Stats Insider: NRL's dodgiest defenders revealed
There are certain statistics that players take pride in. You can be sure Paul Gallen loves the fact he consistently makes around 200 metres a game. You can take it as read Matt Ballin is chuffed to be leading the tackle count in the NRL.
But there are some stats that players don’t want their names associated with.
Look out NRL stars, because this week your Stats Insider highlights one of those unwanted statistics: the dreaded missed tackles. Just who is missing the most tackles in the NRL?
Below we’ll delve into the teams that are missing the most tackles collectively, and the specific individuals with the most misses, and make a case as to whether or not the inability to wrap up the opposition on a regular basis is causing that team’s downfall… or whether others in the team are making up for the slack.
While I know you are dying to hear which individuals are struggling, let’s start with the teams.
AVERAGE MISSED TACKLES – TEAM
The number of missed tackles a team is averaging turns out to be a pretty good indicator of how they are travelling this season. Six of the current top-eight teams are in the top eight for missing the fewest tackles with the three best teams in the NRL – the Broncos, Storm and Sharks – missing the fewest tackles overall.
Brisbane have the distinction of being the best team in the NRL in this regard, averaging just 24.4 misses each match. They are less than a tackle a match better than the Storm (25.2) and the Sharks (25.3).
Only the Wests Tigers and the Sea Eagles have been able to find their way into the top eight despite performing poorly in the missed tackles category.
The eighth-placed Wests Tigers are missing 33 tackles a match to be ranked 14th in the NRL while the reigning premier Sea Eagles are even worse.
They may sit in seventh place on the ladder at this point of the season, but with 33.9 misses each week they are ranked second last in the NRL.
Who is the worst team? The distinction falls to last season’s runners-up, the Warriors. Brian McClennan is fully aware his defence needs more steel if they are to seriously contend again. While just a win outside the current top eight, the Warriors are making life difficult by missing a whopping 36.6 tackles every game.
1. Broncos: 24.4; 2. Storm: 25.2; 3. Sharks: 25.3; 4. Dragons: 25.8; 5. Bulldogs: 26.6; 6. Rabbitohs: 26.6; 7. Cowboys: 28.8; 8. Roosters: 29.3; 9. Raiders: 29.8; 10. Panthers: 30.1; 11. Knights: 31.1; 12. Titans: 32.1; 13. Eels: 32.1; 14. Wests Tigers: 33; 15. Sea Eagles: 33.9; 16. Warriors: 36.6
AVERAGE MISSED TACKLES – PLAYER
When it comes to ranking the boys in this category, it is only fair to propose a minimum amount of games played. Let’s make it three games – which is good news for young Wests Tigers half Jacob Miller (missed seven tackles in his lone game this year, which would otherwise qualify him as the worst defender in the NRL) and young Eel Justin Horo (averages five misses a match from two games and would rank third in the NRL).
If you had to guess, most of you would probably throw up Chris Sandow’s name. The Eels half has been known to miss his fair share of tackles and his numbers get higher when he attempts his customary shoulder charges, as often as he does. But his 4.9 misses a match in 2012 actually leaves Sandow ‘runner-up’ in the most unwanted stats tag.
The player who has averaged more misses each week is Warriors playmaker James Maloney, with 5.4 a game. Perhaps this is a reason his star faded in Origin discussions? What makes things even more concerning for the Warriors (we already know they are the worst team at missed tackles) is Maloney’s halves partner Shaun Johnson ranks equal third with 4.4 misses a game. So while the attacking brilliance of the pair is an obvious bonus for the boys from across the ditch, it seems their inability to effectively fell the opposition is causing stress on others and the results have seen the Warriors off the pace.
Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds also sits in equal third with 4.4 misses each match – but thankfully for him and the blue-and-white fans, the rest of the Doggies cover for him. Can they keep doing that for him in the big games later in the year?
The surprise entrant as equal third on the average missed tackle list is Sea Eagles and New South Wales star Glenn Stewart. From his five games this year the 2011 Clive Churchill Medal winner has averaged 4.4 misses. (He missed six against the Panthers last week.) One would expect his name to fall off this list as the season progresses.
In a worry for the Sea Eagles, Stewart’s team-mates take up the next three spots on the list, with Liam Foran missing 4.1 a game (and 11 last week!), Tony Williams at 4 per game and Anthony Watmough at 3.9.
What about the other end of the scale? Fifteen players have played just one or two games and not missed a tackle but using the three-game minimum, the honour of the best in the NRL goes jointly to Junior Moors from the Wests Tigers and Scott Geddes at South Sydney. Moors has missed just 0.2 tackles a match from his five games this year while Geddes, more impressively, has the same rate from 10 games this season. Four other players – Penrith’s Matt Robinson and Mitch Achurch, plus Cowboy Kalifa Faifai Loa and Shark Mark Taufua – are the next best, averaging just 0.3 misses.
1. James Maloney (Warriors): 5.4 – 11 games; 2. Chris Sandow (Eels): 4.9 – 10 games; =3. Josh Reynolds (Bulldogs): 4.4 – 12 games; =3. Glenn Stewart (Sea Eagles): 4.4 – 5 games; =3. Shaun Johnson (Warriors): 4.4 – 10 games; 6. Liam Foran (Sea Eagles): 4.1 – 7 games; 7. Tony Williams (Sea Eagles): 4 – 3 games; 8. Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles): 3.9 – 12 games; 9. Scott Prince (Titans): 3.8 – 10 games; 10. Luke Lewis (Panthers): 3.7 – 11 games.
• Statistics: NRL Stats