It’s been a good few weeks if you’re a Tigers Fan. We’ve won four of our last six games, and have consolidated well given the slump we found ourselves in our Round 8 thumping by the Raiders. Mitch Moses came out on the weekend stating “We know we can match it with anyone…we just need to be more consistent. Our goal is to make the Top 8”. This year would be our fifth year without a finals appearance, and would be a welcome development to us all, I’m sure. Given our inconsistency this year though, you have to ask – Is it achievable? Is it even possible?
I thought it would be a good time to evaluate the chances of the teams competing for the remaining 4 spots in the Top 8, and the run home after the finals. To know our own chances, we have to also understand the teams around us. The analysis that follows is very stats heavy, so if you’re not about the stats life, have a look at the summary paragraph for my conclusion. Before we get into it, I’ll state some caveats here:
- While currently 5th, I have assumed that Parramatta will be excluded from finals contention after having their points stripped. This obviously may change, but it’s the call I’ve made.
- Despite excluding Parra from the race, I’ve treated them as a Top 8 opponent given their ladder position currently and wins this year.
- Newcastle are no chance.
- I assume the Top 4 is locked. Even if 4th slips to 5th, I doubt any of them fall out of contention altogether.
This left ten teams. You can see a snapshot of the statistics that I evaluated below. Wins and losses were broken up into Home and Away records, Top and Bottom 8 teams. The remaining games were mapped out into these categories, and from that, I have established a degree of difficulty for each team and their run into the finals. I’ve not gone as far as predicting actual number of wins, but utilised the statistics for 2016 so far to try and map the chances of each team. As this is BWTF, I’ll keep the analysis with a WT slant and summarise my findings for other teams.
The teams with the hardest runs home of the possible teams is the Roosters, followed by the Rabbitohs. They both have nine games left against Top 8 opponents, and both feature an incredibly poor win record against Top 8 teams so far, with 0% and 25% respectively. Barring any significant miracle run of events, these teams will not participate in finals football.
The Bulldogs and Warriors have the most favourable runs home, with only 4 and 5 games left against Top 8 opponents, and reasonable enough win records against them of 29%. It should be noted that given how ‘top heavy’ the table is this year, 43% is the best Win percentage of any team in contention against Top 8 teams, which is held by the Raiders. Both the Bulldogs and Warriors have a great win percentage against Bottom 8 teams. With these factors combined, I think both these teams go around 5th and 6th respectively. This assumes of course that Warriors don’t have some sort of brain explosion and decide to give up on their season (always a possibility with NZ).
The Sea Eagles have got a slightly more favourable draw than us, however have a horrible win record of 13% against Top 8 Teams, and 14% at Home this year. With 6 games against Top 8 opponents remaining, and their devastating injury toll, I think they run out of steam and settle in around 13th pace.
This leaves Penrith, the Raiders, Dragons, Titans and Wests Tigers fighting it out for 7th and 8th spot. The Raiders and Penrith have the best and second best record against Top 8 teams. Penrith have the slight edge as far as away win percentage goes, but it is rather hard to distinguish who will finish ahead of the other team. Removing the Penrith Biscuit Bias, I find it hard to say that either of these teams will miss the Top 8 as it stands.
This leaves Dragons, the Titans and Wests Tigers. The Titans have a reasonable win record both at and away from home this year, but the struggle for them comes in their 25% win record against Top 8 teams, which is less than Penrith and Canberra. They only have one game left at home against a Bottom 8 team. The Dragons have a sensational 83% win record at Home, but have got a shocking 14% Away record and with 5 games left against Top 8 teams at 33%, it will be touch and go.
WT face an uphill battle based on the statistics. 7 of the remaining 10 games are against Teams currently in the Top 8. It is worth clarifying that 4 of these games are against the Warriors, Penrith (twice) and Canberra at Leichhardt (potentially a Robbie Farahwell???? Puns are great). But with just a 17% win ratio against Top 8 teams, it will be a hard slog.
Are we in with a chance at all?
Funnily enough, the position of the team looks far more encouraging when you account for remaining byes left and current record. After accounting for byes, there’s a five way log jam with teams on 16 points. With the Dragons having a worse F/A, we jump above them a touch.
In previous years, 28 points has been the needed standard to make the finals. I do think that given the Top 4 heavy nature of the competition this year, it may be possible that 8th place gets in on 26 points, which would help us out. However, given our F/A you would not want to be counting on that. In order to make the finals, WT really need to be winning 6 of their last 10 games and while I’ll always be hopeful, I’m just not sure it’s there this year.
Final Prediction: We will rue the games in the season that really should have been won. Finish 11th, on 26 points.
Summary – Predicted Mini Ladder: