Stats that matter: Round 6
Here are the key numbers and quirky stats from Round 6 of the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership season.
Grand final rematch doesn't disappoint
Sunday's game in Melbourne had every statistician across the country searching frantically through their databases for some kooky numbers to explain what was happening in the grand final rematch. In the end, Cronulla kicked away for an 11-2 win over the Storm – their first victory at AAMI Park and their first in Melbourne since 2008 – but for a long time it looked like we were headed for a 2-2 stalemate.
Here are some of the key stats to come out of the game: it was the first time the Storm had been held try-less in Melbourne, it was the fifth time in eight games the Sharks had been held scoreless at half-time at the venue and it was the first time James Segeyaro had scored a try against the Storm from seven attempts. Had he not gone over, it would have been the first tryless match since Canterbury beat Illawarra 4-2 in 1993, although we have seen that scoreline recently (Storm v Warriors 2007).
Had the game finished 2-2, it would have been the lowest-scoring game sent to golden point, beating the record held by the Bulldogs and Eels (7-7) set in 2011. If the match had ended 3-2, it would have been the third grand final rematch in a row decided by exactly one point.
Fullbacks and wingers have been put on notice; the 40/20 is back baby! Last year we only saw 25 of them kicked but six weeks into the new season and we've already had 13 game-changing 40/20s. To put it into context, at the same stage last season there had only been eight kicked.
Rapana busting rhymes and tackles
Whichever way you look at it, Jordan Rapana had himself a night to remember against the Titans. The Raiders winger was on fire with a first-half hat-trick, but it was his 19 tackle breaks that really stood out, especially when you consider Gold Coast managed 14 as a team!
Change of 'four-tunes' for the Warriors
It was one of many coin-flip games in Round 6, but one thing that appeared to be a lock across the ditch was how many tries the Warriors would concede. The New Zealanders had allowed exactly four tries in each of their first five matches but showed plenty of grit to hold Parramatta to just a pair of four-pointers in what was their best defensive performance since Round 22 last year (14 points against the Titans). Maybe it had something to do with Kieran Foran.
If 'catches win matches' in cricket, then 'completions wins competitions' in the rugby league world. Just ask Craig Bellamy and Cameron Smith who are at a loss to explain why Melbourne can't hold onto the ball. Granted, the Storm have played in some miserable conditions in 2017, but it's not pretty reading when it comes to their ball-handling. The Storm have made the most errors (73) through six rounds, which is remarkable given they only made 212 mistakes (best in the NRL) throughout 2016. That said, they didn't get off to a great start last season, with the minor premiers committing 56 errors in the first six weeks of the competition in 2016.
A dance with Dragons
Historians are going through their paperwork to find out whether Paul McGregor has some Targaryen blood in him after the master coach guided his Dragons to their fifth win from six starts to sit pretty atop the Telstra Premiership ladder. Their win over Manly on Saturday was their first at Lottoland since 2008, and was one point shy of eclipsing their biggest win at the venue (36-10) set in 2005. Scriptwriters were licking their lips when they saw the Dragons were scheduled to play the Cowboys this weekend, but alas, Johnathan 'the king in the north' Thurston will miss the clash through injury, with ailments spreading through their side like wildfire.
Duck eggs to replace Easter eggs
Don't be surprised to see a few teams held to nil this weekend. The Eels held the Tigers scoreless in the Easter Monday game last year, the Roosters beat the Knights 38-0 in 2016, the Cowboys thrashed the Dragons 36-0 12 months ago while the Broncos beat the Titans 34-0 the last time they played a regular season game at Suncorp Stadium. And how could we forget the time Melbourne beat Manly 40-0 in the Holden Cup in 2011, or another meeting between these teams in a Grand Final...