Stats that Matter: Round 25
She's become the undisputed queen of pop culture – don't tell Katy Perry – with the release of the official video clip for her smash hit Look What You Made Me Do gaining more attention than the Game of Thrones season final, so to celebrate Taylor Swift's new jam here are the key numbers and quirky stats from Round 25 of the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership season.
Look what you made me do
To celebrate the most anticipated video clip of the year, we've delivered the most useless stat in history. Of the 46 points Canberra piled on the Knights, 42 of them were scored by players whose first name started with the letter 'J'. In fact, had Blake Austin not scored in the final eight minutes, Junior, Jarrod, Jack and Jordan would have partied hard all weekend at Jay Jays in the Canberra Outlet Centre.
It looks like we went off early by declaring Alex Johnston the season's leading try-scorer. The injured Rabbitoh looked odds on with a three-try lead with two rounds remaining but the former clubhouse leader now needs a miracle just to finish level on top after Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu joined him on 22 tries courtesy of a hat-trick against who else but South Sydney. Vunivalu's partner in crime on the left wing, Josh Addo-Carr, also crossed three times marking the first time since Round 21, 2013 that both Storm wingers had scored hat-tricks in the same game. The 'Fox' now has 19 tries in 2017 and is one behind Raider Jordan Rapana who also touched down three times on Friday night.
22 part 2
Storm skipper Cameron Smith must have been feeling like he was 22 following Saturday's huge win over the Bunnies. The Melbourne maestro became the first player in competition history to record 250 wins while Smith's 22-point haul was his best return in his seemingly never-ending career. Just for good measure, Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker also scored 22 points, but he played 22 more minutes than Smith.
Shake it off
While the haters hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, the Storm simply play, play, play, play, play. Should they defeat the Raiders on Saturday night, they'll become the first minor premiers to finish the regular season on 44 competition points (Melbourne achieved the feat in 2006 and 2007 but had their premierships stripped for those seasons). The Storm reached 42 points in 2016 and 2011 while the Parramatta Eels also tallied 42 points in 2001 and that was made more impressive given there were no byes that year.
We are never ever getting back together
My name is Martin and I've got a tipping problem. I had been seven weeks clean but I relapsed last week and tipped the Warriors. I could spin some tale of why I did it, but Ms Swift said it best in 2012. Take it away T-Swizzle.
I remember when we broke up the first time
Saying, "This is it, I've had enough," 'cause like
We hadn't seen each other in a month
When you said you needed space. (What?)
Then you come around again and say
"Baby, I miss you and I swear I'm gonna change, trust me."
Remember how that lasted for a day?
I say, "I hate you," we break up, you call me, "I love you."
Ooh, we called it off again last night
But ooh, this time I'm telling you, I'm telling you
We are never ever, ever getting back together,
We are never ever, ever getting back together,
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me
But we are never ever, ever, ever getting back together.
To be fair, I should never have tipped them. Manly have now beaten the Warriors 13 times from their past 14 meetings with two of the past three decided by Daly Cherry-Evans field goals in golden point. I vow to never tip the Warriors ever again… until Round 2 next year.
There were plenty of blank faces at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night when Kirisome Auva'a touched down after 13 seconds to score the quickest try in NRL history, replacing Reece Robinson's 33-second effort in 2014. The scoring spree never slowed down with the Eels and Broncos combining for 86 points – the sixth most in history and the fourth highest total in the NRL era.
Out of the woods
This would have worked better had Friday night's four-pointer been Aaron Woods's first try of the year but we'll make do with what we've got. Raiders prop Junior Paulo was paying millions to score first against the Knights and he rewarded the brave few who backed him with his first try of 2017. There were a few relieved Bulldogs on the Gold Coast with Will Hopoate and David Klemmer crossing for the first time this season while Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster also avoided the nudie run with a bizarre try against Souths.
It's probably not on the same scale as Taylor Swift's beef with Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian and co, but the Cowboys and Broncos have developed a rivalry that is the rugby league equivalent of MTV's monthly melodrama. There is no animosity between the two Queensland sides; rather they've built a rivalry out of mutual respect and thrilling finishes that was amped up by the epic 2015 grand final. Four of the past five meetings between the teams have been decided by one point, and Thursday's clash is the most important since the 2015 decider with the Broncos needing a win to keep their top-two hopes alive. The scenario is more desperate for North Queensland who must win to secure their place in the post-season. A loss wouldn't necessarily end their campaign, but you don't want to be relying on results to go your way at this stage of the year. It's been their season for battle wounds, battle scars, body bumps and bruises; can they jag a much-needed win or will there be bad blood?