Incomplete sets are a nightmare for NRL coaches and wasteful play is just as frustrating.
The competition’s elite clearly pride themselves on completing as many tackles per set as possible, a statistic which is usually reflected in their lofty position on the ladder.
But counting incomplete sets doesn’t tell the full story. Some teams make most of their mistakes on the fifth tackle, meaning they nearly complete the set and have wasted just one play in that set.
Other teams regularly make errors earlier in the tackle count, meaning they have wasted more potential plays. If a team makes an error on the first tackle, they have wasted four more plays than a fifth tackle error.
This ‘wasted plays’ statistic gives us a more complete picture of which teams are the most wasteful – but there’s a surprise team that has racked up the most ‘wasted plays’ this season!
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Foxsports.com.au has analysed the NRL’s most wasteful teams, defined by their average number of wasted plays per game.
16. EELS — 23.64 per game
The Eels have recorded the fewest incomplete sets of any team in the competition and average only 6.79 per game so far in 2022.
Across the club’s 14 games they are most likely to make errors on the third and fourth tackles and have the least wasted plays by a significant margin.
Brad Arthur’s side have wasted just 331 plays, with the next best being the Knights with only 376.
Per game the Parramatta side average only 23.64 wasted plays with Mitch Moses and Dylan Brown steering the ship.
15. PANTHERS — 25.87 per game
No surprises here — the team sitting on top of the ladder are an efficient machine.
The Panthers average 7.4 incomplete sets per game and have wasted 388 plays, more than only the Eels, Storm and Knights.
But, overall they average only 25.87 per game to sit in 15th place thanks to the skills of Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary.
Interestingly, the Panthers have made errors consistently on their fourth tackle, handing possession over 29 times, eight more than their second tackle count of 21.
This might highlight their willingness to take risks at this stage of a set, rather than wait for a fifth tackle.
14. STORM — 26.21 per game
The Storm record 7.64 incomplete sets per game and have the second least wasted plays with 376, thanks to the star trio of Harry Grant, Cameron Munster and Jahrome Hughes.
Craig Bellamy’s side have a reputation of being ruthless in attack and it clearly shows, sitting 14th for wasted plays per game with 26.21.
The Melbourne side also have the third most errors on fifth tackle plays with 21 this season, a number exceeded only by the Dragons and Rabbitohs.
Once the Storm get their full-strength spine back to full fitness, expect their wasted plays to decrease even further.
13. KNIGHTS — 26.86 per game
The Knights record 26.86 wasted plays per game to sit in 13th place, a surprising statistic considering their position on the competition ladder.
Adam O’Brien’s side sit in 12th place with only four wins, but are statistically clinical when it comes to completing their sets.
The Newcastle side have the third least amount of wasted plays but have scored the lowest amount of total points, behind the Tigers 196.
The Knights have also made the most errors on the fourth tackle of any team in the NRL.
12. COWBOYS — 27.80 per game
The Cowboys have improved by leaps and bounds in 2022 after boasting one of the competition’s worst attacks in 2021.
Now, the North Queensland side are a far more efficient offensive unit and sit in 14th for total wasted plays per game with 27.80.
The Cowboys also record only 7.8 incomplete sets per game and have totalled 117 thanks to the introduction of playmaking maestro Chad Townsend.
But, Todd Payten’s men aren’t afraid to throw the ball around, hence their position but still remain an efficient force in attack.
11. TIGERS — 27.86 per game
The Tigers’ position on this list could be a surprise to many, but with the halves pairing of Luke Brooks and Jackson Hastings, the side often make it to the last play.
The merger club have totalled 108 incomplete sets, averaging 7.71 per game, while only averaging 27.86 wasted plays per game.
While these statistics remain strong, they don’t translate into attacking performance, currently sitting in last place for total points scored.
Brett Kimmorley will be desperately hoping to unlock some attacking flair in weeks to come.
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10. SEA EAGLES — 28.27 per game
Des Hasler’s side have the third least amount of incomplete sets and record only 7.27 per game, with star playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans using his experience to finish the tackle count for his side.
