2014 NRL Second Trimester Report Part 1 and World Cup Semi Final Review

Will the real contenders please stand up?

Well I learnt my lesson from last time. It is impossible to thump out a Trimester Report in one blog (especially with the World Cup finishing up and the Tour de France starting). If I was really smart I would have split this into three weeks, but didn’t want to divide 16 by 3 which isn’t nearly symmetrical enough for my liking, so there you have it. BTW we are going to lock comments, ladder position and stats after round 17 for both parts of the Second Trimester Report for the sake of consistency. On to the rankings. We’re going to run them in reverse order.

Sharks

Ladder Position

Pre-season Prediction – 12th

After First Trimester – 16th

After Second Trimester – 16th

Points after First Trimester – 4

Points after Second Trimester – 12 (including 4 points for byes)

For and against after First Trimester – -67

For and against after Second Trimester – -157

The Journey so far

More of the same for the Sharks in the Second Trimester. More injuries, more controversy and more coaching changes. ASADA is still investigating. Todd Carney is goooone. Michael Lichaa is starting to show some talent. That must make the Sharks feel even better given he is going to the Bulldogs next season. On the plus side of the ledger they have a new major sponsor and have even won the last two games coming back from deficits of 22 points and 24 points.

Second Trimester Grade

D-

MVP

Paul Gallen – The leader of the Sharks has persevered and tried everything to rally his flagging troops around him. I can’t fault his effort.

Prognosis

They are four wins out of the 8 and will be focussing on next year already.

Raiders

Ladder position

Pre-season Prediction – 15th

After First Trimester – 14th

After Second Trimester – 15th

Points after First Trimester – 6

Points after Second Trimester – 12 (including 4 points for byes)

For and against after First Trimester – -54

For and against after Second Trimester – -119

The Journey so far

Kicked off the Second Trimester with a monster flogging by the Warriors and compiled a 1-6 record during that period. If I could sum up their Second Trimester in a word, that word would be – demoralising. The scary thing is that they were barely touched by the Origin period and their only win came against an Origin depleted Cowboys team. Pressure will be building on Ricky Stuart.

Second Trimester Grade

E+

MVP

Anthony Milford – He continues to be their most dangerous player. Unfortunately, he won’t be there next season.

Prognosis

The Raiders can start planning for Mad Monday.

Knights

Ladder position

Pre-season Prediction – 10th

After First Trimester – 15th

After Second Trimester – 14th

Points after First Trimester – 4

Points after Second Trimester – 12 (including 4 points for byes)

For and against after First Trimester – -48

For and against after Second Trimester – -97

The Journey so far

The Knights (like the Sharks) have continued much the same way in this troubled season and have shown some signs of life in their last two games to finish the Trimester with a 2-5 record. Their key players have slowly returned to the team from injury and they remain competitive in most of their matches. Continue to be unsettled by the ownership change, the serious injury to Alex McKinnon and now Wayne Bennett’s imminent departure.

Second Trimester Grade

D+

MVP

Darius Boyd – It has been a bleak year for Boyd, however, in recent weeks he has had a welcome return to top form which has coincided with the Origin period. Perhaps it is beard related. Newcastle should only be nuisance value towards the back end of the season, however, just how effective they will be in the spoiler’s role will depend on Boyd.

Prognosis

The Knights are playing for pride only.

Cowboys

Ladder position

Pre-season Prediction – 5th

After First Trimester – 12th

After Second Trimester – 13th

Points after First Trimester – 6

Points after Second Trimester – 16 (including 2 points for byes)

For and against after First Trimester – +34

For and against after Second Trimester – +60

The Journey so far

The Cowboys are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. 4-4 during the Origin period is above average for the Cows given the player drain. Continue to be abysmal away from home having been defeated in all 8 away fixtures in 2014. They have been brave and the only game where they were clearly outclassed was against the Raiders.

Second Trimester Grade

C

MVP

Johnathon Thurston – Continues to lead the Cowboys by example in every facet of the game. If someone can stand with him maybe they will have a chance of making the 8.

Prognosis

Might scrape into the 8 but have left much to do and have crucial and difficult away games against Bulldogs, Penrith and the Rabbitohs to contend with on the run home. Even if the make the 8 they are at long odds to hoist the trophy this year.

