Sydney Roosters vs Brisbane Broncos: The ultra definitive NRL qualifying final stats preview

Tim Gore Columnist

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    We kick off the 2017 NRL finals series with the battle of second versus third, the only two finalists considered capable of beating the Melbourne Storm. However, while both sides have lots to recommend them, there are also distinct frailties.

    Roosters vs Broncos NRL Finals live scores and blog

    How they score and concede

    I have kept records of each NRL sides scoring in 2017. Below we compare the Roosters attack and defence against the Broncos attack and defence. To make this even more precise, we will just examine their scores against the other sides that finished the home-and-away season in the top four.

    Roosters attack/Broncos defence

    0-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61-70 71-80 Extra Total
    Roosters attack 4 4.67 0.67 6 2 0 5.33 7.33 0.33 30.33
    Broncos defence 0 6 2.67 2 0 0.67 2 6.67 0 20
    Average 2 5.3 1.7 4 1 0.3 3.7 7 0.2 25.2

    As we can see, the Roosters like to score early points. The Broncos don’t concede for the first 10 minutes but during the second 10 we can expect the Roosters to get on the board. They may also put some points on before half-time. However, in the last 20 minutes of the game we can expect the Roosters to score points a plenty.

    Broncos attack/Roosters defence

    0-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61-70 71-80 Extra Total
    Broncos attack 5.33 2 0.67 0.67 1.33 0.67 0 3.33 0 14
    Roosters defence 0 1.33 6 0 1.33 1.33 3.33 3.33 0 16.67
    Average 2.7 1.7 3.3 0.3 1.3 1 1.7 3.3 0 15.3

    Like the Broncos, the Roosters defence in the first 10 is pretty good and should neutralise the Broncos scoring. The Roosters defence goes to sleep from the 21st to 30th minutes – possibly coinciding with the front row rotation – so the Broncos must take advantage of that if they are to be any chance. If the game is still alive by that point, the Broncos score well in the last 10.

    Statistically predicted score: 25.2 – 15.3 Roosters

    Defence

    Team Stats – average per game 2017

    Stat Roosters Broncos Difference
    Line breaks conceded 3.5 3.3 Roosters + 0.2
    Missed tackles 24.7 29.5 Broncos +4.8
    Tries conceded 3 3.2 Broncos +0.2
    Errors 11.1 (#2 NRL) 9.3 (#14thNRL) Roosters +1.8
    Meters conceded 1425.7 1403.5 Broncos +22.2
    Penalties conceded 6.4 5.5 Roosters +0.9
    Drop outs conceded 1.6 1.8 Broncos +0.2

    There are two key stats that stand out here. The first is that the Broncos miss nearly five more tackles a game than the Roosters. With Andrew McCullogh – and now Korbin Sims – out you can expect that gap to turn into a chasm. The Broncos, however, are far better than the Bondi Boys when it comes to errors. The Broncos make the third least in the NRL this year, the Roosters the second most. If the Broncos are to have a chance here it will be if the Roosters get the dropsies.

    Player stats

    Stat Roosters Broncos
    Tackles made Jake Friend – 52
    Aidan Guerra – 33
    Jared Waerea-Hargreaves – 32
    Andrew McCullough – 50
    Matt Gillett – 37
    Josh McGuire – 33
    Missed tackles Dylan Napa – 2.5
    Joseph Manu – 2.4
    Luke Keary – 2.3
    Mitchell Pearce – 2.0
    Ben Hunt – 3.4
    Matt Gillett – 3.2
    Kodi Nikorima – 2.8
    Anthony Milford – 2.8
    Penalties conceded Jared Waerea-Hargreaves – 29
    Mitchell Pearce – 15
    Jake Friend – 12
    Tautau Moga – 17
    Adam Blair – 16
    James Roberts – 12
    Errors Latrell Mitchell – 31
    Luke Keary – 27
    Blake Ferguson – 23
    Daniel Tupou – 23
    Mitchell Pearce – 22
    Corey Oates – 24
    Anthony Milford – 24
    James Roberts – 21
    Jordan Kahu – 18

    The Roosters are nearly at full strength while the Broncos are missing lots of talent. Nowhere is this a bigger problem than in Andrew McCullough’s absence. No one has really replaced him as the defensive lynchpin of the Brisbane side. This comes home to roost (boom tish!) with Ben Hunt and Matt Gillett’s propensity for missing tackles. Dylan Napa misses too many for the Roosters but it is nowhere near as crucial.

