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The NRL season is approaching two notable times in the season. The State of Origin period, where a select few teams will be depleted of their most irreplaceable players, and the halfway point of the year. But is there anything we can learn from statistics alone when it comes to determining who will make the finals this year?
Probably not. But it won't stop me from giving it a red hot go!
I have done a few comparisons between the last 10 seasons and the differences between table placings after Round 9 and at the end of the season.
This alone can give us a bit of an idea who may reach the finals already.
Some key points:
At this stage, you're thinking, this is all quite predictable. But this is where things get silly.
It's been widely accepted that 12 wins will guarantee a side a shot at the finals, but twice in the last decade, teams have made the finals with 11 wins. With the ladder a bit topsy-turvey at the moment, there is potential for the mid-table to become quite congested come the pointy end of the season.
So based on percentages of the past decade anyway, we can say that the finalists for 2014 will be Canterbury, Manly, Gold Coast, Sydney Roosters, Souths, Penrith, Brisbane and St.George-Illawarra.
The favourites for the wooden spoon is a bit more tricky, given that there have been 16 teams for 7 of the last 10 years.
The team sitting last after 9 rounds has gone on to win 5 wooden spoons. Or if you are a Cronulla fan, the team sitting 15th after 9 rounds has won more spoons than any other side, with 4.
Can we determine who will win the premiership? Of course not, but let's have a crack anyway!
So of our statistically most probable top 8, Brisbane will not win the premiership
So, it seems the Grand Final will be between Canterbury and one of either Manly or the Roosters.