The season sure seems to have gone rather quickly since the resumption of competition. With just 2 games remaining there are a number of teams jostling for those coveted final spots.
What is this year’s finals format?
The top 4 teams from each night will make their respective conference finals where it will be 1 V 4 and 2 V 3 in elimination games. The 2 winners will then play off for the conference champion. The winner of each conference final (Monday and Tuesday night) will then play off in the grand final for ultimate glory and the coveted championship ring (this should be a real thing in Super-league).
Just like last season’s format, teams that are equal on wins will be ranked according to the results of their head-to-head matches during the season. If team A and team B both end on equal wins but Team A defeated team B during the season, Team A will finish higher on the ladder. These head-to-head matchups could very well determine who misses out on finals as we will discuss later.
Percentage will be a factor if there are multiple teams on the same wins who all share a head-to-head advantage. Consider the following scenario:
Three teams all finish on the same number of wins.
During the season:
Team A defeated Team B
Team B defeated Team C
Team C defeated Team A
In this instance % would determine the final ladder finishing position.
Without further ado, let’s look at the scenario facing each team.
Monday night Conference
The Monday night conference is going to go down to the wire with a logjam of teams competing for the final 3 spots and only 1 team (Crocs) having secured a finals birth. 4 teams are currently tied on 5 wins with the Camels just 1 win off the pace.
Toucans vs Crocs
Dragons vs Kraken
Koalas vs Camels
Blazers vs Bears
Dragons vs Camels
Toucans vs Kraken
Koalas vs Blazers
Crocs vs Bears
Unfortunately for the Kraken their season ended 2 weeks ago when they got thumped by the Camels. They are playing for pride this week against the Dragons in a match that may well determine the wooden spoon. Even if the Kraken win their final 2 games, they will not be able to sneak into the top 4 due to them losing the head-to-head against too many of their competitors. They do however get a chance to end the Toucans season in their final round matchup.
Like the Kraken, the Dragons are now making up the numbers and trying to avoid the wooden spoon. Winning next week vs the Kraken will certainly help in this mission. Even better however would be to win by at least 10 points. That would give them the head-to-head over the Kraken should both teams finish the season on 4 wins.
The Camels currently have the head-to-head advantage over 3 other teams jostling for a finals place (Koalas, Bears and Blazers). This gives them a chance to sneak into the top 4 but will firstly need to
ensure they win both of their remaining games. Even then they would still be relying on other results to fall their way.
Their first job is to take care of the Koalas this week. Lose that and its season over.
Out of all the teams on 5 wins, the Toucans are well placed to make finals thanks to their head-to-head advantage over the Koalas and the Blazers. They do however have to win at least 1 of their remaining games and ideally 2. Next weeks match up against the Crocs will pose a strong challenge. If they win it however, they will prove they are worthy of finals. For the Toucans destiny is in their own hands. If they win both remaining games, they will make finals.
With 7 wins guaranteeing a finals spot the Koalas will make finals if they win both of their remaining games. Their final round game against the Blazers could end up being their fate. Like the Toucans it is possible they make finals with only 1 win, but they only have head-to-head advantage over the Blazers should they tie on 6 wins with multiple teams.
Also currently on 5 wins, the Blazers can make finals by simply ensuring they win their remaining matches. Their final 2 games are against direct competitors for a finals spot meaning the results of their games will shape the 4 more so than any other team. Whilst they could make finals winning only 1 remaining match, that would rely on other results falling their way.
The Bears have a tough run home taking on the Blazers and the Crocs. If they beat the Blazers, they could potentially make finals even if they lost their final round matchup thanks to their head-to-head advantage against the Koalas and the Toucans. Ideally however, they win both their remaining games to ensure destiny is in their own hands.
The Crocs are the only team on Monday nights to have guaranteed a finals birth. They will still have a big say in shaping the top 4 however taking on 2 teams who are competing in the logjam between 2nd and 5th place.
