By the Numbers: NRL Round 20
An experienced dummy-half gets one over his younger counterpart, a star playmaker's untimely injury, Melbourne's Kiwi connection, and the Broncos roll on. The key numbers and statistics that defined Round 20 of the 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership season.
The Broncos are firing, scoring points for fun and defending brilliantly on their way to what would be a fifth minor premiership. Friday night's win over Queensland rivals the Titans marked the first time since Round 25, 2006 that the Brisbane side have held their opponents to nil. Remember what happened later that season? Wayne Bennett's side aren't getting too carried away just yet, but right now, it's a great time to be a Broncos supporter.
After locking down the Brisbane No.7 jersey last season, Ben Hunt is taking his game to another level in 2015. Against the Titans, the halfback produced 75 metres, two try assists, five tackle busts, 24 tackles, no missed tackles, a line break, two line-break assists, and committed no errors or conceded any penalties in a superb well-rounded performance.
Along with Hunt and Johnathan Thurston, Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson was one of the form halfbacks of the competition, but lasted just 27 minutes in the Warriors' loss to the Sea Eagles. Stretching out to score following a now-trademark weaving run, the reigning Golden Boot winner broke his lower leg and dislocated his ankle, ending his season in the process. Following successful surgery, Johnson is looking at between four and five months on the sidelines, but told Warriors TV he is aiming to be back at full fitness prior to that.
South Sydney enjoyed their biggest winning margin over Newcastle on Saturday night, eclipsing last year's 50-10 demolition in Cairns. After Kade Snowden opened the scoring for the visitors, the Rabbitohs went on to score 52 unanswered points, with the match featuring hat-tricks to captain Greg Inglis and Dylan Walker.
While a Storm home game in Napier, New Zealand against the Dragons might seem slightly odd on paper, it provided the opportunity for six of Melbourne's 17 to play on home soil. Hawke's Bay product Tohu Harris, the returning Matt Duffie, brothers Jesse and Kenny Bromwich all hail from New Zealand, as do Kevin Proctor, and Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who both crossed for tries on the night.
The Bulldogs-Sharks Sunday afternoon clash at Belmore saw two hookers that traded clubs last off-season face each other for the first time, with Michael Ennis getting one over his former side and younger counterpart Michael Lichaa. The experienced No.9 produced two try assists, 25 tackles, one line-break assist, and eight runs for 46 metres in the win over Des Hasler's side, while Lichaa scored a try and made 50 tackles, a line break and just two runs for nine metres.
With the scoreline poised tentatively at 10-4 at half-time, one of the biggest upsets of the year seemed a distinct possibility on Monday night. But the Cowboys turned their statistical domination into points with a 36-0 second half, with 1928 total run metres for the match compared with the Eels' 1260. Parramatta were also forced into making 366 tackles, 70 more than North Queensland.