    What is crucial is the Roosters’ errors. The Broncos will heap pressure on Latrell Mitchell, Luke Keary and Blake Ferguson and hope to get into their heads. If they can, we could see some legendary brain explosions.

    We can be virtually assured that big Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will concede a penalty or two.

    Attack

    Team Stats – average per game 2017

    Stat Roosters Broncos Difference
    Line breaks 4.2 4.3 +0.1 Broncos
    Tackle breaks 26.9 33.1 +6.2 Broncos
    Tries scored 3.5 4.3 +0.8 Broncos
    Meters made 1439 1505 (#2 NRL) +66 Broncos
    Penalties received 5.5 5.6 +0.1 Broncos
    Drop outs forced 37 43 +6 Broncos

    All of the team attacking stats are in the Broncos’ favour. However, those stats have been steadily falling in the absence of McCullough. The Roosters would be wary of the Broncos’ attacking prowess. It is no mistake that Wayne Bennett flicked the ‘all-out attack’ switch when the injury fairy came and decimated his defence. The likes of Anthony Milford and James Roberts can tear you apart. Can their forwards give them enough space though?

    Player stats

    Stat Roosters Broncos
    Tackle breaks Latrell Mitchell – 3.6
    Blake Ferguson – 3.3
    Michael Gordon – 2.8
    James Roberts – 4.0
    Anthony Milford – 3.9
    Tautau Moga – 3.4
    Line breaks Latrell Mitchell – 16
    Daniel Tupou – 12
    Blake Ferguson – 12
    James Roberts – 15
    Corey Oates – 10
    Tautau Moga – 9
    Metres gained Boyd Cordner – 141
    Daniel Tupou – 139
    Blake Ferguson – 130
    Jared Waerea-Hargreaves – 124
    Corey Oates – 156
    Tautau Moga – 133
    Josh McGuire – 130
    James Roberts – 121
    Tries scored James Roberts – 16
    Corey Oates – 13
    Jordan Kahu – 9
    Tautau Moga – 9
    Latrell Mitchell – 13
    Daniel Tupou – 11
    Blake Ferguson – 10
    Try assists Mitchell Pearce – 13
    Luke Keary – 13
    Latrell Mitchell – 7
    Anthony Milford – 17
    Ben Hunt – 10
    Darius Boyd – 8
    Line break assists Luke Keary – 16
    Mitchell Pearce – 13
    Latrell Mitchell – 9
    Anthony Milford – 15
    Darius Boyd – 9
    Kodi Nikorima – 8
    Offloads Daniel Tupou – 33
    Mitchell Pearce – 24
    Jared Waerea-Hargreaves – 23
    Latrell Mitchell – 20
    Anthony Milford – 45
    Adam Blair – 42
    Tevita Pangai Jnr – 29
    Korbin Sims- 26

    And here we see the attacking keys for both sides. With ball-in-hand it is Latrell Mitchell and Blake Ferguson for the Roosters, and James Roberts and Anthony Milford for the Broncos. When it comes to assists, Pearce and Keary pretty much even out with Hunt and Milford.

    However, there will be no Darius Boyd to back the Broncos halves up by chiming into the backline. What a huge out that is. Note that the Roosters have two forwards in their best metre eaters and the Broncos only have one.

    History

    Overall: This will be the 47th match between these sides. It stands 28-18 in the Broncos favour (60.8 per cent).

    The last 10: The last 10 games between these two sides have been split five all. Each game went with the home side. The last time the Broncos beat the Roosters away from Brisbane was in Round 14 2012. Matt Cecchin was the referee that night too.

    At this venue: These two sides last met here in Round 13 where the Roosters ran out 18-16 winners. Being the Roosters home ground they have played here 24 times. The Roosters have only won 10 of those (41.6 per cent). However, they have won the last four straight.

    Finals: The Roosters and the Broncos have only met in five finals matches. The Roosters have only won one of those, the 2002 preliminary final en route to the premiership. The last time they met in a final was the 2015 preliminary final where the Broncos won 31-12.

    Form: The Roosters have won three of their last five games, including a win against the Sharks. However, they also lost to the Sea Eagles and to the Storm. Their aggregated score over those games is 89-100 against them. The Broncos have won four of their last five games, racking up 164 points while conceding only 84. However, 52 of those points were put on them by the Eels just two weeks ago.

    The Roosters’ overall record
    This will be the Rooster’s 2175th game since 1908 (NSWRFL/NSWRL/ARL/NRL). They have a 52.6 per cent win ratio overall.

