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A serious - but not so serious - look at the last 19 seasons

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Dogs Boddy new author
Roar Rookie
13th March, 2019
11

For many years now I have been maintaining a simple spreadsheet tracking the NRL, and coming into the 20th season since the new competition really kicked off (2000) I thought I might share my results and some rambling thoughts.

Now this is certainly not perfect, and is a really simple system, but it helps to highlight to me how teams are going over the long run.

Points are allocated based on where the team finished on the ladder for each season. Premierships are recorded and that team scores a zero for that year. The lower the score the better the team results.

There are some challenges with maintaining the database, namely what to do with new teams. Both Souths and The Titans joined the competition after it started and it would not have been fair to have them start on zero considering the lower the better.

For these two I tallied up their results for the ten years following their joining the comp, averaged that out and allocated it to the years that were missing. It’s not perfect but I’m also not using this for deep statistical analysis, it seems to work.

Melbourne also posed some issues for me around their salary cap penalties. While the premierships and minor premierships were stripped for large scale fraud, how do I reflect that in the table?

Taking away the premiership was a no brainer, but should I also have handicapped them for their ladder positions as well?

After all they may not have done so well without that roster. In the end, I felt that was unfair, and it ended up opening up a hornet’s nest as to what to do with all the other teams caught cheating the cap as well.

I decided if the NRL didn’t demote their ladder position than neither should I, so their finishing position is reflected in the table and there is no premier recorded for that year.

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I think that was the only fair way to handle those years. Interestingly I averaged out their following years (as per Souths and the Titans) and it came back as a three or four or something ridiculous like that, so would not have affected the table in any way.

The wooden spoon was certainly punishment enough as far as my system goes.

Suliasi Vunivalu

Suliasi Vunivalu of the Storm (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

So how did everyone fare? Well here they are from the best to worst.

I think it goes without saying that there is a lot of tongue in cheek here. I shouldn’t have to spell that out but there are a lot of Queenslanders on the forum and we all know they are not the quickest.

In fact, I think they are still an hour behind…

1. Melbourne Storm – Total points 82 (average finish position 4), Finals appearances 16 (84 per cent), Premierships 2 (13 per cent of finals appearances), Wooden Spoons 1 (5per cent).

Number one with a reason – the Purple Cobras. Everyone’s least favourite Queensland team, they have been a dominant force for the last 19 seasons, and especially for the last ten.

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If the salary cap sanctions hadn’t taken away two premierships and added a spoon their stats would be even more impressive, almost as impressive as Billy Slater’s boat.

The fact they only have two premierships for their efforts really shows how hard it can be to win one when you play by the rules.

Melbourne Storm generic crowd

Storm fans (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

It is going to take a lot of very mediocre seasons to bring this team back to the pack, and I just can’t see that happening any time soon.

It’s a golden age to be a Storm supporter, enjoy it while it lasts, bask in all its glory and make sure you rub it in hard to everyone else while you can.

All empires fall, just ask the Romans, or the Raiders.

2. Brisbane Broncos – Total points 101 (average finish position 5), Finals appearances 17 (89 per cent), Premierships 2 (12 per cent of finals appearances), Wooden Spoons 0.

Brisbane could be labelled Mr consistency, and not just Mr Friday night consistency.

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They have only missed the finals on two occasions, making the final eight an impressive 89 per cent of the time and they have two rings to show for their efforts.

However, it’s been well over ten years now since they tasted success and while they seem to remain the darlings of the channel 9 coverage, I am sure they would trade a lot of Friday nights for another trophy in the cabinet.

The boys on Red Hill have tried everything, bringing back Bennett, come on Bennett, you better produce Bennett etc, and Alfie spends so much time on the pitch you might as well just give him the number seven jersey and call it a day.

I reckon he could still run rings around them.

In the end, they punted their number one son to bring in a dead rabbit in order to try and make magic happen. Hopefully he’s only renting up there for now.

The Broncos produce consistently year in and year out, you can usually bank on them to be there close to the end, but I am sure the fans would like to see more conversion of that consistency.

If not they can always console themselves with being able to watch their team every Friday night at the pub. Life is gold, XXXX Gold.

Payne Haas (right) of the Broncos is tackled by Robert Jennings of the Rabbitohs

Payne Haas is in strife. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

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3. Sydney Roosters – Total points 113 (average finish position 6), Finals appearances 12 (63 per cent), Premierships 3 (25 per cent of finals appearances), Wooden Spoons 1 (5 per cent).

If Melbourne are the benchmark, and Brisbane are Mr consistency, the Roosters are without doubt the most successful team of the last 19 seasons.

Uncle Nick’s paper bag has worked wonders time and time again with bringing success to Bondi. One of only three teams to have more than one premiership, these blokes have three of them from 12 finals appearances.

