Are Ben Barba and the Bulldogs really out on their own as the long-range try-scoring kings of the NRL? Which team is best from close range? And on the flip side, who can’t seem to communicate in defence on their goal line?
Last week we delved into what time in matches your team is at their best – and also their worst – when it came to scoring tries; this week we look at the region of the field where the tries originate.
For clear evaluation NRL statisticians break try-scoring distance into four sections: 0-10 metres, 11-20 metres, 21-50 metres and 51+ metres. Logging where tries are scored and conceded gives irrefutable evidence of any given team’s strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s start with the long-range tries, the ones that get us on our feet screaming for more – like Adam Reynold’s miracle try for the bunnies on Monday night…
TRIES SCORED 51+ METRES
Well, no surprises here: the Bulldogs lead the way. Can you remember a season where so many awesome long-range tries have been scored or set up by one guy? The Bulldogs have scored 12 tries from over halfway, thanks mainly to Ben Barba’s brilliant kick returns. Teams playing the Bulldogs had better not go to sleep on their kick chase… and they’d better be ready for attack from anywhere or chances are they will get burned. Don’t be surprised if more teams start deliberately kicking the ball dead against the Doggies as we head deep into September. A little surprisingly the Raiders are next on the list just a try behind with 11, with the Storm and Sea Eagles also impressive at 10 tries each. In a huge surprise the Wests Tigers, known as an attacking side, have just one long-range effort this season to be ranked last! The Sharks are also struggling with just two.
1. Bulldogs 12; 2. Raiders 11; =3. Sea Eagles 10; =3. Storm 10; =5. Knights 7; =5. Cowboys 7; =5. Eels 7; =5. Titans 7; =5. Roosters 7; =10. Warriors 5; =10. Dragons 5; =10. Rabbitohs 5; =13. Broncos 3; =13. Panthers 3; 15. Sharks 2; 16. Wests Tigers 1.
TRIES CONCEDED 51+ METRES
Everyone still has Souths’ last-minute, length-of-the-field try on their minds – but it’s not scoring long-range tries where the Rabbitohs excel, it’s stopping them. The bunnies are equal best in the NRL with the Cowboys, having leaked just two tries from over halfway all season. The Sharks rank third, letting in just three. Maybe Roosters fans should have seen the whirlwind finish coming… they are ranked 14th in the NRL, having now conceded 12 long-range efforts. Only the struggling Panthers (13) and Eels (15) are worse.
=1. Cowboys 2; =1. Rabbitohs 2; 3. Sharks 3; =4. Raiders 4; =4. Bulldogs 4; =4. Dragons 4; =7. Titans 5; =7. Sea Eagles 5; =7. Storm 5; 10. Knights 6; =11. Wests Tigers 7; =11. Broncos 7; 13. Warriors 8; 14. Roosters 12; 15. Panthers 13; 16. Eels 15.
TRIES SCORED 21-50 METRES
Really nailing down their reputation as the entertainers in 2012, the Bulldogs also lead the mid-range try-scoring category. The Canterbury boys are seriously potent within this range, with 23 tries scored. Josh Morris out wide is killing it and of course there’s Barba… but all of the blue-and-white boys deserve credit. The Wests Tigers make up for their lack of tries from over halfway with 20 from here to be ranked second in the NRL, while the Cowboys and Warriors rank third with 15. It wasn’t so long ago we all remember the Dragons perfecting the long, sweeping backline shift for tries… not anymore. The Red V are struggling down in 14th with just eight tries here. But the Knights are the real disappointments. Obviously Wayne Bennett hasn’t been able to weave his magic… his side having just five tries from mid-range to be ranked last.
1. Bulldogs 23; 2. Wests Tigers 20; =3. Cowboys 15; =3. Warriors 15; 5. Storm 14; 6. Sea Eagles 13; =7. Sharks 12; =7. Rabbitohs 12; =9. Raiders 11; =9. Titans 11; =11. Roosters 10; =11. Panthers 10; 13. Broncos 9; 14. Dragons 8; 15. Eels 6; 16. Knights 5.
TRIES CONCEDED 21-50 METRES
It’s not good enough for Canterbury to only lead the league in scoring mid-range tries; their dogged attitude sees them equal first in stopping them, too. Des Hasler can rabbit on all he likes about being under the radar and not the benchmark – the Bulldogs are the real deal and they will have failed if they don’t go deep into the semi-finals. They lead the way here with another serious contender, the Storm, having conceded just seven tries in the 17 games. The Raiders are a surprise third place here with just eight tries conceded – although they have massive issues from closer range, as you’ll see below. It is this distance where the Roosters have let a chance at a good season slip, ranked last having let in 19 tries. If the Warriors are to make a run they need to lift here also, ranked equal 13th.