Titans

Gold Coast Titans - Photo by Naparazzi - CC-BY-SA-2.0

Gold Coast Titans – Photo by Naparazzi CC-BY-SA-2.0

Ladder position

Pre-season Prediction – 8th

After First Trimester – 3rd

After Second Trimester – 12th

Points after First Trimester – 12

Points after Second Trimester – 18 (including 4 points for byes)

For and against after First Trimester – +9

For and against after Second Trimester – -58

The Journey so far

The Titans have been decimated by injuries during the Second Trimester, especially to their halves and consequently sport a 1-6 record during this period to show for their hard work. They have rarely been disgraced and have narrowly lost on occasion but they have really missed Aiden Sezer, Ashley Harrison and at times Albert Kelly.

Second Trimester Grade

D

MVP

Greg Bird – Once again the best player in the fading Titans providing the defensive starch, go forward and occasional creativity that the Titans need, especially in the absence of other playmaking options.

Prognosis

If the Titans were fully fit post Origin you could say they were perfectly poised with one win outside the 8, however, given there is a logjam for that 8th position and given their current injury status I think it might be a bit beyond them this year. They have the Roosters, Sea Eagles and resurgent Warriors on their dance sheet as well, so that isn’t going to help.

Dragons

Ladder position

Pre-season Prediction – 13th

After First Trimester – 9th

After Second Trimester – 11th

Points after First Trimester – 8

Points after Second Trimester – 18 (including 2 points for byes)

For and against after First Trimester – -9

For and against after Second Trimester – -54

The Journey so far

The Dragons have had an eventful Second Trimester. They sacked their coach, they recruited Benji Marshall after his failed stint in Rugby Union and cobbled together a 4-4 record  in the interim which included pastings from the Eels and Bulldogs but marquee wins against the Storm and the Cowboys (albeit the weakened version of the Cowboys). Still in touch with the 8 and that has to be considered a pass mark.

Second Trimester Grade

C

MVP

Gareth Widdop – One point from the top of the leader board in the Dally M voting, his move to the Dragons has produced great dividends. Will benefit from the joint presence of Benji Marshall to go with Josh Dugan which means teams will have to focus on a number of attacking options rather than sweating on Widdop only. This augers well for the balance of Widdop’s season.

Prognosis

Even though the Dragons are only one win out of the 8 they still have a lot of work to do if they want to become a contender this year. They certainly look better than they did prior to Benji’s arrival so that has made a difference. Have a mixed run home so it isn’t beyond them to scrape into the 8 but I think that is the best they can hope for.

Tigers

Ladder position

Pre-season Prediction – 16th

After First Trimester – 4th

After Second Trimester – 10th

Points after First Trimester – 10

Points after Second Trimester – 20 (including 4 points for byes)

For and against after First Trimester – +10

For and against after Second Trimester – -48

The Journey so far

I keep expecting the Good Ship Tigers to capsize in a big way especially with injuries to Robbie Farah and James Tedesco during the Second Trimester but the Tigers are showing few signs of abating. Sporting a 3-4 record over this period of time they continue to lose against the top teams (Roosters, Broncos, Rabbitohs and Panthers) and win against the teams you would expect them to beat (Raiders, Sharks and Knights). Luke Brooks is continuing to run the show with great poise with Aaron Woods the new leader of the forwards in a pack that is playing above their weight (although they do have some size about them – if that makes any sense). They continue to stay in touch with the Top 8.

Second Trimester Grade

C-

MVP

Luke Brooks – I keep expecting Brooks to come back to the pack and for opposition teams to come up with better defensive patterns to frustrate him into rookie errors but he has a cool head on his shoulders and continues to find opportunities in attack. Everybody knew he was going to be a star of the future but he is quickly showing he is a star now.

Prognosis

The Tigers have a problematic run home including fixtures against Bulldogs (twice), Sea Eagles, Cowboys (away), Storm and Roosters so if they make the 8 they will have earned it. Add to that an injury list which includes Tim Moltzen, Liam Fulton, James Tedesco, Tim Simona, Sauaso Sue and Braith Anasta and that task becomes even more difficult. I think they will just miss out on the 8. Given they were most people’s pick for the wooden spoon prior to the start of the season that would have to count as a good result.

