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When the Sydney Roosters signed a then 20 year old Brett Finch in the winter of 2002, they were not just signing a talented halfback to play inside their star five-eighth Brad Fittler; they were investing in the future of their playmaking corps. Now into his third season as a Rooster, Finch is well and truly the present with Fittler?s retirement at the end of 2004. Last Friday night against the Bulldogs, Brett Finch showed why the Roosters brain trust made the right decision in placing their eggs in his basket. In a game the Roosters had no right to win after 20 minutes when they were 16-0 down, the involvement of their now lone ?go-to-guy? was the decisive factor in their eventual come from behind 29-16 victory. Not only did he set up three of the Roosters five tries, but Finch was consistently touching the ball and organising his troops in and around the ruck, while his kicking game was outstanding. But words sometimes can appear biased, clich?d, overstated, unfair or they can simply underestimate a performance on the football field.
NSC decided to take the words out and let Finch?s statistics do the talking by collecting the data manually for this NSC Player Case Study.
Basic Stats Minutes Played: 80 Tries: 0 Tackles: 23 Missed Tackles: 0 Line Breaks: 1 Runs: 3 Dummy Half Runs: 0 Metres Gained: 25 Errors: 2 Penalties Conceded: 1
The above statistics generally do not give a good indication of the performance of players who are in playmaking and organisational positions. Below are extended playmaking statistics aimed at sorting through the data and breaking down their importance.
Expanded Playmaking Stats: Try Assists: 3 - Inside Ball to Anthony Tupou into gap which led directly to a try - Short Pass to Anthony Minichiello into gap which led directly to a try - Cross Kick to setup Joel Monaghan which led directly to a try Line Break Assists: 3 - Inside Ball to Anthony Tupou into gap which led directly to a try - Short Pass to Anthony Minichiello into gap which led directly to a try - Inside Ball to Chris Flannery into gap Kicks in Play: 17 (6 1st Half/11 2nd Half) - Long Kicks: 9 (5/4) ? 5 in Space/1 into Touch/3 Caught - Grubber Kicks: 2 (0/2) ? 2 Defused/0 for Repeat Sets/0 for Try - Chip Kicks: 0 - Bombs: 3 (0/3) ? 2 Defused/1 Repeat Set/0 for Try - Cross Kicks: 1 (0/1) ? 0 Defused/0 for Repeat Sets/1 for Try - Field Goal Kicks: 2 (0/2) ? 1 Successful/1 Unsuccessful for Repeat Set Passes: 38 (16 1st Half/23 2nd Half) ? Regulation: 26 (10/16) ? Short: 3 (1/2) ? 1 for Line Break Assist/1 for Try Assist ? Inside: 6 (4/2) ? 2 for Line Break Assist/1 for Try Assist ? Cut Out: 3 (0/3)
Broken down in Rugby Union Fly-Half style, Finch?s involvement level was as such:
38 Passes, 17 Kicks, 3 Runs
Thus he was involved in 58 ?plays? that is he passed, kicked or ran the ball in a total of 58 passages of play. If you assume each hit up and kick for his side are ?plays?, then Finch was involved in just over 30% of every play the Roosters had with the ball.
But at the end of the day statistics can appear to tell you many things without actually proving anything. Henry Clay, a US congressman in the 1800s once said, ?Statistics are no substitute for judgment?, but perhaps judgment matched with relevant statistics gives a greater indication of performance.
On a night where the Roosters turned around a three match losing streak with a gutsy if controversy shrouded victory, the performance of Brett Finch should not go unnoticed. He stepped up his game after a few average weeks and the Roosters not surprisingly won, with Fittler retired there is no more important player on the Sydney roster. A case study such as this shows how vital a significant statistical involvement level from your number one playmaker can be to winning on any given week.
NSC collated these statistics and they are not officially sanctioned by the NRL or the official provider to the NRL, they are however accurate to the standards NSC believes are required to accurately document performance on the field.