Rugby league may be a game of two halves – but it’s what happens in the first 40 minutes of Sunday’s NRL Telstra Premiership decider between the Roosters and Sea Eagles that will carry most weight in determining which team holds aloft the Provan Summons Trophy.
Statistics provided by NRL Stats show that since mandatory grand finals were introduced in 1954, just 10 teams have been able to overturn a halftime deficit and emerge with premiership glory.
Put that into context in terms of the head-to-head battle between the Bondi boys and their northern beaches counterparts and fans of both teams have plenty of reasons to get excited about their players’ chances.
However, possibly weighing on the Roosters’ minds is the fact they were the last of the 10 teams to surrender a grand final halftime lead – downed 32-8 by St George Illawarra in 2010 after they led 8-6 at oranges.
That said, Tricolours supporters are buoyed by their charges having won 19 of 21 games when leading at the halftime siren in 2013; likewise Manly fans sleep soundly given the Sea Eagles’ 14 wins from 17 games when ahead after 40 minutes this year.
Other key stats bubbling around Sunday’s decider include:
* For the first time, three separate players with 250 games’ experience will appear in the same Grand Final (Brent Kite 287, Anthony Minichiello 274, and Anthony Watmough 265);
* The Roosters are poised to claim their 11th Minor Premiership/Premiership double (their first since 1975);
* Anthony Watmough requires just one more metre to achieve 30,000 for his career (3639 runs in 265 games);
* James Maloney is poised to become just the fourth Rooster to score 250 points in a season;
* Jamie Lyon needs just one try assist for 100 in his career;
* At club level Brett Stewart has scored 13 tries in only 15 ANZ Stadium appearances (for 11 victories);
* The Roosters are just the 12th team to enter a decider having scored 100 tries whilst conceding 15 points or less per match;
* In 2013, Manly held a top-four spot Round 2, while the Roosters took until Round 6 to achieve that rank;
* Pugnacious Geoff Toovey is poised to join Bob Fulton as the only men to both captain and coach Manly to a Premiership title;
* Six Manly players will feature in their fourth decider in seven years, whilst up to eight Roosters remain in the line-up from 2010 (final team pending);
* Brent Kite and Brenton Lawrence will become only the third front-row pairing to both start in 27 games throughout a season (joining Petero Civoniceva and Shane Webcke for Brisbane in 2001; and Martin Lang and Jason Stevens for Cronulla in 2001).
* Manly’s David ‘Wolfman’ Williams (20) and Jorge Taufua (19) are on the verge of becoming just the fourth wing pairing in history to both score 20 tries in a single season;
* Michael Jennings is poised to become only the second Rooster to score 20 tries in his debut club season (joining Rod O’Loan who scored 27 in 1935); and
* In 2013 the Roosters have utilised the fewest of players in 32 years (25).
*Statistics: NRL Stats