Monday Buzz: Referee stats that will shock supporters
AS soon as the Brisbane Broncos beat the Canterbury Bulldogs in controversial circumstances on Thursday night, an interesting statistic emerged on social media.
That the Broncos had incredibly won 14 consecutive games under the refereeing of Gerard Sutton at Suncorp Stadium.
So we decided to drill down on the stats further and check the home-ground records of other referees in the past five seasons.
In 14 consecutive wins under Sutton, the Broncos have lost the penalties only four times and have an average winning margin of 12 points.
It's also interesting that in the year of a massive penalty crackdown on offside defence, play-the-balls and being square at marker, the Broncos were perfect in the second half against the Bulldogs, not giving away a single penalty.
That's more startling than the 14 consecutive wins.
So there is a perception out there that the Broncos always get the "bounce of the ball" or the "50-50 calls" when Sutton is refereeing their home games.
He has also done more Broncos home games than any other referee.
So we decided to go back to 2014 and check the penalty record of all referees who have done 10 or more games at any particular home ground.
It turns out Brisbane's record under Sutton since the beginning of 2014 is 15 wins from 16 games. That's 93.8 per cent, compared to 70.9 per cent under all referees.
Under the highly rated Grant Atkins, it's just 66.7 per cent.
Remarkably, this exercise threw up another club/referee combination that is even "better" than Sutton and the Broncos.
The Sydney Roosters have won their past 11 in a row at Allianz Stadium under Matt Cecchin yet their overall win record at the ground since 2014 is 68.5 per cent.
I guess it just shows that some teams play better under some referees.
At the other end of the table, some teams have shocking records under certain referees.
The Raiders have won only two of their past 10 under Ashley Klein in Canberra.
The Bulldogs have also won only two from 10 under Sutton at ANZ Stadium.
Now let's get one thing clear. We are in no way questioning the integrity of our referees.
They are all impartial.
Your columnist believes they do their best each week but suffer from poor leadership.
Like the players, they will always make mistakes.
Yet we can quietly learn from this research.
Next time the Broncos get a home game, send someone other than Sutton to Suncorp Stadium.
Next time the Roosters are at home, maybe give Cecchin another game.
And unless you really want another $10,000 off Ricky Stuart, stop sending Klein to the nation's capital.