The top four teams in the Telstra 2018 NRL Premiership competition all finished on 34 points.
The Sydney Roosters came out on top, replacing the Melbourne Storm and claiming the minor premiership. Each club won 16 and lost eight. In the end, the point differential between Sydney and Melbourne was eight points. The Roosters scored six more and allowed two fewer.
Talk about close.
It almost makes it seem as the clubs that finished three and four, the Rabbitohs and the Sharks got there by sheer luck. The two clubs had the 34 premiership points, yes. They won and lost the same number of games as the top two, yes. The ‘Tohs 145-point differential and the 96 of the Sharks almost seem meagre next to the Storm and the Roosters.
Recent form would tend to favour the Sharks. They won four of their last five. The Rabbitohs and Storm were almost average to end the season, with both clubs winning two and losing three to end the season.
Even the Roosters finished with three wins and two losses.
The other four teams to make it to finals, the Penrith Panthers, Brisbane Broncos, St. George Illawarra Dragons and New Zealand Warriors, all finished on 32 points. Al four clubs won 15 and lost nine during the regular fixture.
Like the Sharks, the Warriors finished the season strong to secure the number eight position by winning four and losing just one.
It was though there was a precipice behind the Warriors, as the next team, Wests Tigers, were well back.
This parity that permeated the NRL in 2018 almost seemed like a double dose. Looking at some of the statistics, it almost seems as though the season was drawn up in advance to maintain keen supporter interest.
There is a lot of football to be played between now and when the premiers are determined, but it should be football of a calibre not always as obvious as it is this year.