The Halftime Spray - Round 19

With just seven weeks until the NRL Finals commence, everyone's focus is firmly on the premiership ladder and whether their team will make the cut.

At the end of Round 19, there is just three wins separating 2nd and 13th on the ladder. Every year it seems the competition is getting tighter and tighter. This is clearly a good advertisement to the benefits of a properly functioning and policed salary cap.

But it highlights another issue. The NRL's policy for determining which sides make the top 8 if there are 2 or more teams outside the top 8, tied on competition points with a team inside the top 8.

The first method used is sensible: points difference between points scored and points conceded.

If the teams are still tied, the second method is a convoluted and pointless equation that proves that the team with the best defence will be ranked higher.

If this method doesn't separate the sides, then the side with the most tries scored, then most goals kicked, then most field goals kicked.

If by some chance the teams are still tied, and this is the really amateur part, the toss of a coin will decide.

Oddly enough, there's no protocol to deal with the issue of the coin landing on its side.

So it's with these facts that I decided to break the system based on the current NRL ladder and predicting the outcome of the remaining games.

With only 10 of the 56 predicted score lines relying on the winning side scoring 40 points or more, it's not too unrealistic.

The Final ladder ended up with just 2 wins separating first and last, with 10 teams tied for fourth.

Brisbane were minor premiers with 30 points and a points difference of 126. Melbourne were second with 30 points and a points difference of 12. Wests Tigers were third on 30 points and with a points difference of -9.

Manly, Gold Coast, Sydney, Newcastle, St.George-Illawarra, Souths, North Queensland, Penrith, Canterbury and the Warriors were all tied at 4th on 28 points, with 450 points for and 450 points against.

Canberra, Cronulla and Parramatta rounded out the table on 26 points.

This example is quite extreme clearly, but it raises the question. If a coin toss decides who makes the finals and who misses out, how do they decide which teams square off in the coin toss in this situation?

Or do they just play heads or tails, where a delegate from each tied club has to choose if the coin toss will be a head or a tail by putting their hands on their hand, or their bottom, with the process continuing until enough sides have been eliminated?

That comment could almost be considered sarcastic if it weren't so frighteningly close to a possibility.

There's a lot of merit to play-offs to determine which teams make the finals and it is the only fair way to determine which side is better.

A coin toss to determine a sides season is disgraceful.

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