By the Numbers: NRL Round 23
Penrith's versatile star, a young Rabbitoh makes a strong return, and the fullback about to smash through the 5000 run metre barrier. The key numbers and statistics that defined Round 23 of the 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership season.
While a game-high 46 tackles certainly warrants a mention, perhaps the most pleasing aspect of South Sydney forward Kyle Turner's Round 23 performance was the amount of time he spent on the field against the Cowboys on Thursday night. After spending much of the season sidelined while recovering from neck surgery, and leaving the field with concussion in his return game in Round 21, Turner played 69 minutes in Souths' 13-point win. The game also marked the return of Kirisome Auva'a from suspension, with two of the Rabbitohs' victorious grand final side back in the fold for the run home.
With injuries decimating the Panthers, Ivan Cleary turned to interchange forward Tyrone Peachey to partner Jamie Soward in the halves against the Warriors on Saturday night. The move proved to be a masterstroke, with Peachey doing his fair share of playmaking while defending in the forwards, making 236 metres, eight tackle busts, 29 tackles and four line breaks, as well as scoring a try in the victory.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ran for 249 metres against the Eels on Saturday night, which for any other player would represent an outstanding night at the office. But for RTS in 2015, it's very much par for the course, with the Roosters custodian now sitting on a total of 4941 metres for the season so far, some 1500 metres more than the next best player in the league (Jesse Bromwich, 3393). The Warriors-bound fullback is likely to easily smash through the 5000 metre barrier in Round 24, the first player in NRL history to do so.
Speaking of the Tricolours, Saturday night's victory over the Eels was their ninth straight, setting up a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash with the Broncos in Round 24. Victory in that fixture would see Trent Robinson's side leapfrog Brisbane into top spot thanks to their superior for-and-against, with the Roosters very much a chance of snaring their third straight minor premiership.
Two players' games were cut abruptly short on Sunday afternoon, with Wests Tigers prop Aaron Woods (14 minutes) and Bulldogs dummy-half Michael Lichaa (five minutes) succumbing to injures in their respective side's matches. Woods' influence on the Tigers side became abundantly clear in his absence, with the Knights engine room getting the better of the home side's middle men en route to their six-point win. The Bulldogs however were able to overcome the loss of their young star to down Gold Coast, with Lichaa unfortunately set to miss the remainder of the season.
It was never going to be easy replacing Billy Slater for the second half of the season, but young Melbourne fullback Cameron Munster is certainly making a good fist of it. Against the Sharks on Monday night, the Storm No.1 ran for 295 metres, scored a try, assisted another, and had six tackle busts and a line-break assist. He's been learning from the best, and is a big part of why the Storm are still in with a shot of finishing the regular season in the top four.