    They have played 101 finals games with a win ratio of 50.5 per cent.

    They have featured in six of the last ten finals series.

    The Broncos’ overall record
    This will be the Broncos 756th game (NSWRL/ARL/SL/NRL) since joining the competition in 1988.

    They have a 61.85 per cent win ratio overall.

    They have played 55 finals matches with a win ratio of 52.7 per cent.

    They have only missed the finals four times in their thirty-year history (1988, 1991, 2010, 2013). They have featured in eight of the last ten finals series.

    Referees: Matt Cecchin, Alan Shortall in partnership

    These two have done nine games together this season.

    In 2017 They average 14 penalties awarded per game (the season average for a game is 12.9). Their average count for a game is 7.6-6.4 to the home side. The average count in 2017 is 6.9-6. So you can expect them to assert their authority on the game.

    Home and away: Of their nine games together, the home side has won five time, the away side four.

    Winning the count and the game: Five times the side that won the count also won the game. With the exception of the Round 1 game between the Sharks and Broncos, when the away side has won the game under these two they also lost the count.

    Cecchin’s games in 2017 have seen 307 penalties awarded and he has sin-binned five players (1 binning for every 61.4 penalties). One was Rooster Luke Keary in their Round 25 clash against the Sharks.

    All time these two have done three Roosters games and Trent Robinson’s boys have won all three. They’ve done two Broncos games with a win and a loss for the Brisbane boys.

    Finals: This is the fourth final that Cecchin and Shortall have officiated together. They were paired together for the first three weeks of the 2016 finals series. The biggest margin in any of the games was six points. The home side won two out of the three.

    Refs individual records:
    Matt Cecchin has officiated four matches between these sides. Three were in Sydney, one was in Gosford. The Broncos won all but one in spite of being the away team. This is the first final Cecchin has officiated between the two sides.

    Alan Shortall has officiated two games between these sides, both in Brisbane, neither finals. They have won one a piece.

    Finals records:
    This will be Cecchin’s 19th final. Two have involved the Roosters and they have won both games. Three times he has controlled the Broncos in finals, once at home, twice away. The Broncos only won the home game.

    This will be Shortall’s fifth finals match. All five have been as pocket referee.

    The Danger Men

    Jake Friend
    It takes a certain type of ruthless brutality to win finals games. Friend has those characteristics and he uses them to keep his team focused and his defence strong. This will be the key to the Roosters winning this game.

    Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
    The Roosters will be looking to overpower the Broncos depleted pack to assure victory. These two blokes will lead the way.

    Latrell Mitchell
    I know I’ve said above that he could suffer brain explosions but this kid is a superb, naturally talented footballer. We all knew it from the moment we saw him. In the centres for this game he could explode good. And I’d love to see it.

    Anthony Milford
    Plain and simple: if the Broncos are to win it will be on the back of this blokes freak talent. He is that good. Can he pull this one off though?

    James Roberts
    Lots on this bloke’s shoulders too. He needs to carve up the Roosters line and cause chaos. If the Roosters can get put off their game plan then the Broncos could jag this. Roberts must have a blinder and he can.

    Josh McGuire
    I haven’t been a great fan of this bloke. However, this season he has gone a long way to win me over. He was magnificent in Origin 2 and has really stepped up for his team to not just tackle hard and run the ball with vigour, but also as a leader. The Broncos are really going to need him going hard in this match and leading the way for the team.

    Who is going to win and why

    The Roosters are going to win and there are clear reasons why:

    The Broncos are missing too many key players (McCullough, Boyd, Sims). The Roosters are almost at full strength. The Roosters pack is clearly better. And the Roosters are at home.

    After McCullough’s knee went in Round 21, Coach Bennett flicked the ‘all-out attack’ switch for his side. Their hope is that their stellar attack can blow sides away. However, as the Eels showed in Round 25, the Broncos have a soft defensive underbelly. They can’t afford to fall behind. I can’t see the Roosters letting this one slip.

    Prediction: Roosters 13+

    Tim Gore
    Tim Gore

    Tim has been an NRL statistician for ABC Radio Grandstand since 1999, primarily as part of their Canberra coverage. Tim has loved rugby league since Sterlo was a kid with lots of hair but was cursed with having no personal sporting ability whatsoever. He couldn't take a hit in footy, was a third division soccer player making up numbers, plays off 41 in golf and is possibly the world's worst cricketer ever. He has always been good at arguing the point though and he has a great memory of what happened. Follow Tim on Twitter.

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