA EAGLES: Matt Prior (Dragons) penalised for hand on ball. RESULT: Knock-on, turn-over.<br><br>Penalty 11 – DRAGONS: Matt Ballin (Sea Eagles) penalised for flop. RESULT: PENALTY GOAL Jamie Soward. 2 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 12 – DRAGONS: Matt Ballin (Sea Eagles) penalised for late high shot on kicker. RESULT: PENALTY GOAL Jamie Soward. 2 POINTS. <br><br>Penalty 13 – DRAGONS: Jamie Buhrer (Sea Eagles) penalised for hold down. RESULT:&nbsp; Held up/ball stolen over line, repeat set from goal-line drop-out. Next set another penalty (positive result – see below). <br><br>Penalty 14 – DRAGONS: Chris Bailey (Sea Eagles) penalised for hold down. RESULT: PENALTY GOAL Jamie Soward. 2 POINTS<br><br>TOTAL: Positive Result = 11 from 14 (79 per cent); Points Scored (direct or indirect) = 7 from 14 (50 per cent); Total Points = 14<br><br><b>GAME 5 – Raiders v Wests Tigers</b><br><br>Penalty 1 – TIGERS: David Shillington (Raiders) penalised for high tackle. RESULT: Ball into touch at end of set.<br><br>Penalty 2 – TIGERS: Reece Robinson (Raiders) penalised for stealing the ball. RESULT: Knock-on attempting to score. <br><br>Penalty 3 – RAIDERS: Chris Heighington (Tigers) penalised for offside. RESULT: Another penalty (positive result – see below). <br><br>Penalty 4 – RAIDERS: Keith Galloway (Tigers) penalised for attacking kicker. RESULT: TRY to Bronson Harrison; conversion by Jarrod Croker. 6 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 5 – RAIDERS: Simon Dwyer (Tigers) penalised for holding down. RESULT: TRY to Joel Monaghan; conversion by Jarrod Croker. 6 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 6 – RAIDERS: Gareth Ellis (Tigers) penalised for stealing the ball. RESULT: 90-metre gain but turn-over on kick.<br><br>Penalty 7 – TIGERS: Terry Campese (Raiders) penalised for hold down. RESULT: Into touch at end of set. <br><br>Penalty 8 – RAIDERS: Wests Tigers penalised for offside. RESULT: Repeat set from goal-line drop-out. Next set half-time.<br><br>Penalty 9 – TIGERS: Scott Logan (Raiders) penalised for high shot. RESULT: Repeat set from attacking kick. Next set TRY to Chris Lawrence; conversion by Benji Marshall. 6 POINTS.<br><br>Penalty 10 – TIGERS: Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Raiders) penalised for hold down. RESULT: PENALTY GOAL Benji Marshall. 2 POINTS.<br><br>Penalty 11 – RAIDERS: Simon Dwyer (Tigers) penalised for high shot. RESULT: Repeat set from missed penalty goal. Next set turn-over.<br><br>TOTALS: Positive Results = 7 from 11 (64 per cent); Points Scored (direct or indirect) = 5 from 11 (45 per cent); Total Points = 20<br><br><b>GAME 6 – Roosters v Panthers</b><br><br>Penalty 1 – PANTHERS: Mitchell Aubusson (Roosters) penalised for lying in the ruck. RESULT: Knock-on early next set.<br><br>Penalty 2 – PANTHERS: Roosters offside. RESULT: Knock-on at end of set.<br><br>Penalty 3 – ROOSTERS: Luke Lewis (Panthers) penalised for markers not square. RESULT: Knock-on end of set<br><br>Penalty 4 – PANTHERS: Mitchell Pearce (Roosters) penalised for holding down. RESULT: Repeat set from goal-line drop-out. Next set knock-on. <br><br>Penalty 5 – ROOSTERS: Wade Graham (Panthers) penalised for holding down. RESULT: Turn-over, forward pass.<br><br>Penalty 6 – PANTHERS: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters) penalised for high tackle. RESULT: Ball into touch at end of set. <br><br>Penalty 7 – ROOSTERS: Luke Walsh (Panthers) penalised for leg pull. RESULT: Another penalty (positive result – see below). <br><br>Penalty 8 – ROOSTERS: Petero Civoniceva (Panthers) penalised for flop, RESULT: PENALTY GOAL Todd Carney. 2 POINTS.<br><br>Penalty 9 – ROOSTERS: Wade Graham (Panthers) penalised in play-the-ball. RESULT: Repeat set from Penrith touch. Next set held up. Next set knock-on. <br><br>Penalty 10 – PANTHERS: Roosters penalised for offside. RESULT: Taken into touch early. <br><br>Penalty 11 – ROOSTERS: Panthers penalised for offside. RESULT: TRY to Anthony Minichiello; conversion by Todd Carney. 6 POINTS<br><br>Penalty 12 – ROOSTERS: Panthers penalised for illegal kick-off. RESULT: TRY to Todd Carney; conversion by Todd Carney. 6 POINTS<br><br>TOTALS: Positive Results = 6 from 12 (50 per cent); Points Scored (direct or indirect) = 4 from 12 (33 per cent); Total Points = 14