Stats Insider: Panthers' metre-eaters best in the business

Penrith are in the box seat for an assault at the premiership, with NRL statistics showing they have a distinct advantage in metres gained over their opponents coming into the crucial games. <br><br>While the Panthers average only the seventh-most running metres a game and 13th-best kicking metres, when you factor in the metres they concede across the ground and through the boot, they come out on top by a significant margin. <br><br>In order to attack the opposition’s try line with regular success, sides need to be within good range; and in order to be able to steer away from their own goal line sides need to be able to churn through the metres. <br><br>The Panthers gain 139 metres more than their opposition per game, thanks to their ability to restrict the go-forward of their opponents. <br><br>Matthew Elliot’s men make 1355 metres across the ground each week – but concede only 1210, giving them a differential of 145 metres. <br><br>They lose a little bit of ground thanks to kicking just 532 metres each week and conceding 538 metres, but the 139-metre differential total is significantly higher than the second-ranked St George Illawarra at 102 metres. <br><br>And the Dragons’ numbers come mainly courtesy of their kicking game, which has a plus-70 differential. <br><br>Most coaches will tell you it is easier to contain a kicking game than it is the go-forward of an entire running team. Amazingly, nine Panthers squad members are averaging more than 100 metres per match in 2010 – six of them regular starters. Prop Petero Civoniceva (142 metres), fullback Lachlan Coote (130 metres), winger and stand-in fullback Michael Gordon (113 metres), prop Tim Grant (116 metres), centre Michael Jennings (104 metres) and second-rower Frank Pritchard (104 metres) are leading the way. The wingers Sandor Earl (114 metres), Shane Elford (102 metres) and David Simmons (151 metres) also have triple-figure averages from their limited games. <br><br>The numbers for running and kicking metres, both gained and conceded, throw up some interesting tidbits of information:<br>The Titans gain the most metres across the ground with 1406 metres – a big contributing factor to their five-game winning streak and push towards a top-four berth. They hold a 99-metre positive differential when factoring in running metres conceded, which ranks them second. <br><br>However, while they are one of the best kicking teams in the competition with 603 metres a match, they are the worst in the NRL at conceding kick metres. They still rank third overall in metres differential, but will be vulnerable unless they provide a better kick pressure game.<br><br>The Raiders’ push for a place in the finals is based around their running metres; they now boast a second-best average of 1405 metres a game. But just like the Titans, they let themselves down in the kick metres-conceded category and must lift in the coming weeks.<br><br>The Warriors might be in danger of slipping out of the top eight but if they continue with their metres-gained numbers, they should be able to right the ship. On the back of being the second-best side in containing running metres and having a positive kick metres differential, the Warriors rank fourth overall by gaining 65 metres more than their opponents each week. If they can lift their running metres gained from 11th they could be a dark horse contender.<br><br>The Knights are really up against it, as they try to complete a miracle run to the finals with their total differential being 13th in the NRL. The Knights lag 53 metres behind their opponents on average each week, as they are low in running metres and second last in kicking metres. What is most interesting, however, is they are fourth-best in the NRL at conceding run metres and concede the fewest kick metres – showing that if they could somehow lift their offensive output, they would have been in this premiership up to their eyeballs.