By the Numbers: NRL Round 5
Penrith's record-breaking workhorse, a veteran steals the show, young stars reveal their potential, and the rise of the Red V Wall. These are the key numbers and statistics that defined Round 5 of the 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership.
Elijah Taylor, take a bow. Despite the Panthers benefiting from 53 per cent of possession against the Cowboys, the Penrith lock managed to make an astonishing 77 tackles of the 80 he attempted on Monday night. In the past we've seen players such as Shaun Fensom, Micheal Luck and Nathan Hindmarsh make more than 70 tackles in a match, but Taylor has topped them all for tackles made over 80 minutes.
Pat Richards left it late, but almost single-handedly won the game for the Wests Tigers in the final 11 minutes of their Easter Monday meeting with the Eels. Parramatta were holding onto a two-point lead before Richards' try, two try assists and three goals in the closing stages of the match swung the contest in favour of Wests Tigers.
The Stewart brothers have served the Sea Eagles well over the past decade, but it looks as though another set of brothers will be a big part of the side both this season and beyond. Jake Trbojevic has been solid from the interchange, but it was the debut of outside back Tom Trbojevic that has excited Manly fans everywhere. In his first NRL appearance against the Raiders, Tom had a game-high 24 runs for 207 metres, made four tackle busts, two line breaks and scored two tries on the wing. That performance would've equated to 63 points in NRL Fantasy – no doubt he'll have many interested in drafting him in ahead of Round 6.
In one of the most even competitions in world sport, enjoying over 60 per cent of possession generally leads to a positive result for most NRL sides. However, that was not to be for the Bulldogs on Good Friday. Despite having just 39 per cent possession, South Sydney managed to squeeze past their rivals by the closest of margins.
Broncos prop Mitchell Dodds spent just under half an hour on the field against the Titans on Friday night, but put in the most prolific performance of his NRL career. Previously having scored just one four-pointer in first grade, the Capalaba Warriors junior crossed for a try either side of half-time. Teammate Anthony Milford also had a double, but points haven't been as hard to come by for the livewire five-eighth.
While Paul McGregor would've been content with his side's 13 points scored against the Knights, it was undoubtedly the Dragons' ability to shut out the previously undefeated Knights that would have pleased the St George Illawarra coach the most. Since Blake Austin crossed for Canberra against the Red V at the 18 minute mark in Round 3, the Dragons have conceded just one try in 220 minutes of football. It might not be the flashiest style of play, but for now, it's getting the job done.
The Sharks look to have a real talent on their hands. Starting at five-eighth in just his second NRL appearance, Jack Bird starred against the Roosters with two tries, a try assist, two line breaks, seven tackle breaks and 124 metres in a man-of-the-match performance. Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan now has the welcome headache of squeezing Ben Barba into the 17 next week. Regardless, Bird will be an important part of this Sharks side in 2015 and beyond.