Attack VS Defence

There is an age old debate in sporting circles that has to do with attack and defence. People will rage and argue that defence wins championships. You might be from the camp of the best defence is a good offense.

This NRL finals series won’t settle the debate, but boy does it make for some great debate. A good debate should not only be based on emotion and gut feel but also have some figures thrown in for good measure. That’s is where the attack defence model that I will talk about comes into play.

Looking at the four teams left we can see the ratings as follows:

Explanations of ratings


Away team on average gets 18 pts (based on average points conceded)

So the Away team would be 18+ away team attack -home team defence

Home team gets 22 if playing interstate team, else 20 (two teams from same state i.e. roosters vs rabbits)

Based on this rating system, this is arguably the most competitive season to date, the first season where there are 3 teams with a rating of 7+. This has only happened to 8 teams in the previous 9 years.

But all of that is a bit meaningless right? Just numbers no context but lets put it into a bit of historical context. Since 07 using this exact same model tuning parameters in the exact same way the top rated team has won the premiership in 8/9 years. Based on this fact we can infer that the model is solid and we can make some inferences from it. Looking at just the question of does the best attack win? Well in only 3 of the past 9 years they have. Compared this to defence which is sitting at 5 of the past 9 (these both include the Storm team of 07). Based off this we would say defence has a slight edge over attack.

But the best defence is a good offence and never before has a case study presented itself like this years Canberra Raiders. The Vikings from the nation’s capital have the best offensive rating since the 08 Sea Eagles. I haven’t seen a defence in the last 9 years be as weak (rating wise) and come up with the chocolates. The counter argument to the best defence is attack, is the Melbourne storm. Led by Cameron and the master Bellamy they are the complete flip of the Raiders, a great defence paired with a relatively poor offence if one of these two teams wins you can almost rest your case in the attack vs defence debate.

But what about the Cowboys? The Thurston led reigning premiers provide the balance argument to this debate that you can’t just can’t trust yourself to score more than the opposition and that you just can strangle your opponent and edge yourself over the line. You have to be able to do both and this years Cowboys look like they are capable of both. This years Cowboys have a great mix between offence and defence having a slight edge in the overall ratings but in between the Raiders offence and Storm defence.

What about the Sharks, we are seeing the best Sharks team in 10 years and the boys from the shire play with heart. But they are having their best year ratings wise unfortunately for Sharks fans when the competition is at its strongest in the past 9 years.Based on this ratings system the only thing that might be going for them is the weeks break combined with the home city advantage mean that we give them a handicap of just 1.5 this week even though they are the only non 7+ team left.

We can see how our preliminary finalists have performed throughout the year. This also helps shape another debate, is it better to be consistent throughout the year, or on the rise during finals time?

We can see that the Raiders are the form team while Melbourne have just been consistent throughout the year.

Tips for the week:

Cronulla lose by a point

Melbourne win by 6