<br><br>The Eels are also struggling overall, hence the predicament they find themselves in. They concede the most running metres and while their kicking differential brings them up it still isn’t enough to wipe off a deficit; they are 27 metres worse off than rivals each week, ranking them 12th. <br><br>It is no surprise the Sharks, Cowboys and Bulldogs are struggling this season, as they remain well behind their opponents on average each week. The Bulldogs are 67 metres worse off each week, while the Cowboys are embarrassingly 165 metres in arrears and the Sharks are a diabolical 214 metres back each game. (Imagine if Paul Gallen wasn’t playing…)<br><br>The Rabbitohs and Raiders are the only teams in the overall metres gained differential ‘top eight’ who are not in the NRL official top eight. <br><br>The Wests Tigers and Roosters are the two teams in the actual top eight but not in this top eight – although they are in ninth and 11th positions, showing how good a guide these numbers are. <br><br>The Broncos need Darren Lockyer back quick smart, as only their kicking metre numbers are keeping them at a high level – and they are dropping each week he is missing!<br><br>Ranked a lowly 14th in running metres conceded, the Broncos only stay in positive field position thanks to a 56-metre differential in kicks. Lockyer averages 296 kicking metres a game, the most of any Bronco. <br><b><br>Average Running Metres Gained</b><br><br>1. TITANS: 1406, 2. RAIDERS: 1405, 3. DRAGONS: 1398, 4. RABBITOHS: 1375, 5. BRONCOS: 1374, 6. BULLDOGS: 1360, 7. PANTHERS: 1355, 7. WESTS TIGERS: 1355, 9. EELS: 1334, 10. SEA EAGLES: 1329, 11. WARRIORS: 1305, 12. ROOSTERS: 1288, 13. COWBOYS: 1279, 14. KNIGHTS: 1261, 14. SHARKS: 1261, 16. STORM: 1227<br><b><br>Average Running Metres Conceded</b><br><br>1. PANTHERS: 1210, 2. WARRIORS: 1253, 3. STORM: 1284, 4. KNIGHTS: 1287, 5. TITANS: 1307, 6. ROOSTERS: 1317, 7. WESTS TIGERS: 1322, 8. SEA EAGLES: 1345, 9. RAIDERS: 1350, 10. RABBITOHS: 1361, 11. COWBOYS: 1362, 12. SHARKS: 1364, 13. DRAGONS: 1366, 14. BRONCOS: 1385, 15. BULLDOGS: 1388, 16. EELS: 1408<br><br><b>Running Metres Differential</b><br><br>1. PANTHERS: 145, 2. TITANS: 99, 3. RAIDERS: 55, 4. WARRIORS: 52, 5. WESTS TIGERS: 33, 6. DRAGONS: 32, 7. RABBITOHS: 14, 8. BRONCOS: -11, 9. SEA EAGLES: -16, 10. KNIGHTS: -26, 11. BULLDOGS: -28, 12. ROOSTERS: -29, 13. STORM: -57, 14. EELS: -74, 15. COWBOYS: -83, 16. SHARKS: -103<br><br><b>Average Kicking Metres Gained</b><br><br>1. DRAGONS: 673, 2. SEA EAGLES: 625, 3. EELS: 620, 4. TITANS: 603, 5. STORM: 600, 6. BRONCOS: 592, 7. RAIDERS: 591, 8. WARRIORS: 581, 9. WESTS TIGERS: 562, 10. BULLDOGS: 561, 11. RABBITOHS: 551, 12. ROOSTERS: 533, 13. PANTHERS: 532, 14. SHARKS: 502, 15. KNIGHTS: 481, 16. COWBOYS: 478<br><br><b>Average Kicking Metres Conceded</b><br><br>1. KNIGHTS: 508, 2. ROOSTERS: 530, 3. STORM: 534, 4. BRONCOS: 536, 5. PANTHERS: 538, 6. RABBITOHS: 544, 7. COWBOYS: 560, 8. WARRIORS: 568, 9. EELS: 573, 9. SEA EAGLES: 573, 11. WESTS TIGERS: 577, 12. BULLDOGS: 600, 13. DRAGONS: 603, 14. RAIDERS: 610, 15. SHARKS: 613, 16. TITANS: 617<br><br><b>Kicking Metres Differential</b><br><br>1. DRAGONS: 70, 2. STORM: 66, 3. BRONCOS: 56, 4. SEA EAGLES: 52, 5. EELS: 47, 6. WARRIORS: 13, 7. RABBITOHS: 7, 8. ROOSTERS: 3, 9. PANTHERS: -6, 10. TITANS: -14, 11. WESTS TIGERS: -15, 12. RAIDERS: -19, 13. KNIGHTS: -27, 14. BULLDOGS: -39, 15. COWBOYS: -82, 16. SHARKS: -111<br><b><br>Total Metres Gained Differential</b><br><br>1. PANTHERS: 139, 2. DRAGONS: 102, 3. TITANS: 85, 4. WARRIORS: 65, 5. BRONCOS: 45, 6. SEA EAGLES: 36, 6. RAIDERS: 36, 8. RABBITOHS: 21, 9. WESTS TIGERS: 18, 10. STORM: 9, 11. ROOSTERS: -26, 12. EELS: -27, 13. KNIGHTS: -53, 14. BULLDOGS: -67, 15. COWBOYS: -165, 16. SHARKS: -214