Eels

Ladder position

Pre-season Prediction – 14th

After First Trimester – 11th

After Second Trimester – 9th

Points after First Trimester – 8

Points after Second Trimester – 20 (including 4 points for byes)

For and against after First Trimester – -42

For and against after Second Trimester – -34

The Journey so far

The Eels continue to impress. Jarryd Hayne is in career best form (or at least the equal of the last time the Hayne Plane really flew injury free in 2009). Chris Sandow 2.0 has continued to thrive and their massive forward pack continues to roll. Semi Radradra is still raining tries down upon the NRL and Corey Norman is proving himself to be an astute purchase. Sporting a 4-3 record during the Second Trimester they find themselves on the cusp of the 8 which is much better than where everyone expected them to be.

Second Trimester Grade

C+

MVP

Jarryd Hayne – The Eels are a different side without him and he is clearly their best player by a country mile. Pleasing to see him able to shake the persistent injuries that have dogged him in previous seasons.

Prognosis

The Eels are currently beset with injuries to key players including Nathan Peats, Manu Mau and Will Hopoate. In total there are 7 first graders currently sidelined with injuries. Having said that, their run home isn’t terrifying with only 4 of their 9 remaining games against teams above them on the ladder with 3 of those games being home games, so not impossible. They should be able to scrape into the 8 with that kind of competition. Don’t expect them to do much when they get there though.

Thoughts from Brazil

  • Wow. 7-1. Worse defeat since their 6-0 defeat against Uruguay in 1920! It was astonishing. Even more astonishing than the Netherlands 5-1 defeat of Spain. It was like watching a train wreck.
  • The Tim Krul move in the quarter finals was brilliant but disappointing exit for the Nederlanders against a tough Argentina.
  • The Think Tank (unofficial title for any ideas generated by my friends or by my friends in combination with my own ideas – I was tossing up between that and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman) have gone back to the drawing board and have come up with the following alternative to penalty shootouts. I think this is the official winner. Someone should tell FIFA. I’m going to e-mail them right now:
  1. At the end of fulltime and in the event of a draw where goals are scored, the first scorer wins. Hopefully, that would provoke teams to be more attacking and lessen the chance of the alternatives below, considerably.
  2. In the event of a scoreless draw, golden goal extra time is played. First scorer wins. Consistent with the thought above…it’s all about the attack baby.
  3. If, at the end of 20 minutes extra time, it’s still scoreless, which hopefully would be unlikely, then the team with the most shots on target (ie if the keeper hadn’t saved it, the shot would have gone in) throughout the entire match, including extra time, is the winner. Of course, FIFA would need to appoint someone to be the official keeper of the shots on target tally. Theoretically, this could be automated, a la goal-line technology, so there could be little recourse for teams to feel hard done by.
  4. During the game, coaching staff, players and fans would need to be regularly updated on the number of shots on goal for both teams. Another statistic for statistic-o-philes like myself to be interested in…
  5. In the event of a scoreless draw after extra time, with equal shots on target (which would be a miracle), then a penalty shootout would occur, as per normal.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen also thought Thiago Silva was more valuable to the Brazilian defence than hitherto thought. It was obvious that out of Marcelo, David Luiz and Maicon what was sadly lacking was organisation. The absence of Neymar would have had a deleterious effect on defence with the theory being his presence in the attacking half would drain resources which could otherwise be deployed in attacking the Brazilian goal.

World Cup Grades so far (Updated)

Take a bow – It’s been fun but it’s over now

Costa Rica

Betting Rank – 31st (1608.14)

FIFA Ranking – 28th

Appraisal – Well the ride had to end eventually and they took the Netherlands all the way to a penalty shootout. Well done Costa Rica!

Grade – A+

Belgium

Betting Rank – 5th (18.88)

FIFA Ranking – 11th

Appraisal – Showed plenty of promise and will be well placed to shine in 2018. In the end the lack of experience got to them.

Grade – A-

Quarter Final Heroes

France

Betting Rank – 6th (24.25)

FIFA Ranking – 17th

Appraisal – The French certainly exceeded expectations and the German demolition of Brazil also showed that the French weren’t far off the pace when it came to this World Cup.