=1. Storm 7; =1. Bulldogs 7; 3. Raiders 8; 4. Wests Tigers 9; =5. Broncos 10; =5. Cowboys 10; =5. Dragons 10; 8. Knights 12; =9. Sharks 13; =9. Sea Eagles 13; =9. Rabbitohs 13; 12. Titans 14; =13. Warriors 16; =13. Panthers 16; 15. Eels 17; 16. Roosters 19.
TRIES SCORED 11-20 METRES
In this area of the field we find Wayne Bennett’s shift plays are actually working, as the Knights lead the way with 17 tries, just a try ahead of the Rabbitohs who sit at 16. For the bunnies the likes of Greg Inglis and Dave Taylor on the fringes become almost impossible to halt when they get up a head of steam up here. The Sharks, Sea Eagles, Dragons and Titans need to lift here as they look to contend.
1. Knights 17; 2. Rabbitohs 16; =3. Panthers 14; =3. Broncos 14; =3. Storm 14; =6. Warriors 13; =6. Bulldogs 13; =8. Raiders 11; =8. Wests Tigers 11; =8. Cowboys 11; 11. Sharks 10; =12. Sea Eagles 8; =12. Dragons 8; 14. Roosters 7; =15. Titans 6; =15. Eels 6.
TRIES CONCEDED 11-20 METRES
Cronulla have been amazing defensively in this area, having conceded just five tries all year. It is a big reason why they are doing so well and should return to the finals for the first time in four years. Those ‘under-the-radar’ Bulldogs are next, having surrendered just eight tries, with the Storm and Knights not far behind. There is a big concern for the Broncos here: they rank last in the NRL with 16 tries conceded and may need to find a way to improve (although they really step it up on their goal line).
1. Sharks 5; 2. Bulldogs 8; =3. Storm 9; =3. Knights 9; 5. Cowboys 10; =6. Sea Eagles 11; =6. Rabbitohs 11; =6. Warriors 11; =9. Wests Tigers 12; =9. Titans 12; =9. Panthers 12; =9. Dragons 12; 13. Roosters 13; =14. Raiders 14; =14. Eels 14; 16. Broncos 16.
TRIES SCORED 0-10 METRES
Here we are at the goal line: the easiest place to score… and the hardest place to stop tries. But who is the best? Attack-wise Brisbane lead the NRL here with an impressive 42 close-range tries, putting them four tries clear of the Storm and Warriors who share second. This yells at opposition teams: “Keep the Broncos away from the goal line!” Also of great interest in these numbers is that the Bulldogs rank 14th in the NRL… maybe it’s because they don’t need to score as many tries from close, as they have already crossed from distance – but still, it should give opposition confidence. If teams can fire up defensively on Barba and co. then maybe the ’Dogs might struggle to score points. The Dragons are big strugglers here too.
1. Broncos 42; =2. Storm 38; =2. Warriors 38; 4. Cowboys 37; 5. Rabbitohs 33; 6. Raiders 32; 7. Wests Tigers 31; 8. Roosters 30; =9. Sharks 29; =9. Titans 29; =9. Sea Eagles 29; =12. Knights 26; =12. Eels 26; 14. Bulldogs 24; 15. Dragons 23; 16. Panthers 22.
TRIES CONCEDED 0-10 METRES
Brisbane also lead here defensively, which is a good thing given their last-placed ranking from 11-20 metres. The Broncos have conceded just 20 tries within this close range so communication doesn’t seem to be an issue for them. If they continue to repel close waves of attack they may well find themselves playing on the last weekend of the season. The Bulldogs, Sea Eagles and Dragons share second place – for the former two teams it’s a big part of their success… for the Dragons it is perhaps the only thing keeping them in the finals hunt. For those wondering why the Raiders have struggled in 2012 look no further than the mammoth 51 tries conceded on their goal line. Quite simply the desire to defend the line is seriously lacking from the Green Machine. Basically, their numbers are embarrassing. The Wests Tigers and Rabbitohs will also need to improve significantly in this area if they are to be semi-final winners. It is one thing to make the big games, but quite another to be able to step up and perform in them.
1. Broncos 20; =2. Bulldogs 24; =2. Sea Eagles 24; =2. Dragons 24; 5. Storm 26; 6. Titans 28; 7. Panthers 29; =8. Sharks 30; =8. Knights 30; 10. Warriors 31; =11. Cowboys 32; =11. Roosters 32; =11. Wests Tigers 32; =14. Eels 38; =14. Rabbitohs 38; 16. Raiders 51.
• Follow me on twitter: NRLstatsinsider