Storm defence the cornerstone
Melbourne achieved a club record 12 consecutive victories in Friday night’s 8-6 victory over St George Illawarra on the back of a phenomenal defensive record. In their first 10 games of the season, the Storm conceded an average of 15 points per game but since their run began against the Sharks in Round 12, their defence has conceded a meagre 8.3 points per game. Overall, their defensive average for the season is 11.4 points per game, one of the best defensive performances in 20 years.
Rabbitohs golden-point kings
The Rabbitohs have become the new kings of golden point, winning successive matches against the Sydney Roosters (21-20 in Rd 19) and North Queensland (26-24 last Friday night) in 2011. Souths have now played 11 golden point games, losing only twice. Their record includes five wins and four draws. Last Friday night’s nailbiter was their second golden point game against the Cowboys. The teams played a 20-all draw at Gosford’s Central Coast Stadium back in 2004.
Double-ton Laffranchi joins rare company
Gold Coast forward Anthony Laffranchi joined rare company in last Saturday night’s clash with Canberra when he became only the 14th player to complete the double of 100 appearances for two premiership clubs. The former Test representative, who will join St Helens in 2012, played 102 games for the Wests Tigers (2001-06) before becoming a foundation member of the Titans in 2007. Among those who have also completed the double include Ron Coote (Souths and Easts), Brad Fittler (Penrith and Sydney Roosters) and Braith Anasta (Bulldogs and Sydney Roosters).
Panthers’ crowds on the up
The Panthers were unable to send departing stars Petero Civoniceva and Trent Waterhouse out on a winning note in their final game at Centrebet Stadium last Saturday night (Penrith lost 26-12 to the Warriors) but there was encouraging news on one front. Home crowds for the second half of the season averaged 14,572, a significant improvement on the first half of the year when the club drew few more than 10,000 to their first six home games.
Chooks rule roost at the SFS
They may be also-rans in 2011, but Brian Smith’s Sydney Roosters have achieved more regular seasons wins at the Sydney Football Stadium than they did last year when they qualified for the grand final. Last Saturday night’s 36-25 defeat of Cronulla gave the Roosters seven wins from 10 appearances at the SFS for 2011, compared with just six wins from nine games there in the home and away rounds last season.
Small consolation for Bulldogs
Canterbury failed to end Manly’s unbeaten run at Brookvale Oval for 2011 when they went down 27-16 on Sunday but they did score a minor victory. The Bulldogs became the first club to take a halftime lead over the Sea Eagles in nine games at Brookvale this season. Manly scored the first try for the seventh game in succession at Brookvale but the Bulldogs went ahead 10-7 at the break following an intercept try to winger Jonathon Wright. Manly scored three tries in the second term to secure a comfortable 11-point win.
More history in sight for Tigers
Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall rewrote the joint venture club’s all-time point-scoring record last Sunday in his team’s 31-12 defeat of Parramatta and now the Tigers have more history in their sights as they aim for a record run of wins. Last Sunday’s victory was their sixth in succession, leaving them only two short of the record set in the premiership season of 2005, when they won eight straight. The Tigers will be favoured to win remaining matches against the Gold Coast (Campbelltown) and Cronulla (Toyota Stadium) to equal the record.