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Eels players celebrate a try.

A look at the ladder position of NRL teams during 2019 suggests the Eels' season wasn't the up-and-down affair it seemed. Stats has run the rule over each club's ladder progression to isolate the highs and lows with a few surprising take-outs.

Just four clubs spent all 25 rounds in the top eight in 2019 and it may not be the four you'd think.

With the Roosters going down to Souths in round one and not entering the top half of the competition until round three (though they never left it thereafter), they were the only top-four side to spend a week outside the eight.

Round one was the only week all year the Storm spent outside the top four while the Raiders joined them in never appearing below fifth.

For the Bunnies, their only week outside the top five came in round one when a narrow win over the Roosters started their season in sixth.

The surprise entrant was Parramatta, coming off a wooden spoon and widely tipped to be propping up the ladder once again.

After wins over the Panthers and Bulldogs to start the year, the Eels never fell below eighth. They filled that spot from rounds nine to 15 before pushing back up to fifth.

The Roosters joined the top four in round four and never left, finishing second, while Manly never left the top eight after fighting their way in after round three.

The best long-range tries from the 2019 season

Clearly the ladder is more volatile in the first couple of rounds when a single win or loss can send teams more than 10 spots up or down the ladder.

The Warriors and Wests Tigers are each a case in point. They found themselves in top spot on the ladder in rounds one and two respectively after the Warriors' huge win over the Bulldogs in round one and the Tigers' huge round two win over the Warriors the next week.

The Warriors never returned to the top eight after falling out in round three and although the Tigers were playing for a finals spot in round 25 their final week in the top eight was round 11.

The Dragons have made a habit out of tailing away in the second half of seasons and did so from a lower than usual base in 2019, going from a high of sixth in round six to falling out of the top eight in round nine before eventually falling all the way to 15th.

The Cowboys' season-high spot of fourth is misleading – round one was the only week they spent in the top eight. Their next best week was 10th spot in round 17, slipping from there to 14th.

Other teams recovered from poor starts to finish at or close to their season-high spots to provide a glimmer of hope for 2020.

The top try assists from the 2019 season

The Broncos were as low as 14th in round 16 - past the competition's halfway mark - and recovered to eighth while Canterbury were in last spot for chunks of the season but finished brightly to end in 12th.

The Panthers also spent a week at the very bottom of the ladder before a winning run put them in with a chance of a finals berth before eventually finishing 10th.

The Sharks were arguably the most inconsistent team, flattering to deceive on several occasions and popping in and out of the top eight with regularity (they moved from out of the eight into the top half no fewer than six times through the season, swinging between third and 11th before finishing seventh).

The best hits from the 2019 season

The wildest ride of all though was up in the Hunter where the Knights were firming for the wooden spoon when they slipped to 15th in round six before catching fire, surging all the way to the top four before collapsing in a heap and dropping back to 12th.

The consistency award goes to the Raiders, who spent all 25 rounds in the narrow band between second and fifth, reliably notching up wins and never losing games in bunches, eventually taking that form all the way to the grand final.

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Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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