That is a win rate of 25 per cent which is heads and shoulders above everyone else. The Roosters seem to struggle with the consistency Brisbane show, and are a bit hot and cold when it comes to results.

When they make the eight they have been in the top four – 83 per cent of the time which is just incredible, however when they are not in the finals they generally don’t finish close to the eight at all.

When the Roosters are on they are hard to stop, when they are not… well there is a better than even chance the next year they will get a minor premiership at least.

If that doesn’t happen for more than two years in a row uncle Nick will just sort it out. Nothing to see here, move along.

Cooper Cronk for the Roosters

Cooper Cronk (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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4. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles – Total points 139 (average finish position 7), Finals appearances 11 (58 per cent), Premierships 2 (18 per cent of finals appearances), Wooden Spoons 0.

Booooo. Manly have run hot and cold through the last 19 seasons and still ended up fourth with two premierships to their name. It just makes you hate them even more doesn’t it?

Don’t ever write off Manly, ever. To be fair their early numbers were atrocious while they were still pretending to amalgamate with Norths and play as the Northern Eagles in front of six people up at Gosford stadium.

If you could take those years away their numbers are a lot better. They had a dream run through 2005-2014 before dropping off again slightly when all Des’ back-ended contracts paid out and the club spent the rest on making sure DCE perfected his new backflip technique.

When they make the eight they are just over 54 per cent to make the top four which is impressive. They are also the last of the teams to have more than one ring, which once again shows just how hard it is to win one.

Manly look down and out.

Sea Eagles players react after conceding a try (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

5. Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs – Total points 140 (average finish position 7), Finals appearances 11 (58 per cent), Premierships 1 (9 per cent of finals appearances), Wooden Spoons 2 (11 per cent).

The Bulldogs have done it all, salary caps, sex scandals, boardroom issues, Willie Mason, and they are also the first team to have more than one wooden spoon yet are still ranked fifth over the last 19 years.

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That just shows what a great team the boys from Bankstown are. It’s been 15 years now since they last won a premiership, and much like the Broncos this club must be getting frustrated at the lack of success.

At least they have a bloke dressing like Braveheart and banging the drum, even if they are getting pasted at the moment.

Des did his best to make the club as broke as possible and they are playing with a greatly reduced roster, but you shouldn’t ever write them off.

I can’t see a bright immediate future for the Dogs, but I will always have a soft spot for them and hope they bounce back soon.

6. St George Illawarra Dragons – Total points 141 (average finish position 7), Finals appearances 11 (58 per cent), Premierships 1 (9 per cent of finals appearances), Wooden Spoons 0.

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Ah the Dragons, I hate the bloody Dragons. To have them above my team on this ladder just makes my blood boil. Stupid Dragons.

Anyway, it’s hard to get a read on this team, especially in recent years but you can’t argue with the statistics.

Sixth overall after 19 seasons looks about right as they always seem to be there about come the pointy end of the season.

When they make the eight they have only had a 27 per cent success rate in reaching the top four which might explain a few things for long-suffering fans.

Still they have a premiership in a time when they are hard to come by and will always be in contention with a 58 per cent history of getting into the final eight. If they could do it without giving their fans a minor heart attack on the way it would be even better.

If the Steelers can string a whole season together this year it could be very interesting, but with Mary in charge who knows.

Since they won the title in 2010 they have only been to the finals three times in eight years…

7. Cronulla Sutherland Sharks – Total points 159 (average finish position 8), Finals appearances 11 (58 per cent), Premierships 1 (9 per cent of finals appearances), Wooden Spoons 1 (5 per cent)

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Up, up Cronulla!

Ok I have my personal bias out of the way, let’s look at the stats.

A better than even history of making the eight but with only a 36 per cent chance of it being in the top four. This could explain why it took 50 years to win a premiership?

While that was a glorious day, let’s hope they don’t wait that long to do it again. I’m in my mid 40’ now, and would like to see the boys raise another trophy before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

I also don’t want to have to explain to my then adult children what a premiership win is, they may start to believe it’s all made up, like the New Zealand Warriors.

If we can stop the dodgy supplements, back-room payments, coach emails and ‘bubbling’ idiots, we may be in with a shot. Just wind up Andy Fifita and let him loose. If nothing else it will be entertaining.

Andrew Fifita of the Sharks

Andrew Fifita of the Sharks. (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

8. North Queensland Cowboys – Total points 165 (average finish position 9), Finals appearances 10 (53 per cent), Premierships 1 (10 per cent of finals appearances), Wooden Spoons 1 (5 per cent).

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Rounding out the top eight teams are the Cowboys, everyone’s favourite QLD team. John Thurston dragged this team from obscurity and turned them into a force to be reckoned with.

