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How each finals team stacks up against each other




Melbourne have an unrivalled history of playoff success in the NRL era but their record against other top-eight teams this year suggests they will not go deep into the finals series.

The Storm have the worst record out of the post-season teams this year from matches involving those eight clubs.

They have become the flat-track bullies of the NRL, as opposed to the “flat on their back bully” which Nelson Asofa-Solomona has become with his cheap shots on Wayde Egan and Joseph Suaalii when they’ve been flat on their backs.

Craig Bellamy’s team has won just five of 13 clashes with their fellow finalists, capped off by their 22-14 loss to Parramatta at CommBank Stadium on Thursday which surrendered fourth spot to the Eels, sending the Storm straight into the sudden-death half of the playoff bracket.

They are averaging 19.9 points in games against the other contenders and 26.7 against. 

In games against the bottom eight this season, they went 10-1 with their only loss to an also-ran team coming in Round 16 when they lost 36-30 to Manly.

They averaged 39.9 for and 14.8 against when they took on the teams that ultimately missed the playoffs.

Storm’s record vs big guns and also rans

Storm vs top 8 teams vs bottom 8 teams
Record 5-8 10-1
For 19.9 26.7
Against 39.9 14.8

Since the 2010 season when they finished last as part of their salary cap rort sanctions, this is only the second time they have finished outside the top four after their sixth-placing in 2014. 

They had secured a top-two berth for the past five seasons so having to start the finals in fifth is foreign territory. 

The Storm have done remarkably well to overcome the mid-year loss of star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen as well as the earlier blows that ended the season after just one round for Maroons prop Christian Welch (Achilles) and winger George Jennings (knee).

Jahrome Hughes, Felise Kaufusi, Xavier Coates, Brandon Smith and Tui Kamikamica have been in and out of the line-up for various reasons so it’s a testament to Bellamy’s ability that they’ve still managed to finish as high as fifth.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy put on a brave face after the loss to Parra by saying that even though no team had won the title from the bottom half of the finals in the NRL era that someone would eventually break that record. “To win the comp, you have to win four games in a row, and the last three of them you’re travelling,” Bellamy said. “It is difficult without a doubt, but it’s going to get done at some stage.”

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 19: Tui Kamikamica of the Storm is congratulated by team mates after scoring a try during the round 23 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium, on August 19, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Second-placed Cronulla’s title credentials are also deserving of scrutiny after they went 4-5 in matches this season against the other finals sides, which includes two losses to eighth-placed Cronulla.

The Cowboys went 5-5 although one of those wins was their Round 25 cakewalk against a severely depleted Penrith side, with two of their other four over the Raiders.

Penrith won nine of their 13 clashes after virtually conceding last Saturday’s result by resting a dozen top-liners before the finals.

The only other team to win more than they lost against the top eight was Parramatta, who will face the Panthers in their qualifying final, who they beat twice during the regular season. 

How each finals team has gone against top-eight opponents

Team Record v top 8 teams Average for Avergage against
Panthers 9-4 21.9 15.5
Sharks 4-5 18.4 22
Cowboys 5-5 23.5 17.6
Eels 6-5 19.6 22.1
Storm 5-8 16.9 22.6
Roosters 6-6 22.1 22.9
Rabbitohs 5-6 21.3 17.8
Raiders 5-6 17.6 21.5

In their 11 matches against top-eight outfits, the Eels were victorious six times although they copped heavy defeats to North Queensland (35-4 in Round 8) and Souths (26-0 in Round 22) along the way.

As they try to break the club’s 36-year premiership drought, the Eels will need to upset the Panthers to progress straight to a preliminary final or if they lose, they will play the winner of the Storm vs Raiders eliminator. 

Canberra and Melbourne split their head-to-head contests with the Storm winning 30-16 at Wagga Wagga in Round 5 before the Raiders upset them 20-16 at AAMI Park in Round 18 in the match which ended Papenhuyzen’s season early when his kneecap was fractured in a collision with Jack Wighton.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The loser of the Sharks vs Cowboys game will face the Roosters or Rabbitohs in the semi-final stage. 

Cronulla enjoyed a 26-12 victory over Todd Payten’s team in Townsville in Round 18 in their only meeting of 2022. 

For the oldest rivals in rugby league, South Sydney got early bragging rights on their 1908 foes with a 28-16 triumph in Round 3 but the Roosters exacted revenge last Friday 26-16 to both reopen the new Allianz Stadium and book it again for the elimination final against the same opposition.





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