The statistics never lie – or so the saying goes. But try telling that to the tens of thousands of crestfallen Manly fans who watched in agony as the Sea Eagles dominated the 2013 NRL grand final in most facets of the big game except where it mattered most – on the ANZ Stadium scoreboard.
Exclusive statistics supplied by NRL Stats show the Sydney Roosters clinched the 2013 title despite recording just a 62.8 per cent completions rate – the lowest ever rate by a winning grand final team since the NRL began in 1998 and the lowest in a premiership decider since Parramatta accounted for the Bulldogs 4-2 in 1986 despite just a 60.5 per cent completions rate.
By comparison the Sea Eagles completed an excellent 82 per cent of their sets in possession.
Compounding the disappointment of Manly fans was the fact their team made fewer errors (seven to the Roosters’ 13), missed fewer tackles (25 to 26), made more line busts (5-4) yet still couldn’t seal the deal.
However, a 5-2 advantage in penalties helped the tricolours secure a crucial 53 per cent share of possession. This translated into 16 more ‘used plays’ throughout the 80 minutes.
In the end it boiled down to the Roosters battering rams paving the way to victory, with the Bondi boys pounding out 76 distinct hit-ups for a gain of 572 metres – 30 hit-ups and 215 metres more than the Sea Eagles’ tall timber managed.
Other key statistics and trivia from the 2013 Grand Final include:
• Trailing 12-8 five minutes into the second half the tricolours had already committed nine errors (including four inside their own half) before Steve Matai crossed out wide to open up an 18-8 advantage. The last time a team made so many errors and still won a grand final was in 1998 when the bumbling Broncos made 13.
• It was a stunning turnaround as the Roosters previously hadn’t won a game after trailing with 30 minutes remaining since March last season.
• Shaun Kenny-Dowall’s match-turning try on the hour was the 20th try the Roosters scored from inside their own half in 2013, the most by any team.
• With Kenny-Dowall, Michael Jennings, Steve Matai and Jamie Lyon all awarded tries the 2013 decider marked the first time all four centres have scored in a grand final.
• Manly became just the fourth team to ever score 18 points or more in a decider and still go down (joining Balmain in 1945, Dragons in 1999 and the Eels in 2001).
• Daly Cherry-Evans may have seemed a controversial choice as Clive Churchill Medal winner but there was no denying his input; DC-E added 15 kicks, 11 runs for 114 metres, 15 tackles, eight tackle-breaks, two line-breaks, a try assist and an offload.
* Statistics: NRL Stats