Stat Attack: Finals swing on set completions
We all know completions rates aren't the be-all and end-all in rugby league but they do become more important in big games and tight games and they certainly told a story in a thrilling opening weekend of the 2018 Telstra Premiership finals series.
NRL.com Stats reveals:
- The two teams with the worst completion rate were the two teams eliminated from the finals.
- Seven of the eight teams completed at a higher rate than they did in round 25.
- All four games were won by the team with the better completion rate.
In both of the top-four clashes the vanquished team – Souths and Cronulla – will be left to rue some handling errors that proved critical in tight losses.
For the Sharks it was missed chances in attack that cruelled them the most, while for Souths, errors in their own end just gave the Storm a tiny bit too much of a sniff as they finished over the top at the end.
Obviously completions aren't everything. Just look at the Warriors last year, who made the second-fewest errors all season but finished 13th. Or the Roosters, who finished in the top two both last year and this year while producing the most errors in the league in both seasons.
In part this is because an overly-conservative style of play produces low errors but also few points, while an adventurous or attacking style of play can challenge opposition more while also producing more errors.
But in big end-of-season contests which can swing on a single moment, starving your opponent of the ball is crucial and the four teams that did it the best last week emerged victorious.