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Bad boys, bad boys… what you gonna do? In the wake of the biggest judicial week of the season your friendly Stats Insider has decided to pinpoint the sides and players with the biggest discipline problems in the NRL this season.

Which teams give up the most penalties? And what are they for? And which players are the main culprits?

Will this ill-discipline be the difference between a finals berth and an early end-of-year trip? Could it be the deciding factor in the grand final?

Is Michael Ennis a ‘pest’ to the referees?  Is Paul Gallen still a bad guy, or has he cleaned up his act?

All is about to be revealed…

The worst team when it comes to conceding penalties is the Sydney Roosters, who have heard the shrill of the whistle 120 times this season, or precisely 6.67 times a game. They are closely followed by the new competition leaders, the Bulldogs, whose 119 conceded penalties must be of some concern to Des Hasler as the finals approach. Only two other clubs have given away triple figures in penalties – the struggling Panthers at 114 and the reigning champion Sea Eagles at 101 for the year.

The cleanskins of the NRL are the Sharks, who have conceded just 80 penalties to earn the title as the competition’s goody two-shoes. Melbourne are next best at 88, showing a clear advantage to the Sharks. While it’s not the biggest factor in their impressive season thus far, it has certainly helped the Shire boys push for a finals berth.

2012 Penalties Conceded
1. Sharks 80; 2. Storm 88;  =3. Cowboys, Rabbitohs, Warriors 89; =6. Broncos, Knights 90; =8. Titans, Dragons 94; 10. Raiders 96; 11. Eels 97; 12. Wests Tigers 99; 13. Sea Eagles 101; 14. Panthers 114; 15. Bulldogs 119; 16. Roosters 120.

So now we know where your club stands on total penalties; but do they have a specific area of ill-discipline? Are they ‘head hunters’? Floppers? Perennial offsiders?

Hold-down Penalties
The most-penalised activity in the NRL this season is holding down in the ruck. It is where players try to get that extra second for their team. Nine of the 16 teams average more than one hold-down penalty a match this year, with the worst offenders being the high-flying Rabbitohs. They have been pinged 22 times this year for holding down. Is ex-Storm assistant Michael Maguire pushing the importance of the wrestle? The Raiders, Panthers, Sea Eagles and Roosters are just a penalty behind with 21 conceded, while the most disciplined team in this area is the Sharks who almost unfathomably have conceded just five hold-down penalties all season. It’s somewhat of an anomaly, as the next best is 13.

Offside Penalties
Offside penalties are the next most-common penalty to give away, and here we find the Panthers and Bulldogs hold sway with 23 each. One could argue the Panthers are penalised so often because they are struggling to get back the 10 metres, whereas the Bulldogs are an aggressive defensive side and are pushing the envelope by jumping out of the blocks. It will be a fine balance for the competition favourites in the finals, as they try to be brutish without conceding penalties. While they were gilt-edged hold-down merchants, the Rabbitohs have a way of making it back to the referee, leading this category with just five offside penalties this season, another incredible stat.

High Shots
Obviously no team sets out to tackle others around the head but still it happens from time to time – and the worst offenders in 2012 have been the premiers. The Sea Eagles have been hammered 16 times for high tackles this year, the most in the NRL, while Inglis’s hit on Dean Young helped the Rabbitohs to second most with 13. The Raiders tackle nice and low and lead the NRL with just four high-tackle penalties.

Here are the best and worst in other categories:

Dangerous Throw
Best: Sharks, Cowboys – 0
Worst: Raiders, Eels, Wests Tigers – 4

Dragged When Tackled
Best: Broncos, Raiders, Bulldogs, Sea Eagles, Storm, Cowboys, Eels – 0
Worst: Sharks – 3

Hand In Play-the-ball
Best: Cowboys, Dragons – 4
Worst: Bulldogs – 14

Holding Back
Best: Roosters, Warriors – 0
Worst: Bulldogs – 5

Late Tackle
Best: Raiders, Bulldogs, Storm – 0
Worst: Cowboys – 6

Markers Not Square
Best: Broncos, Titans, Storm – 3
Worst: Eels – 10

Mid-air Tackle
Best: Bulldogs, Titans, Warriors, Wests Tigers – 0
Worst: Broncos – 3

Stealing The Ball
Best: Sea Eagles, Panthers – 3
Worst: Wests Tigers – 12

Best: Storm, Roosters – 0
Worst: Raiders, Cowboys – 4

Leg Pulls
Best: Roosters – 0
Worst: Storm – 6

Second Effort
Best: Wests Tigers – 2
Worst: Panthers – 12

Lying In Ruck Area
Best: Sea Eagles – 0
Worst: Roosters – 7

Finally, it is time to oust the individuals who earn the ire of the referees most often. It wasn’t that long ago that Paul Gallen was the referees’ worst enemy – but surely this can’t be the case, with the Sharks being absolute cleanskins. In what is proof of an enormous change to his reputation, the Sharks’ skipper has conceded just two penalties this year! He is nowhere near the top 10 bad boys. So who are they? Let the countdown begin…

=9. Mick Crocker (Rabbitohs), Simon Mannering (Warriors), Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles) 13 penalties

Crocker has four high-tackle penalties to his name; Mannering spreads it across the page with ill-discipline in 10 different areas, while Watmough likes to hold down defenders and take a sneaky look at the ref to know when to get up… it just hasn’t always worked.

=6. Alex Glenn (Broncos), Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), Chris Houston (Knights) 14 penalties

Glenn, the Broncos’ and Kiwi utility, is mostly hammered by the whistle-blowers in the ruck where he has conceded three hand-on-ball penalties and another three for holding down; Blair’s biggest issue is ball stealing; while Houston is a hold-down man and a guy often caught offside.

=4. Shaun Fensom (Raiders) & Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Roosters) 15 penalties

It appears the Green Machine tackle machine Fensom likes to hold on to his prey a little long, having been pinged eight times for holding down, whereas the firebrand JW-H is mostly in trouble for high shots, having conceded five penalties in this area with another for a dangerous throw to go with them.

3.    Jake Friend (Roosters) 16 penalties

Offside play is a big issue for the Roosters rake, having given up five penalties for being inside the 10 metres. He also has conceded four more for a second effort in defence.

2.    Michael Ennis (Bulldogs) 18 penalties

Ennis the Menace has continued his love/hate affair with the referees this year, with the majority of his penalties coming for being offside. But he spreads his issues across 12 categories, showing he can push the envelope anywhere.

And the ‘winner’ is…

1.    Travis Burns (Panthers) 20 penalties

The man in the judiciary hot seat after his chicken wing and high-tackle issues against the Roosters is indeed the worst offender in the NRL this season. He has tallied five hold-downs and three hand-on-the-ball penalties, but just two high-tackle penalties and one dangerous throw.

So look out boys – and teams – Stats Insider is handing over all of his findings to the boys in the middle…

•    Do you have penalty questions for Stats Insider? Hit me up on twitter @nrlstatsinsider and I’ll do my best to help you out.

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