2016 NRL Final Trimester Report Part 1 – The Young and the Restless

Finals are here but first a blow by blow on the Final Trimester. This week teams finishing 13th to 16th.

Knights

Ladder Position

Pre-season Prediction – 15th

After First Trimester – 16th

After Second Trimester – 16th

After Final Trimester – 16th

Points after First Trimester – 3

Points after Second Trimester – 5

Points after Final Trimester – 7

For and against after First Trimester – -191

For and against after Second Trimester – -341

For and against after Final Trimester – -495

The Journey so far

Terms I used to describe the first 2 Trimesters for the Knights included abysmal, stuck in wooden spoon purgatory, living up to very low expectations, floundering and already planning for next season. Unfortunately, nothing changed in the Final Trimester with the Knights losing 9 games in a row. On the plus side of the ledger only 2 of those were floggings (36-4 vs Sharks and 42-6 vs Panthers). They played well in patches but consistency would always let them down and the points would flow against them, usually in bunches.

Final Trimester Grade

E-

MVP

Jake Mamo – This was pretty hard to pick with Jarod Mullen, Nathan Ross, Robbie Rochow and Sione Mata’utai all being best on ground at different times but Mamo gets the nod by virtue of some standout performances in the Final Trimester.

How close was my pre-season prediction?

I thought they would be terrible (15th) as did the bookies (15th). They were.

Prognosis

I can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel for the Knights. They are still owned by the NRL with no new owner on the horizon. The NRL won’t be sanctioning drastic moves in the player market. In fact, the Knights are banking on the ‘recruit from within’ approach, which would work if they kept all their promising juniors, but that isn’t the case. The sample size for Nathan Brown is pretty small but he hasn’t provided any indication that things will change for the better. Losing four of their best forwards won’t help either with Robbie Rochow, Tariq Sims, Jeremy Smith and Kade Snowden leaving the club. The emergence of the Saifiti twins and Nathan Ross is a plus but all signs point to a long stay in the basement. At least there isn’t relegation to worry about. 

Roosters

Ladder Position

Pre-season Prediction – 6th

After First Trimester – 15th

After Second Trimester – 15th

After Final Trimester – 15th

Points after First Trimester – 4

Points after Second Trimester – 10

Points after Final Trimester – 16

For and against after First Trimester – -40

For and against after Second Trimester – -106

For and against after Final Trimester – -133

The Journey so far

It was just a super weird under-performing season for the Roosters. If the Eels hadn’t entered the Tyson Zone (the theory Bill Simmons hatched to describe the phenomenon when a person or team enters a zone where any news story, no matter how shocking, wouldn’t surprise you) we probably would’ve paid more attention. The fall from grace was sudden and probably contributed to by a number of factors, only some of which we will ever know. Certainly injuries in key positions didn’t help. Mitchell Pearce, Aidan Guerra, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dale Copley and Boyd Cordner all missed significant time. Players lost in the previous two off seasons contributed (SBW, Anthony Minichiello, Michael Jennings, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and James Maloney). Players lost to behavioural issues or investigations (SKD and Mitchell Pearce), also not ideal. All of these combined to hand over the keys to some very junior drivers (Latrell Mitchell, Jayden Nikorima, Jackson Hastings, Joseph Manu, Connor Watson and Ryan Matterson). It all resulted in a season which never really got going and while they played a little better in the Final Trimester (with a 3-6 record), it was all too little too late.

Final Trimester Grade

D+

MVP

Mitchell Pearce – Pearce just finished his 10th season in the NRL and was playing rep footy in only his second season. It is hard to believe he is only 27 years of age. This was a down season for him with all the footy he missed. He is a high profile lightning rod for criticism but at the end of the day, he is an above average player with plenty left in the tank.

How close was my pre-season prediction?

I predicted a bit of slippage this season (6th) but no-one saw this coming, including the bookies (3rd). I thought the player losses and no Mitchell Pearce for the start of the season would cause a drop in performance but they basically went into free fall.

Prognosis

The real danger for a team falling this far, after a sustained period of success, is that they will stay at the bottom of the ladder for a few seasons. Losing has a way of perpetuating itself and if the club can’t bounce back in the next season, often a player purge and coach reset is the next logical step but that can just prolong the cycle of despair (Knights fans nodding). I don’t see that happening to the Roosters. For starters, Trent Robinson is in the top echelon of coaches. Secondly, it is highly unlikely that they will suffer injuries to the degree they did this season. Many of their stars are still in the prime of their career like Mitchell Pearce, Aidan Guerra, Boyd Cordner, Blake Ferguson, Kane Evans and Dylan Napa. That is a very solid core. They also have a bevy of young and talented players who were blooded this season and will be better for the run. They’ve also nabbed Luke Keary but I would like to see how he and Mitchell Pearce gel before proclaiming that a success. They will definitely be better than this year. 

