Stats that matter: Round 18
They say the NRL and Tolkien don't mix, but last weekend proved the naysayers wrong with fans of league and literature treated to a dedicated Middle Earth pop up channel as well as Round 18 of the Telstra Premiership.
Speak friend, and enter
When the Fellowship were stopped in their tracks at the Doors of Durin at the foot of the Walls of Moria, Gandalf thought he had to simply speak the old tongue to enter the great caves. Alas, the wizard was stopped in his tracks by the riddle, with the word 'friend' proving to be his undoing. It's been more than a few years since that roadblock, but Jake Friend is proving to be a modern day brick wall with a whopping 191 tackles in his last three games. After lasting just three minutes in the Round 14 win over the Tigers, the Roosters co-captain has led from the front with 65, 65 and 61 tackles to soar into the top three tacklers this season.
 Telstra Premiership: Jake Friend
Tackles, Line Break Assists, Try Assists, Offloads.
Legolas might have been Middle Earth's greatest archer, but even his bow was no match for a tenacious Orc who survived not one but two arrows to the upper torso before blasting a hole in the Deeping Wall at Helm's Deep with Saruman's fire of Orthanc device. It was the Orc's determined charge that paved the way for his comrades to breach Rohan's defences, and it was a similar scenario on Friday night as Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves played the role of battering ram in his side's gutsy win over the Rabbitohs. The in-form big man carted the ball forward for a season-high 216 metres on a night that saw him play out the first 40 minutes for the second time against South Sydney this year.
That still only counts as one
The Sea Eagles suffered their second loss away from Lottoland this season, but Saturday night's defeat at the hands of the Panthers was their first on the road in 2017. Their Round 10 loss at Suncorp Stadium was a home game that they'd taken to Brisbane as part of the double-header, which meant they headed into Saturday's contest with a 6-0 record away from home this season. So while it might seem like an anomaly, Saturday's loss only counts as one; much like Legolas's impressive takedown of a Mûmakil in the Return of the King.
You shall not pass
It was pretty clear that Gandalf directed this famous line towards the Balrog, but for a moment it seemed as if those words had resonated quite strongly with Semi Radradra. The Eels winger has built a reputation as one of the toughest players to bring down, but from rounds 8-17, the Semi-trailer managed just two line breaks. It took the flying Fijian 10 minutes to equal that tally with a pair of powerful carries on Saturday night setting the tone for one of his best games of the season. Radradra would add two more to finish with four for the match, equalling his haul against the Dragons in Round 2 earlier in the year as well as his four line breaks in the 2015 season opener against Manly.
 Radradra Semi - Eels
One stat to rule them all
What is it with the Bulldogs and conceding 80th-minute penalties from short kick-offs when leading by two? Josh Reynolds's brain snap in his Belmore swansong could have come back to cost his side dearly, but thankfully for the local hero, Brock Lamb's shot at goal never got off the ground. You'd think the Bulldogs would have learnt their lesson after they conceded a penalty at the death in Week One of the 2015 finals when Shaun Lane was ruled to have been offside from a deflection that gifted the Dragons a kick from 30 metres out that levelled the scores. A loss on Sunday would have seen their hopes of claiming the premiership ring go up in smoke, but thanks to a stroke of fortune, they are still alive in 2017.