Meanwhile, per game they waste 28.27 plays and have wasted a total of 424 plays across the 2022 season.
The Sea Eagles have scored more points than three of the top eight, currently sitting 10th on the competition ladder.
Manly have tallied 320 points while still remaining efficient and sitting low for total wasted plays.
9. BRONCOS — 28.36 per game
The Broncos have played an expansive style of football in 2022, hence their position on the competition ladder compared to their total wasted plays.
The Broncos sit in fifth but waste 28.36 plays for game, totalling 397 so far this year.
Interestingly, Kevin Walters side have made 20 errors on tackle zero, tackle two, tackle three and tackle four.
8. DRAGONS — 30.14 per game
The Dragons sit high for total incomplete sets, recording 9.07 per game, with only three teams totalling more.
Meanwhile, the St George Illawarra club have tallied 422 wasted plays, recording 30.14 per game — the first team on this list to break the 30 mark.
Their position on this ladder is the same as their position on the competition ladder, currently sitting in the last finals spot coming into Round 16.
7. TITANS — 30.80 per game
The Titans have struggled in attack in 2022 — sitting last on the competition ladder with only three wins.
In relation to their last place, seventh in this list is surprising, wasting 30.8 plays per game for a total of 462.
But Justin Holbrook’s side benefit from Toby Sexton’s smart kicking game and have recorded only 122 incomplete sets.
An even strong indicator of his strong kicking presence is their minimal last play errors, having the second least in the competition with only 9.
6. RAIDERS — 32.40 per game
Ricky Stuart’s men had a poor start to the 2022 season but have been on the improve in recent weeks.
Jamal Fogarty’s inclusion will be a big one and will likely reduce the Raiders 32.4 wasted plays per game.
The team from the nation’s capital will likely reduce their nine incomplete sets per game, when Jack Wighton and Fogarty forge their halves partnership and the Raiders get on a roll.
5. BULLDOGS — 32.60 per game
The Bulldogs have been electric in their past two games, but their attacking output to begin the year was clunky, leading them to have 32.60 wasted plays per game.
Matt Burton has found his groove in the halves and will look to reduce his sides 8.8 incomplete sets per game.
Meanwhile, the Buldlogs have the second most zero tackle errors which immediately swing momentum back in their opposition’s favour.
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4. WARRIORS — 32.73 per game
The Warriors attack has been poor in 2022, resulting in the club’s 32.73 wasted plays per game.
Now the Warriors will make a timely return to New Zealand and improvement is expected after spending an extended period in a makeshift Redcliffe base.
The Warriors stunted attack is highlighted in their fourth tackle error count.
30 times Stacey Jones’ side have made an error on the fourth tackle, right when teams need to penetrate the line or force a repeat set.
3. ROOSTERS — 33.20 per game
The Roosters haven’t reached their lofty standards in 2022.
Many tipped them to be premiership contenders but now they have the third most wasted plays in the competition with 33.20 per game.
Luke Keary and Sam Walker have largely failed to gel and the Roosters attacked has been clunky.
Trent Robinson will be desperately hoping one of his playmakers can take the reins, with the club recording the second most number of incomplete sets with 143.
2. SHARKS — 33.36 per game
Surprisingly, the Sharks have been impressive this season.
When looking at these stats, it may be hard to believe the Cronulla side sit in fourth place after 15 completed rounds.
But there is always room for improvement and the Sharks handling errors and lack of final play efficiency are clear.
Craig Fitzgibbon’s side record 33.36 wasted plays per game and also have the second highest number of incomplete sets per game with 9.64.
1. RABBITOHS — 36.29 per game
After their 2021 heroics, many wouldn’t believe the Rabbitohs have failed to fire a shot in 2022.
The loss of Adam Reynolds is clearly hurting Jason Demetriou’s side who clearly lack direction in finishing off sets, recording a league-high 10.79 incomplete sets per game.
Lachlan Ilias has been tasked with picking up the slack and the rookie has been solid, but overall as a team the Rabbitohs have been sub-par.
The Redfern club has recorded the most wasted plays with 508, averaging 36.29 per game.