By the Numbers: NRL Finals Week 2
The key stats to come out of the second week of the NRL Finals Series, as the Roosters and Cowboys stayed alive and the Bulldogs and Sharks bowed out of contention.
James Maloney enjoyed another stellar night with the boot against the Bulldogs, kicking six from six conversions plus a penalty goal that opened the scoring in the first semi-final of the weekend. Canterbury used three different kickers, with Tim Lafai, Tim Browne and Moses Mbye unable to add the extras from their side's three four-pointers. Although it certainly didn't cost them the game, with regular goal-kicker Trent Hodkinson on his way up the M1 to Newcastle it's an area the Dogs will need to address in 2016.
The Tricolours tightened up their defence in the second week of the finals missing just 13 tackles across the team, compared to 43 for the Bulldogs. The only Roosters player to miss more than one tackle was rookie halfback Jackson Hastings (four). It represented a large turnaround on their efforts a week earlier against the Storm, when Trent Robinson's side missed 30 tackles.
It's unclear what exactly was happening but both flanks at Allianz Stadium on Friday night may as well have been coated in grease as the eight wingers and centres combined for 17 errors between them. Daniel Tupou, Blake Ferguson, Curtis Rona, Josh Morris (all three each), Tim Lafai (two), Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Sam Perrett (all one each) didn't have the safest of outings, but Kenny-Dowall (three), Lafai and Rona all went some way to atone for their mistakes by crossing the stripe.
The Cowboys ran riot over the Sharks on Saturday night, producing 1954 metres from 201 runs, while the Sharks managed just 131 runs for 1118 metres. Starting props Matt Scott (183 metres) and James Tamou (195 metres) were men on a mission, and were ably supported by Gavin Cooper (173 metres), Jason Taumalolo (186 metres), bench forward Scott Bolton (185 metres) and centre Kane Linnett (173 metres). The best for the Sharks was Paul Gallen, who still managed 136 metres despite picking up an ankle injury in the first half, and Andrew Fifita, who ran for 132 metres from the bench.
North Queensland's 39-0 victory over the Sharks was a rare finals shutout, the first time since the first qualifying final between the Roosters and Sea Eagles in 2013 that a side has been held to nil in a finals match. On that occasion, it was a single unconverted four-pointer to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck that proved the difference as the Tricolours prevailed 4-0. The two sides would go on to meet in the decider, with the Roosters again prevailing 26-18 to take out the 2013 premiership.