Saturday, 30 September 2017

The NRL Winners : 2017

The NRL season has ended and the dust has settled. How did the top eight teams stack up for the year of 2017? I'll give my tuppence worth.

8th - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. They came 6th in the league and went straight out once the finals. They looked good on paper but were unconvincing on grass. The sooner the coach gets out of his intense mentality and relaxes a bit, maybe the team will do likewise.

7th - Penrith Panthers. 7th in the league was about right for this team and winning the first finals match 22-10 against Manly was a good result. Going out in the next round wasn't a surprise but they fought gallantly. They also made the final of the Nine's tournament.

6th - Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. Last year's grand final winners were not as good and ended up lower that I would have thought. The potential wasn't matched by results when they finished 5th in the league and out in the first round of finals. Losing to battling North Queensland 14-15 in extra time gave them the nod over Penrith.

5th - Brisbane Broncos. Coming 3rd in the league and being one game away from the grand final was a strong result but they didn't impress me in the finals, getting what I though was a soft run. The 0-30 thumping in the last match against the Melbourne Storm showed where they were at the season's conclusion.

4th - Parramatta Eels. A top four finish (4th) showed this side had some ticker. They only made it to the second round of the finals but losing to a deceptively good North Queensland 16-24 was no disgrace. I think they were better than Brisbane during the playoffs.

3rd - Sydney Roosters. 2nd in the league and a semi final against a 'backs to the wall' North Queensland (playing at home too), must have looked like an ideal scenario. Somehow it didn't pan out as expected. They didn't have the spark needed to put the game away and late points made the 16-29 scoreline look ugly. They also took out the Nine's tournament.

2nd - North Queensland Cowboys. Coming 8th in the league and without their star play maker looked like a recipe for disaster. The team proved the pundits and me wrong. They fought through the finals series to the grand final and impressed doing it.

1st - Melbourne Storm. What can you say about this club except it is the best run club in the sport. With a limited player pool in Victoria hasn't stopped them recruiting and preparing young players to do the business when called upon. 1st in the league and into the grand final.

Summary: I put this together before the grand final because it is how I see the year regardless of who takes the grand final trophy. No one would begrudge the Storm as the best team in the competition.

PS. The 2017 Losers article can be viewed by clicking here.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Queensland State Championship : 1996-99

Back in 1982, a shorter version of a statewide competition for the whole state of Queensland was inaugurated that covered part of the season. Then in 1996, it was expanded to cover the whole season. The initial years were a settling down period as some teams came and went but a solid core of clubs became the backbone of the setup. The number of teams participating fluctuated in these early years - 16, 14, 16 then 12 in '99.

1996: The country town of Toowoomba won the league with 23 points, narrowly ahead of Brisbane side Redcliffe with (22) with two more Brisbane sides Souths and Wests on 21 points. In the grand final Redcliffe was pipped at the post again, with the Toowwomba Clydesdales taking that out also with an 8-6 score line.

1997: The top three in the league this year were from Brisbane. Wynnum-Manly achieved 29 points, ahead of Redcliffe (28) and Easts (27). Burleigh Bears from the Gold Coast also had 27 points. In the grand final, the Redcliffe Dolphins took the title at the expense of the Easts Tigers 18-16.

1998: This time the top four were all from Brisbane, with Norths (33) ahead of Brothers, Tigers and Dolphins all on 32 points. Norths made it a double when overcoming the Tigers 35-16 in the grand final.

1999: Redcliffe took out the league with 35 points, while Norths closely followed (34) then the Bears (33). The grand final featured Burleigh and Redcliffe, the former taking the big prize 12-10.

Summary: By applying points to the results, it soon becomes clear that the Dolphins were the most successful team by far. They only took two of the eight trophies up for grabs but consistency was the big difference. The Panthers didn't win anything but came second, again being consistent. The Devils did the double for the league round and grand final in 1998 but were let down in other years.

The statewide competition was underway for the full season and after four years, Brisbane sides dominated. How would it develop from here? For 2000-03, please lick here.

Year '99 '98 '97 '96
Rk Team TOT Rd Fls Tot Rd Fls Tot Rd Fls Tot Rd Fls Tot

1 Redcliffe Dolphins 134 20 16 36 14 12 26 18 20 38 18 16 34
2 Wests Panthers 93 11
11 16 16 32 12 12 24 14 12 26
3 Norths Devils 88 18 12 30 20 20 40 10
10 8
4 Easts Tigers 71 12 4 16 8
8 16 16 32 11 4 15
4 Toowoomba Clyd 71 14 8 22 2
2 7
7 20 20 40
6 Burleigh Bears 63 16 20 36 9
9 14 4 18

7 Wynnum Manly 59 8
8 11 2 13 20 8 28 10
8 Pine Rivers B'thers 40

18 8 26 5
5 9
9 Souths Magpies 38 5
5 3
3 6
6 16 8 24
9 Cairns Cyclones 38 9
9 7
7 8
8 12 2 14
11 Central Q'sland 31 6
6 6
6 11 2 13 6
12 Logan Scorpions 21 10
10 5
5 3
3 3
13 Ipswich Jets 16 7
7 4
4 4
4 1
14 Port Moresby 16

9 7
14 Gold Coast Viking 16

12 4 16

16 Townsville Stinger 10


17 Mackay Cutters 5

17 Bundaberg Grizz 5


19 Sunshine Coast 2


Total 817 136 60 196 146 62 208 143 62 205 146 62 208

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

International European 9's (if only)

Something should be done to promote RL for the RLEF members. Cost and scheduling is always an issue. How about 9's? If it could be done over one weekend each year, that shouldn't be too much should it? So here is an idea. Divide it into two divisions of 12 teams each. They could all play in one venue with a carnival atmosphere.

If games went 15 minutes each and allowing a minute to change ends and four minutes for occasional injury stoppages and the next game commencing, that would mean 3 games per hour. That would give plenty of time for all the games and finals.

So what would be the groups? To start 24 teams are automatically selected and divided into three team groups. Each team plays each other once within its group. Three matches per group = 24 games. Then a playoff system where a winner for each division is found. Two teams are promoted and two relegated between divisions.

Future nations wishing to join may do so but that would have to be assessed whether nations should drop out of division 2 and be replaced or the participant number expanded. Costs and popularity of the event would dictate that. So here are two hypothetical divisions put together.

1st Division
2nd Division

Group 1

Group 1

1 England
1 Spain

2 Canada
2 Sweden

3 Russia
3 Czech Rep

Group 2

Group 2

1 France
1 Germany

2 Italy
2 Jamaica

3 Belgium
3 Netherlands

Group 3

Group 3

1 Ireland
1 Ukraine

2 Serbia
2 Norway

3 Malta
3 Hungary

Group 4

Group 4

1 Wales
1 Greece

2 Scotland
2 Denmark

3 Lebanon
3 Poland

Depending how it was done, the whole event could be held over one or two days. It would give minor nations something to aim for and test themselves against similar level of opponent. It would be good publicity and as it moved to different locations, give the public a chance to enjoy RL in a carnival, fun atmosphere. It sounds the sort of thing that would be too hard for the game to execute. Oh well.