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The free-flowing football of the 2020 NRL season is not having the side-effect of blowing out score lines substantially from the previous season.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley has analysed the numbers from the 120 games played so far.

In fact only 4% of matches – which translates to five games – had far larger winning margins in 2020 compared with 2019.

Annesley said that for games won by between 7-12 points and between 13-18 points, they were exactly the same number this season as last.

"There's been a fair bit of discussion over the past few weeks about margins and blow-outs," he said.

"To the casual observer it would seem we're seeing a significant increase in matches with high-winning margins this year.

"There certainly are some increases but it needs to be put into perspective."

Where there has been a sizeable jump is in the 31-point or more wins. In the 2019 season, 7% of games finished that way while in 2020 it's 11%.

But in 19-24 points wins, there was a 4% drop to even that out, Annesley said.

Rule changes like the six-again have sped up the game considerably, and lead to greater player fatigue where the fitter sides can run over the top of teams and generate large scores.

There was also the increased stress of same-day travel on players – having to spend long hours in planes and buses to get to destinations and then turn around and go back home.  

Graham Annesley weekly football briefing - Round 15

However, the statistics are showing there are minimal differences to winning margins from the non-COVID pandemic era.

"It’s only five games out of 120, so when we look at it each week as we watch games being played we probably have the perception that the five games is a much larger number," Annesley said.

"When you line it up against last year, the difference is not significant. Yes it's larger but not significantly larger."

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