Gold Coast's rising star, the Cowboys lose their middle, the Roosters' deceptive losing run, the Green Machine's disciplined effort, and the other key numbers and statistics that defined Round 8 of the 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership.
It was a day of doubles for young halfback Kane Elgey in Gold Coast's Round 8 win over the Warriors, with the Titans No.7 scoring two tries, assisting two further tries and two line breaks, as well as making two tackle breaks and two offloads. The Titans are on a roll, having won their last three, and Elgey is seemingly growing in confidence with every first grade game he plays.
Jason Taumalolo and Jake Granville have played a big part in the Cowboys' recent good run of form, but between the pair they managed just eight minutes on the field in their side's win over the Knights at Hunter Stadium. Taumalolo departed just two minutes into the contest with a medial ligament tear, and is set to miss up to eight weeks, while Granville (concussion) did not return to the field after the six-minute mark. The loss of these two key individuals so early on in the match made North Queensland's win even more remarkable, with Ray Thompson and Scott Bolton stepping up and playing big minutes.
After a promising opening month of the season, four consecutive loses might have Roosters fans concerned. But while the competition points haven't been rolling in, the losses have been by the barest of margins - with a cumulative losing margin of 15 points over the four rounds. Combine these narrow loses with the squad Trent Robinson has at his disposal, and a return to the winner's list can't be too far away.
Manly were back amongst the points in Round 8, and it is perhaps no surprise that a positive result came when they fielded a much more familiar looking and experienced backline. David Williams put in a solid performance, scoring a try and kicking two goals from three attempts, while the return of Brett Stewart and Jorge Taufua steadied the ship. Daly Cherry-Evans was the star for the Sea Eagles, with two try assists, two line-break assists, and 31 tackles.
With workhorses Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen missing, stand-in Sharks skipper Wade Graham certainly got through his fair share of work against his former side the Panthers, making 157 metres, six tackle busts, 30 tackles, as well as a try assist and line-break assist. The versatile forward has been selected to skipper the City Origin team, and inclusion in the NSW Origin squad is likely in the coming seasons.
Many were surprised when the Raiders overcame a 16-4 half-time deficit to down the Rabbitohs in Cairns, but a closer look at the numbers reveals they had every right to finish on top in the contest. They completed 30 of 36 sets (83.3 per cent), compared with South Sydney's 65.7 per cent completion rate (25 of 35 sets). Canberra also made fewer errors (seven) than their opponents (12), and conceded fewer penalties (five) than the premiers (nine).