Through just three rounds in 2012, close to 80 per cent of teams that have been the first to put two tries together have gone on to win the match.
And before you laugh at the sample size, I have also gone through all 201 matches from last season and the trend remains true – 78 per cent of the time that a team scored consecutive times before their opponents, they went on to win the game!
The NRL is a frenetic competition and when you are the first team to get some momentum it can be very hard to stop.
So next time you are at a game and your side is the first to score two tries in a row, feel free to get a little cocky – there’s just a one-in-five chance you’ll be leaving the ground disappointed. It could be the opening two tries… it might be tries either side of halftime… or it might be two late tries if the teams have gone tit-for-tat prior.
But when it happens, don’t be afraid to cheer a little louder.
On 149 occasions in season 2011, the side that was first to go back-to-back grabbed the competition points. On 41 occasions the side that fell behind did manage to claw back to win. (On 11 occasions neither side was able to go back-to-back – so for the purpose of this study, they’ve been omitted.)
Brisbane and Melbourne were absolutely brilliant on the occasions they were the first to score consecutive tries in 2011. The Broncos did so 17 times during the year and won every single one of those games. And the Storm were first to grab momentum on 16 occasions, and similarly won every time.
The Rabbitohs also had a 100 per cent strike rate when going back-to-back first – but sadly for them, they were only able to do so on seven occasions throughout the year.
The only side in 2011 that failed to turn more of these opportunities into losses than wins was Parramatta – they were five from 12.
So far in 2012, four of seven games in Round 1 stayed true to the trend (one failed to have back-to-back scorers) – but then seven of eight games in both Rounds 2 and 3 have reinforced the stats.
And guess what… Melbourne and Brisbane are still perfect!
The two times Brisbane have gained early momentum, they have won.
Manly (2 from 2), Canterbury (2 from 2), North Queensland (2 from 2), Gold Coast (1 from 1), Newcastle (1 from 1) and the Dragons (1 from 1) also have turned being the first team to add double-trouble momentum into competition points.
And sorry Parra fans… you seem to be the heading for the exception again, as the only team to be on the wrong end again (0 from 1).
“It’s all to do with momentum. If you hold momentum for two tries’ worth, obviously your team gets a lot of confidence from that and the other team loses it,” St George Illawarra halfback and captain Ben Hornby tells NRL.com.
“When you hold momentum it is very hard to turn around.
“It’s about building pressure. Once you do that and score a couple of tries, if you maintain ball control from there it makes it very hard for the other team to get field position and get back in the game.”
Hornby says the psychological aspects of going back to back are also critical during an 80-minute tussle.
“The idea and the feeling that you are starting to get on top is very powerful,” he says.
“When you feel like you have hold of the game, you play well, and if you are on the other side of it you know you have to usually score three times just to get back in the game.
“At any stage in any NRL game, that is really hard to do and you can lose focus. You have to do your best to put it out of your mind… but that is very difficult.”
So keep an eye on this weekend’s matches to see if the back-to-back success story rings true.