Eels

Bevan French - Photo by Naparazzi - CC-BY-SA 2.0

Bevan French – Photo by NaparazziCC-BY-SA 2.0

Ladder Position

Pre-season Prediction – 8th

After First Trimester – 5th

After Second Trimester – 4th

After Final Trimester – 14th

Points after First Trimester – 12

Points after Second Trimester – 22

Points after Final Trimester – 18

For and against after First Trimester – 45

For and against after Second Trimester – 61

For and against after Final Trimester – -26

The Journey so far

During the Second Trimester report, I mentioned that the Eels had entered the Tyson Zone. The Eel’s permanent residence in the Tyson Zone continued in the Final Trimester with injury to Semi Radradra, the Anthony Watmough payout, constant Board speculation and now some match fixing investigations, just for good measure. Sitting just under the madness is the fact that Parramatta finished with a 13-11 record, a modern day miracle. Bevan French was a fairly good find as well, as was the continued development of Kenny Edwards.

Final Trimester Grade

C

MVP

Corey Norman – Continues to trend upwards. Not without his off field troubles this season, his on field form didn’t really suffer.

How close was my pre-season prediction?

I’m a bit dirty on the Eels as I pegged them in the 8 (8th) while the bookies were slotting them further down the ladder (11th). I never thought the salary cap investigation would lead to this though.

Prognosis

It is difficult for me to believe that a club which seems as badly run as the Eels can pull themselves out of such an administrative mess but the team itself was a credit to Brad Arthur and the coaching staff. Anything could happen next season. The club has appointed Bernie Gurr as the new CEO which is a positive move and Siosaia Vave was a revelation at the Sea Eagles this season, so he is a good buy. A lot will depend on whether the club can stabilise itself during the off season. Should challenge for the 8 next year but that is difficult to say with any certainty. 

Sea Eagles

Ladder Position

Pre-season Prediction – 12th

After First Trimester – 9th

After Second Trimester – 14th

After Final Trimester – 13th

Points after First Trimester – 8

Points after Second Trimester – 10

Points after Final Trimester – 20

For and against after First Trimester – -24

For and against after Second Trimester – -99

For and against after Final Trimester – -109

The Journey so far

For the first time in a long time the Sea Eagles are in steady decline. With five games to go, the Sea Eagles were on a four game win streak with a horrid run home but their future was in their own hands (vs Eels, Bulldogs, Storm, Raiders and Panthers). Win out and they would be unlikely finalists. That they went on to lose all five remaining games was typical of their season. They have some great players but their succession planning eventually came unstuck.

Final Trimester Grade

D+

MVP

Tom Trbojevic – Both Trbojevic brothers have reps written all over them with Tom translating promise into performance at an alarming rate. One of the bright lights of an otherwise dismal season and don’t be fooled, anything less than finals football is failure at Brookvale.

How close was my pre-season prediction?

Nailed it (12th). Bookies were drinking the Manly Kool Aid (4th).

Prognosis

Basically rebuilding almost from scratch around DCE and the Trbojevic brothers with Luke Burgess, Jamie Lyon, Feleti Mateo, Tom Symonds and Siosaia Vave all leaving the team. Brett Stewart isn’t getting any younger and the forward pack looks very thin. I certainly don’t see them contending next year. 

What is sweeter than Jelly Bread?

  • Women’s AFL Competition – I saw the episode of Australian Story with Moana Hope and Susan Alberti, which is well worth a look and then followed that up with watching some of the Bulldogs vs Demons exhibition match on the weekend where Hope demonstrated why she is so prolific.
  • The Socceroos – Looked a bit twitchy first half against Iraq and I thought ‘this could end in tears’ but finished that game very strongly and then jagged 3 points in the United Arab Emirates which is massive in the context of World Cup qualification. 

What isn’t?

  • The Wallabies – Just looking like a rabble at the moment. Very poor period for Australian Rugby. I think Michael Cheika is the answer but the gulf is just so great at the moment between Australia and the other leading nations.

Stay Tuned

Next exciting episode will be on Saturday, 17 September 2016 titled ‘2016 NRL Final Trimester Report Part 2 – Definitely Suffering Final’s Remorse’.

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3 thoughts on “2016 NRL Final Trimester Report Part 1 – The Young and the Restless

  1. Pingback: 2016 NRL Final Trimester Report Part 2 – Definitely Suffering Final’s Remorse | The Game of Sport

  2. Pingback: 2016 NRL Final Trimester Report Part 3 – Just happy to be there | The Game of Sport

  3. Pingback: 2016 NRL Final Trimester Report Part 4 – There can be only one! | The Game of Sport

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