By the Numbers: NRL Round 9
NSW young guns start to fire, fullbacks galore at Brisbane and a try-scoring freak joins an elite club. These are the key numbers and statistics that defined Round 9 of the 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership.
With Darius Boyd returning from injury on Friday night, Brisbane's love affair with fullbacks continued with the Broncos fielding five custodians in their match day 17. Boyd's inclusion meant Jordan Kahu shifted to the wing, with Lachlan Maranta occupying the other flank. Justin Hodges started in the centres, and Kodi Nikorima resumed his role as an interchange hooker. The match-winning try came from Corey Oates, who moved from the wing to a different role as an interchange forward.
Things are looking up in the nation's capital, with the Raiders running in 10 tries against the Titans, including doubles to Blake Austin and Jarrod Croker. Following wins over the Tigers and Rabbitohs, the Green Machine have racked up an impressive 116 points in the past three rounds. Full of confidence, they'll face the Dragons, Bulldogs and Broncos in the next three.
How's this for a day's work? A game-high 21 runs for 208 metres, seven tackle busts, 33 tackles, a line break, an offload and one of the most brilliant solo tries you'll see from a prop. Andrew Fifita is a machine, and he managed all that in 59 minutes on the field against the Warriors. A return to the NSW Origin side is sure to follow.
Another young NSW hopeful, Bulldogs second-rower Josh Jackson, put in an eye-catching performance in his side's loss to the Cowboys on Saturday night. With 106 metres, two tackle busts, two offloads, a line break, a try and 47 tackles (second only in this stat to teammate Michael Lichaa, who made 60), the Australia international is right in the mix for selection in Laurie Daley's side.
Sea Eagles fullback Brett Stewart joined a fairly exclusive club when he crossed for his 150th first-grade try against the Knights on Sunday. It was fitting that the 'Prince of Brookvale' chalked up the achievement in front of the Manly faithful, on what was a memorable afternoon on the northern beaches.
Josh Dugan, come on down. The St George Illawarra custodian shrugged off a knee complaint which ended his Kangaroos debut prematurely to make a game-high 24 runs for 289 metres against the Rabbitohs on Monday night. Throw in eight tackle busts and three offloads, and you begin to appreciate the kind of night the Dragons fullback had. There's little doubt now that he'll be the first name read out when the NSW Origin side is announced next Tuesday.