Having lost four of their opening seven games in Super League XV, should Leeds be worried about their chances of getting to the Grand Final again?
Some fans are saying that Leeds always start slowly, and come good at the ‘business end’ of the season, but for the last two seasons Leeds have made it to the Grand Final – and won it – having only lost six games all year. If Leeds are going to emulate that achievement this year, they can only lose another two games in their remaining 20.
To contest the final, the average amount of games lost (in the regular season) by eventual Grand Finalists (winners and runners-up) is a miserly 5.3, although that has risen to 6.0 since 2005.
The most games a team has ever lost in a season, and still won the Grand Final is nine – a feat managed only by Bradford, when they went on to beat Leeds in 2005. Other than that, Leeds themselves won the competition in 2007, after losing eight regular season games. Even to match that revised target this season, would mean Leeds winning – or at least not losing – 16 out of the last 20 matches.
19 wins out of 27 weekly rounds could be a good enough record to get them to the final, but it is rarely the record of champions. In fact, only on those two occasions mentioned has a team won the competition after losing more than seven games prior to the play-offs.
Incidentally, the least number of games lost by a team going on to win the Grand Final, is two. That feat was achieved by Wigan, in winning the first ever Grand Final 1998, and again by Leeds in 2004. Wigan however, did it in a season of only 23 games, whereas Leeds played 28 weekly rounds.