Numbers only tell part of the tale. In the first of a club-by-club series delving into the 2017 season analytics, Paul Zalunardo examines the major areas in which the Newcastle Knights performed well, and most importantly the areas in which they can improve.
When you have just five wins for the season, the records are never going to be pretty. Four wins from 12 home matches was the best of it. An away record of 1-11 is something the Knights need to quickly rectify.
Fan favourite Nathan Ross was the only Knight to crack double figures for the year. His 10 tries from 20 matches was enough to edge out Lachlan Fitzgibbon (8) and Peter Mata’utia (7).
This was one stat where the Knights fared well. Their average net gain was better than the NRL average. Not surprisingly, Brock Lamb was the leading individual.
In further evidence Brock Lamb was never far from the action, he also topped his side’s averages in this category, well clear of next-best teammate Jamie Buhrer.
The fearless running style of Nathan Ross was reflected in him topping Newcastle’s list. Ross was also the top Knight for kick return metres, post-contact metres and line breaks.
The Knights behaved well in the eyes of the referees, with Mitchell Barnett (22) the only player to concede more than 15 penalties during the season. They had only five players giving up 10 or more penalties.
Newcastle finished mid-table in the errors department with 233 – their mark of 9.7 per game was slightly less than the league average of 10. As individuals, Brock Lamb and now Rabbitohs centre Dane Gagai shared top spot.
Twenty-year-old forward Daniel Saifiti led the way. On 58% of his carries during the season his runs required a group response. Josh Starling was the only other Knight in the NRL’s top 30.
None of the players the Knights used off the bench produced a positive points differential. Sam Stone was the best of their bench mob. Newcastle’s impressive off-season recruitment will give them a lot more depth in 2018 and their bench impact should improve.
In a sign of the troubles the Knights found in pressuring opposition defences at various stages of the season, Nathan Ross was the leader in this category with 12 for the year. The NRL high in this field was 24.