Nobody else, just JT. After years of dodgy calls, deep-rooted conspiracies designed to keep them down, and seventh-tackle tries the Cows finally ended their drought with a big win in 2015 over the dastardly Ponies.

Who could ever forget that game? I won’t, you won’t and Ben Hunt certainly won’t either.

Life after JT will be interesting for the boys up north, I certainly hope they don’t follow Newcastle into oblivion after losing their champion playmaker.

Still, they still have a better than even record of making the finals and it’s not like they were a one man show. Besides now JT2 can just be called JT and everyone can carry on as usual, problem solved.

Johnathan Thurston

JT is one recent retiree. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

9. Penrith Panthers – Total points 168 (average finish position 9), Finals appearances 8 (42 per cent), Premierships 1 (13 per cent of finals appearances), Wooden Spoons 2 (11 per cent).

The Panthers, the mountain men, the chocolate warriors, the amateur home video enthusiasts.

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The Panthers are coming in at number nine and are the first team to have less than a 50 per cent success rate in reaching the finals.

Although recent years have been fruitful for the men in black, and they now have everyone’s favourite Dad coaching so what could go wrong with that?

The Panthers have had a pretty awful run over the last 19 seasons.

It’s been a long time between drinks, and even longer between Premierships. Kids who were conceived out north west on that glorious night in 2003 are driving now, driving!

When they don’t make the eight they really don’t make the eight which shows how hard it has been for this team to find any rhythm.

Now we are ten years into Gus’ five-year plan hopefully they can keep things going in the right direction.

Tyrone May passes the ball

Tyrone May of the Panthers (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

10. Canberra Raiders – Total points 177 (average finish position 9), Finals appearances 9 (47 per cent), Premierships 0, Wooden Spoons 0.

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I feel sorry for the Raiders, I really do. They seem to be like that kid who really, really, wants to join in but doesn’t know how to catch the ball or run without tripping over.

Lots of enthusiasm, plenty or drive and plenty of hope, but no success. The Raiders are the perpetual bridesmaid, if making the eight was the main goal.

Over the last 19 seasons they are a fairly middling team who have produced fairly middling results. Not flash, but not bad either.

No rings, but also no spoons so you can’t be too sad about that.

All I have left to say is Canberra is probably the first entity in the history of the world to be happy to get the clap.

Nick Cotric of the Canberra Raiders

Nick Cotric of the Raiders, in green – and blue. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

11. New Zealand Warriors – Total points 180 (average finish position 9), Finals appearances seven (37 per cent), Premierships 0, Wooden Spoons 0.

Who? Do these blokes play in the NRL, really? I wouldn’t know because, like the majority of people who don’t have Foxtel, I have never seen them.

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Like the Yeti or the Loch Ness Monster the New Zealand Warriors are a bit of a myth to me. You hear whisperings every year about a team that has so much potential but no discipline.

A team that went bust as the Auckland Warriors but came back next season as the New Zealand Warriors and it was all good cuzzy bro.

A team that will occasionally make the finals and have latte sipping polo knit wearing Bondi locals asking if they are in town to play the Waratahs.

I hope to catch a glimpse of them one day. Apparently, we stole their half and he is pretty good. I wouldn’t know because I have never seen him.

Myth.

12. Newcastle Knights – Total points 181 (average finish position 9), Finals appearances 8 (42 per cent), Premierships 1 (13 per cent of finals appearances), Wooden Spoons 4 (21 per cent).

The Knights were going great, really great, then Andrew Johns retired to focus on his nightclubbing and Wayne Bennett strode into town.

Then it all went south very quickly. Then they didn’t go so great any more, not even mildly.

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You can’t knock the heart of players like Danny Buderus, Mat and Kurt Gidley and co but they never really honestly seemed to be in the hunt.

They have more wooden spoons than anyone else and if this current rebuild doesn’t go well I can see them being wedged somewhere very uncomfortable for Nathan Brown.

I’m sure the Chief has said as much and I believe him, only a fool wouldn’t.

The Knights have bought a great side on paper, let’s hope it was carbon fibre reinforced paper so they don’t just get blown away again.

Kalyn Ponga of the Knights

Kalyn Ponga of the Knights. (AAP Image/Brendon Thorne)

13. Parramatta Eels – Total points 182 (average finish position 10), Finals appearances 8 (42 per cent), Premierships 0, Wooden Spoons 3 (16 per cent).

Oh how the mighty have fallen. When I was a kid Parra were the hot team, everyone wanted to go for Parra.

Between them and the Dogs they ruled to 80s and nobody could touch them. Names like Price, Cronin, Grothe, Kenny, Sterling – the list goes on.

