By the Numbers: NRL Round 25
The race for top spot heats up, Manly's slim chances of making the finals, hat-tricks galore and a scorned skipper reminds everyone what he's capable of. The key numbers and statistics that defined Round 25 of the 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership.
The race for the minor premiership took another swerve in Round 25, with the Cowboys dropping out of contention following their loss to the Storm on Saturday night. The Broncos and Roosters however signalled their intentions with massive victories against the Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles respectively, to go clear at the top of the table on 38 competition points. With Brisbane welcoming the Storm to Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night and the Roosters facing off against rivals South Sydney on Friday night, it won't be long into the round before we know who will finish on top. With their superior for-and-against however, you'd expect the Tricolours to claim their third consecutive JJ Giltinan Shield.
At the other end of the top eight, the Dragons look assured of a finals berth despite their narrow loss to Gold Coast on Sunday. The Sea Eagles seem out of the contest now, thanks to back-to-back home losses to the Eels and Roosters. But they still remain a mathematical chance of sneaking into eighth place. Manly would need to overcome a 61-point for-and-against differential between themselves and the Dragons, with the Sea Eagles travelling to face the in-form Sharks, while the Red V host the rejuvenated Wests Tigers (who put 50 past the Warriors) in the final round of the regular season. It's incredibly unlikely, but in this competition you just never know.
Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford were South Sydney's main tormentors on Thursday night, with the Brisbane halfback displaying some excellent support play to grab a hat-trick. Meanwhile the Roosters' wingers were the main beneficiaries of their side's dominance the following night at Brookvale Oval, with Brendan Elliot and Daniel Tupou running in three tries each to send the home side packing.
One of the NRL's great enigmas, Dave Taylor, turned it on in his final home game in Titans colours ahead of his move to the Catalans Dragons in 2016. 'The Coal Train' produced 120 metres, 11 tackle breaks, 35 tackles, two offloads, two line breaks and two tries in his side's narrow win over the Dragons.
Told during the week he was surplus to requirements for next season, Wests Tigers skipper Robbie Farah let his performance do the talking against an out-of-sorts Warriors side on Sunday afternoon. The veteran No.9 scored a try and provided three try assists, as well as 37 tackles, five tackles busts, one offload, two line breaks and one line-break assist in a man-of-the-match performance in front of the Campbelltown Stadium faithful. It remains to be seen where Farah's future lies, but one thing is for certain: he still has plenty of offer in the NRL.