By the Numbers: NRL Grand Final
Milford shines in a losing effort, Thurston's "quiet" night, and the areas the Broncos and Cowboys couldn't be split. The key numbers and statistics that defined the 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final.
Regardless of the final result, there was a strong case for Anthony Milford to be awarded the Clive Churchill Medal on Sunday night. The first-year Bronco showcased his brilliant running game, making 17 runs for 219 metres, along with seven tackle busts, two line breaks and a line-break assist. While it wasn't to be the Broncos' night, both Milford (21) and Ben Hunt (25) still have their best years ahead of them, which is a scary thought for the rest of the competition.
He collected the Clive Churchill Medal as man of the match, but it might come as some surprise that Johnathan Thurston had no direct involvement in creating any of his side's tries or line breaks in the Grand Final. After dominating these two statistics during the season with 33 try assists and the same number of line-break assists, Thurston didn't produce in either category in the decider with Jake Granville (two try assists) and Michael Morgan laying on the four-pointers. Thurston's class did come to the fore in other ways with a line break, two goals from three attempts and the match-winning field goal.
Both men who donned the No.13 jersey for their respective sides can hold their head high, with a strong showing from the two tight forwards. Brisbane workhorse and NRL Fantasy legend Corey Parker ran for 170 metres, made 44 tackles and snuck away two offloads. New Zealand international Jason Taumalolo also made his presence felt for the 2015 premiers, with 178 metres and 30 tackles. Both players made no errors or conceded a single penalty, perhaps surprising given their high involvement in the middle of the park.
Amazingly given the result, North Queensland missed 33 tackles, considerably more than the Broncos' 24 for the match. It was Brisbane's backs which proved the most trouble for the Cowboys defence, with Milford (seven), Hunt (five), Jordan Kahu (four), Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, Jack Reed (all two) and Justin Hodges (one) all breaking at least one tackle.
Talk about balanced. This game was delicately poised right the way across the 80 minutes, with golden point needed to separate the two sides. They couldn't be split in the discipline department either, with both sides making exactly 10 errors and conceding four penalties.