Stats that matter: Round 12
Cronulla's impenetrable defence, Warriors back on the big stage at last and Jarrod Croker headed for greatness. Here are the key numbers and quirky stats from Round 12 of the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership season.
Cronulla's defence as impenetrable as a shark cage
Some teams like to blow their opponents off the park with scorching attack; others prefer to strangle their rivals into submission with dogged defence. Cronulla's 9-8 win over Canterbury sans their State of Origin stars was the sort of performance Roosters coach Trent Robinson wanted to see from his side. The gripping nature of the contest should come as no surprise given the Sharks have now won 10 matches since the start of the 2016 season when they've scored less than 20 points (only the Storm, with 12, have recorded more). Incredibly, Saturday night was the first time they'd won a match when held to single digits since their 6-2 win over the Rabbitohs in Round 4, 1998.
One for the trainspotters
Here's one that might have slipped past Eels fans on the weekend. Following on from their 22-16 loss to the Raiders in Round 11, Parramatta bounced back with a 22-16 win over the Rabbitohs a week later. You'd think repeat scores in back-to-back games would be pretty rare, but surprisingly the Sharks managed consecutive 18-14 wins over the Dragons and Cowboys in rounds 10 and 11. Going back to 2016, the Storm beat the Raiders 14-12 in the preliminary final, only to lose to Cronulla by the same score the following week. Parramatta also claimed a 22-18 win over the Roosters in Round 18 last year only to lose 22-18 to the Panthers the following week.
Croker headed for greatness
We've all been amazed by Cameron Smith's seemingly endless record-breaking season, but there will come a time in the not too distant future when Jarrod Croker trumps the Storm skipper's efforts. Croker is only 26 years of age but has already notched 201 NRL games, and on Sunday broke through the 1,500-point barrier with a try against the Roosters. Hazem el Masri is still 900 points away – and you get the feeling Smith and Johnathan Thurston could better his mark of 2,418 competition points – but it won't take long for the record-breaking Raider to surpass them all if he keeps up his current form.
Shark Park puts on a show
It turns out Bulldogs fans don't mind travelling to the Shire after 20,497 people flocked to Southern Cross Group Stadium to watch their side take on the Sharks in what was their first meeting at the venue since 2011. It was a terrific advertisement for club footy when most people are focussed solely on State of Origin. It was the first time the Sharks had drawn a home crowd of over 20,000 for a non-derby game against rivals the Dragons since 20,380 watched their side go down to the Roosters in 2002.
Warriors back on the big stage
What do Liverpool FC, the University of California Golden Bears, T-Pain and the Warriors all have in common? They've all played at ANZ Stadium once since 2011. It should come as no surprise that an EPL giant, a college football team and a man proficient in auto-tune have only graced the Olympic venue once in the past six years, but it's incredible to think the Warriors have played just one NRL match at the venue since the 2011 grand final. Their most recent trip to Homebush was a 26-22 loss to the Bulldogs in Round 26, 2015 but the lengthy wait is about to come to an end with the New Zealanders set to face the Eels in primetime on Friday night. Just for good measure, they'll also play the Rabbitohs at ANZ in Round 24.