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Roosters fullback James Tedesco.

If high completion rates truly reflected success, the Bulldogs should have been title contenders this year.

Canterbury boasted an 80% completion rate, equal-first in the NRL with minor premiers Melbourne and marginally ahead of grand finalists Canberra (79.1%)

Yet the Dogs finished 13th and looked on track for the wooden spoon at the midway mark of the year despite minimising their errors.

Melbourne and Canberra were the only finalists to finish in the top half of the comp for completion rates at the end of the regular season. 

Back-to-back premiers the Roosters had the worst-third completion rate (75%) and still scored a season-high 108 tries.

An NRL Stats analysis indicates that a team's effective completion rate in "yardage" possession – sets that start within 40 metres of the attacking team's own tryline – is a better performance barometer.

For this stat, a yardage set was deemed "effective" if at the end of the set:

  • The ball was kicked and the opposition's first tackle was inside their 20 metres, or the ball went into touch inside their 20 metres;
  • A try or field goal was scored or there was a try-scoring opportunity;
  • A penalty or scrum was won; or
  • The tackle count was reset.

In this category, five of the 2019 finalists finished inside the top half of the competition, led by Melbourne (59.8%), Canberra (59.3%) and Cronulla (58.7%).

South Sydney (58.3%) and Parramatta (56.2%) also made the cut, with Wests Tigers (58.5%), North Queensland (57.3%) and Penrith (56.2%) being the only bottom eight sides.

The overall top-four average for effective yardage sets was 59%.

Interestingly, the Roosters (55%) ranked 13th for effective yardage completions, however they proved lethal from within their own 40 metres by scoring 45 tries.

Canterbury, who had the equal-best overall completion rate, finished last for effective yardage completions with 51.2%.