Tuesday night Conference
Unlike the Monday night conference, the Tuesday night competition is really only a race between 5 teams with the Reapers the only team capable of forcing their way into a top 4 position come seasons end. The magical number for the Tuesday night Conference is 9 points. If the Reapers can beat the Unicorns by more than 9 next week the Conference will be thrown wide open. If the Reapers however can’t win by at least 9 the finalists will already be decided.
Bucks vs Penguins
Bulldogs Vs Ducks
Unicorns vs Reapers
Tornadoes Vs Mambas
Bulldogs vs Reapers
Bucks vs Ducks
Unicorns vs Tornadoes
Penguins vs Mambas
Unfortunately for the Tornadoes, they have won the wooden spoon and are now just playing for pride. They can however have an impact on the top 4 when they take on the Unicorns in the final round. A win here could potentially stop the Unicorns from making the finals. The Tornadoes had a perfect opportunity to get their first win against the Kraken last game but unfortunately fell just short yet again.
Their season started with such promise when they absolutely spanked the pants off the Cranbourne Bucks. Since then, however wins have been few and far between. Their roster has completely changed since their first-round line-up so it will be interesting to see if they can ruin the finals chances of the Bucks again when the teams match up for the second time next week. The Penguins final match up against the Mambas will determine who finishes second last.
The Mambas have missed out on finals and do not play any teams vying for a finals birth making them the most irrelevant team in Super League in the final 2 rounds. They will be hoping to finish on a high in what has been an otherwise underwhelming season.
The Reapers are well and truly in the hunt for a place in the finals but will need to ensure they win both their remaining games to give them a chance. Unfortunately, they have one of the hardest draws in the league, having to play the Bulldogs (who they are the only team to have defeated) a 2nd time as well as the Unicorns.
They also lost during the season to the Ducks, Bucks and Unicorns making their situation even more tenuous. They will want to defeat the Unicorns this week by 10 points or more to take back head-to-head advantage against the Unicorns. In all likelihood however, the Reapers are relying on either the Bucks or Ducks to lose both of their remaining games. The Bucks meet the Ducks in the final round making for a very interesting match should the Reapers beat the Unicorns this week.
There is also the slight possibility of 3 teams finishing the season on 7 wins and all sharing the head-to-head advantage. This would result in % deciding which teams make the finals. This scenario could occur if:
1. The Reapers defeat the Unicorns by more than 9 points.
2. The Reapers defeat the Bulldogs.
3. The Bucks lose to the Ducks
4. The Bucks defeat the Penguins.
In this scenario the Reapers, Unicorns and Bucks will all finish the season on 7 wins with:
Reapers holding head-to-head advantage over the Unicorns
Bucks holding head-to-head over the Reapers
Unicorns holding head-to-head over the Bucks
The situation is simple for the Ducks. If the Ducks defeat the Bucks, they will make finals. This is due to the fact they will have head-to-head advantage over the Reapers and the Bucks (If they defeat the Bucks by 1 point, they will share the head to head advantage with the Bucks which would also be enough).
Of course, winning both remaining games will also ensure they make finals and will finish higher.
You would assume the Unicorns will be able to account for the Tornadoes which could be enough for them to make finals, due to the fact the Bucks and Ducks are facing off in the final round. As mentioned during the Reapers write up, the Unicorns currently hold head-to-head over the Reapers
so they could afford to lose to the Reapers by less than 9 points and still make finals. The Unicorns can still finish as high as 2nd should they manage to win both remaining games.
The Bucks will be looking for revenge against the Penguins after being embarrassed in the opening round. Like all the other team jostling for position, 2 wins will guarantee them finals. 1 win will make finals likely, but it all depends on whether the Reapers can beat the Unicorns by more than 9 points.
The Bulldogs are the only Tuesday night team to be guaranteed to play in the finals. Whilst mathematically possible it would take a miracle for the Bulldogs to not finish on top of the ladder.
It promises to be a big week in Super-League.
This week matches to watch are:
Camels Vs Koalas – Monday night
Unicorns vs Reapers - Tuesday night
Let’s hope that a few results this week make things interesting heading into the final round.