By the Numbers: NRL Round 21
Come-from-behind victories galore, losing streaks end, Brisbane's unfortunate turn of events and the Sharks' new match-winner. The key numbers and statistics to come from Round 21 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Friday night delivered a match that will sit in the memories of Roosters fans and neutrals alike for quite some time, but the result could very well have gone the way of the Bulldogs. With the Roosters seemingly coasting to victory, up 22-0 after 25 minutes, Canterbury-Bankstown mounted one of the most remarkable comebacks of recent seasons, scoring 28 unanswered points to lead 28-22 with just over 20 minutes to play. However late tries to Blake Ferguson, Michael Jennings and Jackson Hastings would swing the momentum and the scoreboard back the way of the Tricolours, leaving us with a contender for game of the season.
It was a somewhat similar story in Townsville on Saturday night. After the Raiders jumped out to an impressive 18-0 lead, the Cowboys struck back through Michael Morgan in the shadows of half-time. They would go on to score 32 unanswered points before conceding a late try, again showing why North Queensland are one of the teams to beat in 2015.
Two teams ended some unfortunate losing streaks in Round 21. The Dragons tasted victory for the first time since Round 12, showing how much they love playing at Jubilee Oval, having now won their last three at the venue including their 42-6 demolition of the Sharks. For Wests Tigers, it was their first win since Round 14, comprehensively dealing with the Storm 34-16 in Aaron Woods' 100th NRL game. St George Illawarra have jumped straight back into the top eight, while the win will help the Tigers move further away from the bottom of the ladder.
The Sharks are on a roll, and a lot of their good work is being finished off by an exceptional young talent on the wing. Blessed with so much depth in their outside backs that Ben Barba is forced to start from the bench, the Sharks have a match-winner on their hands in the form of Valentine Holmes. The 20-year-old speedster has scored tries in his last four starts, including a double against the Warriors which has seen him jump to 14 for the season, equal with Alex Johnston, Lachlan Maranta, Brett Stewart, Marika Koroibete, and James Tedesco on the top try-scorers list, just one behind James Roberts and three behind joint leaders Curtis Rona and Semi Radradra (both 17 tries).
The Broncos have a habit of piling on the points, having brought up 44 points against three sides this season. The Cowboys in Round 3, the Sea Eagles in Round 13, and the Knights in Round 16 all were on the wrong end of Brisbane demolition job, however it was Manly who reversed that particular trend at Central Coast Stadium, running in eight tries to down the competition leaders 44-14. It was a remarkable turn of fortune for the Sea Eagles, who will be out to end Geoff Toovey's time as head coach in the best possible way, while the Broncos will be keen to return to winning ways against the Bulldogs on Friday night.