Sometimes the Hare Wins

Leading early has never been as predictive of the final outcome as it has been this season.

Consider the statistics. In the 150 games that have produced a clear winner, that winner has led 75% of the time at the 1st change, 76% of the time at the main break, and a startling 89% of the time at the final change. Put another way, only 16 teams have trailed at the final change - by any amount - and gone on to win.

If we exclude slender leads, come-from-behind victories all but vanish. Only 8 teams with a lead of 2 goals or more at quarter time have surrendered that lead, and only 2 teams with a lead of 3 goals or more have done similarly from that point. A lead of 2 goals or more at the main break has been insufficient on only 9 occasions, and a lead of 3 goals or more on only 5 occasions.

No team - not one - has surrendered a three-quarter time lead of 3 goals or more this season, and only 6 teams have lost after leading at the final change by just 1 goal or more.

In an historical context, these statistics are all anomalous, as are the statistics relating to the quarters won by winning teams.

Usually, the teams that win have differentially asserted their dominance in the 3rd or the 4th quarter of games. Whilst winning the 1st or 2nd quarters has always been of some importance, failing to do so has, in years past, not been a significant impediment to victory. This year, however, winning teams have dominated 1st quarters most of all - teams that have taken the competition points have won 75% of 1st terms, but only 67% of 2nd terms, 69% of 3rd terms, and 72% of 4th terms.

Lead early, lead often.