Grade – A

Colombia

Betting Rank – 11th (29.57)

FIFA Ranking – 8th

Appraisal – This World Cup will be remembered for the emergence of James Rodriguez as rumours swirl about his imminent transfer to one of Europe’s biggest clubs. Colombia should challenge again in 2018. This is a side on the rise. Hopefully!

Grade – A

Historically Demolished

Brazil

Betting Rank – 1st (3.88)

FIFA Ranking – 3rd

Appraisal – If you placed their thrashing at the hands of Germany to one side you would have to say they were of championship quality, especially with Neymar and Thiago Silva on board, but we will never forget the game against Germany.

Grade – C+

Fired many shots in anger but couldn’t land the killer blow

Netherlands

Arjen Robben - Photo by Dmitriy Neymyrok - CC-BY-SA-3.0

Arjen Robben – Photo by Dmitriy NeymyrokCC-BY-SA-3.0

Betting Rank – 12th (31.00)

FIFA Ranking – 15th

Appraisal – Given the expectation levels on this team prior to the start of the tournament their performance was sublime. Their fans will have many happy memories. In the end they will probably rue not airing their attacking instincts to a greater degree but some of that came down to Argentina’s stingy defence. I think their star attacking players looked tired towards the back end of their final game. Maybe that was the difference. I always think making defeated teams back up for the 3rd place playoff is pretty cruel. Maybe a chance to give the balance of the squad a run though.

Grade – A

Won’t consider themselves underdogs

Argentina

Betting Rank – 2nd (4.95)

FIFA Ranking – 5th

Appraisal – Argentina keeps squeaking by every game. They continue to do just enough to get by. I know they play a vastly different style but the way they keep accruing narrow victories reminds me of Spain. Eerie.

Grade – A-

The New Favourites

Germany

Betting Rank – 3rd (7.19)

FIFA Ranking – 2nd

Appraisal – Have they peaked too early or are they clearly too good for Argentina. Argentina will have the best defence they have faced so far. It will be fascinating to find out.

Grade – A+

What was sweeter than Jelly Bread?

  • The Maroons. Just awesome. It made me realise just how much the Queensland structure relied upon Cooper Cronk. His story reminds me of Matthew Hayden. In the shadow of other players for so long that despite already being in their late 20s early 30s still have a number of years of top class action left in the tank just because of the hunger factor. The next State of Origin series should be a cracker.

What wasn’t?

  • Jarryd Hayne, the new Michael Jordan. That is a big call. Michael Jordan is arguably the best Basketball player ever. Is Jarryd Hayne even the best Rugby League player in the World at the moment?

Other random thoughts 

  • It is time for the Cows and the Warriors to pull out the cheque book and make a down payment on a premiership by signing Wayne Bennett to his last major contract. 

Bill James Award 

Michael Ennis – Run Metres – 29m, Tries – 1, Try Assists – 2, Tackle Breaks – 2, Tackles – 45, Offloads – 1, Line Break Assists – 1, Line Breaks – 0, Errors – 0 and Minutes he was annoying – 80. 

Tips for Round 18 

Home teams first

Sea Eagles vs Tigers – Sea Eagles (DCE, Kieran Foran and Brookie will be too much for Brooks, Farah and the upstart Tigers)

Warriors vs Eels – Warriors (The Warriors machine is winding up and are much stronger at home)

Storm vs Bulldogs – Storm (Cooper Cronk is back and isn’t Billy Slater and Cameron Smith overjoyed at the prospect)

Titans vs Raiders – Titans (Titans are undermanned and scraping by but Raiders are in even worse shape)

Sharks vs Knights – Knights (Battle for the spoon should be won by the resurgent Knights especially with the Sharks playing without Carney)

Panthers vs Broncos –  Panthers (Will be closer than the bookies think but Panthers should shade the Broncos at home)

Last week – 2/5 

Season so far – 70/122 

Question for you

That is two weeks of penalty shootout alternatives. Have you got any better ideas?

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode on Thursday, 17 July 2014 titled ‘NRL Second Trimester Report Part 2 and World Cup Review’

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “2014 NRL Second Trimester Report Part 1 and World Cup Semi Final Review

  1. Pingback: NRL Second Trimester Report Part 2 and World Cup Review | The Game of Sport

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s