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It was like the dream team all wrapped up in blue and gold. Then the 90s happened, then the 00s. Then the teens.

We are still waiting for Parra to come back. It feels like it should just happen, like they are just in a rut. Trouble is it is a bloody big rut and nothing seems to be able to help them.

There was hope in the 00s and there was a plane that everyone was on, but it flew away and so did the dreams of all the fans.

You know what I really want to see, even though I follow neither team? A Dogs–Parra grand final.

I want to see the town draped in blue gold and white banners like they used to do years ago. Sadly, I think the chances of that happening in the near future are the same as having Channel Nine dusting off dicky knee.

Brad Arthur Eels

Brad Arthur tries to squint the pain away. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

14. South Sydney Rabbitohs – Total points 185 (average finish position ten), Finals appearances 6 (32 per cent), Premierships 1 (17 per cent of finals appearances), Wooden Spoons 3 (16 per cent).

The Rabbits, took on the man and won. Demanded to be let back into a competition because they were a foundation club and won.

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That argument didn’t work for Wests, Balmain, St George, Norths or Newtown but, damn it, sixth times a charm. So what did they do with that place in the comp that was so rightly theirs?

They spent the next decade hovering around the spoon like it was filled with mum’s Bolognese.

To be fair it’s not easy getting going after offloading all your crew, just ask Wests when they were almost kicked out in the 80s and never really recovered.

It took the Bunnies a long time but a premiership in 2014 finally let everyone know they were back.

Random Souths fans around the world rejoiced, it was the start of a new era. Well almost, they haven’t been able to replicate that success but at least they are in the picture again now.
Glory glory indeed.

Greg Inglis

Greg Inglis of the Rabbitohs runs the ball (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

15. Wests Tigers – Total points 188 (average finish position 10), Finals appearances 3 (16 per cent), Premierships 1 (33 per cent of finals appearances), Wooden Spoons 0.

The bastard love child of two teams who hated each other is never really going to work that well. Wests have not had a great start to their new joint venture, but not a terrible one either.

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Making the finals three times in 19 years is not great, but avoiding the spoon is not easy either for a new club. They do have a 100 per cent success rate in grand finals they have played so you can’t knock that. And what a grand final it was.

Benji Marshall at his best, free flowing, fast and entertaining football.

It was a breath of fresh air and showed how great the game is when played well, with skill speed and luck.

Then the Storm brought in a wrestling coach to combat the pace and slow the game down, then everyone else saw how effective that was and brought in their own wrestling coaches, they we spent the next 15 years banning different moves and trying to speed the game back up again and find that mythical flow.

Thanks a lot, Wests.

16. Gold Coast Titans – Total points 203 (average finish position 11), Finals appearances 3 (16 per cent), Premierships 0, Wooden Spoons 1 (5 per cent).

Ah the Gold Coast, the most hated team of all 17 remaining Norths fans.

Greg Florimo has a voodoo doll of this team stuck under the shoe that he uses to step in dog poo, which might explain why they have had such a crap run.

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Sure, it’s never easy to start a team from scratch, but it’s not like this is their first go.

What was that Einstein said about insanity?

The GC have changed their name so much I have lost track, but their results have never really been spectacular no matter which name they use.

It’s quite confusing because they should be great. They should be the big rival to the Ponies, they should be a massive entity in the NRL, they should be so many things.

The problem is they needed to build their stadium on the beach, and have it turn into a nightclub promoting ladies’ night immediately after the game has finished.

Instead they built it in the middle of nowhere industrial section and made their team dress in teal.

The most exciting thing to happen to the GC in recent years was when they implemented Hayne TV (remember that?)

However, even people from QLD are smart enough to eventually realise that watching Jarryd pick his nose for 95 per cent of the game while dreaming of his next big move was not riveting viewing.

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I want to see this team succeed, but really could care less if they fold which rather sad really.

Konrad Hurrell

Konrad Hurrell of the Titans. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

So that’s where we stand going into season 20. There are definite divides between the clubs which shows in their positions.

Storm-Broncos-Roosters are clearly the best teams of the modern era, with the Storm an amazing 16 points in front.

If they didn’t have that enforced spoon they would be in even clearer air.

Sea Eagles-Bulldogs-Dragons are the next group who have stayed pretty consistently in this position.

Sharks-Cowboys-Panthers-Raiders-Warriors-Knights-Eels-Rabbits-Tigers are all relatively tightly bunched.

These teams swap position among themselves regularly through the years.

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Titans are clearly last, However as I stated at the beginning, they didn’t join until 2007 and were given an average score for those seven seasons.

At best, they may have been able to join the bottom of the preceding pack, at worst they just stay last.

Like I said, this is something I do for my own entertainment, I just thought others might find it interesting.

Up, up.

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