If ever the Claytons Cup, the most prestigious team award in all of Country Rugby League, was to be jointly granted to two clubs from the same competition, it would be this year.
This Sunday at Victoria Park, Picton the Camden Rams and Picton Magpies will do battle in the major semi-final, to determine who will progress straight to the Grand Final in 2 weeks’ time. Without being disrespectful to the other two teams left, the Narellan Jets and The Oaks Tigers, it’s nigh on impossible to imagine this weekends’ clash of the Titans being anything but a dress rehearsal for the main game of the season.
It’s doubtful that anyone around Group 6 has ever seen a single team dominate the local competition the way these two heavyweights have this season.
A quick look at the competition ladder shows the magnitude of the gulf between teams 1 and 2 and the rest.
Having finished the season with only 1 loss each (to each other) and with a for and against more than 500 points better than the 3rd placed Narellan Jets (the only other team to finish with a positive +/-), the two sides shared top billing at Seasons end. Camden claimed the minor premiership due to a slightly more impressive for and against, giving them week 1 of the semi-finals off, last weekend.
If there was any doubt as to the dominance of these two it was quickly disregarded when Picton trounced Narellan in the qualifying semi-final last weekend by 66-24 (after leading 40-0 at half time), at Kirkham Park, Camden.
There’s little doubt that if, hypothetically, either of these sides were not present this season the other would stand alone atop of the contenders for the CRL’s major prize, usually awarded to an undefeated premier.
This got me thinking about the leading contenders around the other competitions in country NSW. When I started to research them I came to a startling realisation: Not only are both of Picton and Camden still in contention for the Claytons Cup, but they are statistically the two best teams across the CRL at the conclusion of all regular seasons.
The only club that appears to better them is the ‘South West Rocks Marlins’ of the Hastings League. I have disregarded them, however, because according to the official website their competition stats only go up to round 10 and have not been updated in two months, making it impossible to accurately compare them. It has been confirmed, however, that they were recently beaten by the Kendall Blues, ending their undefeated status.
The table below compiles all of the major stats from the minor premiers of each senior first grade competition across CRL for 2015 as well as the 2nd placed Picton side. The data has been sorted by the ratio of ‘points for’ to ‘points against’ measured as a percentage. This is the most precise way to compare competitions with seasons of varying lengths.
Some key stats include:
– In percentage terms, Picton are number 1 (398.48%), with Camden number 2 (352.89%).
– Picton have the 2nd best average defence (11) behind the Entrance Tigers (9), with Camden in third (13.44).
– Camden have the fourth best average attack (47.44) behind Coonabarabran (52.36), West Tamworth Lions (51.25), & Inverell Hawks (49.53).
– Camden have scored the most total points (854) ahead of Inverell (842) and Picton (789).
– Camden have the greatest total differential (+ 612) with Picton 2nd (+ 591).
– And possibly most notably, of the 9 competitions with 18 round seasons only Camden (612) and Picton (591) have differentials in excess of (+500). The next closest is the Shellharbour Sharks (487) in Group 7 who are a whopping 104 points in arrears. This gives an indication of the two sides continued dominance over a long period.
Picton co-coach Bryce Poisel was pleased by the stats but remained focussed on the job at hand. “It’s pretty impressive” he said. “Well done to both sides. It’s something that we haven’t really thought about, since we lost that game to Camden. Our main goal is just winning the comp and if we can do that, anything else is a bonus”.
Camden captain-coach and halfback, Scott Borg also gave credit to the quality of competition in general. “It’s great for the group as well” he declared. “We do have some quality players out here and if we eventually got everyone on the same field in the rep games I think we (Group 6) could compete against some of the bigger areas.”
Borgs’ assessment is a valid one, considering the vast array of players with NRL experience appearing in the competition in season 2015. Camden have Ray Cashmere and Dean Collis, Picton have Michael Lett. Add to that Bryce Gibbs and Stuart Flanagan at the Appin Dogs, Drury Low (Narellan Jets), and Sione Kite, Eddie Paea, & Matt Groat (Thirlmere Roosters).
Regardless of any claims on the Claytons Cup, one thing is for certain: In years to come these two will be the benchmark that fans measure future successes against. I hope local viewers take the time to acknowledge the extraordinary talent on display.
Catch all the rugby league news from the Macarthur region at Macarthur Rugby League Wrap.
Hear the full interview with Bryce Poisel here:
Hear the full interview with Scott Borg here: