The New Zealand Warriors in 2017.

Stat Attack: Best and worst teams defending the middle

No team likes conceding tries but ask any coach and they'll tell you that if you have to get scored on, you at least want to force the opposition to find a way around you – don't let them stroll through the front door.

So which clubs last year did the best Hodor impression and held the door closed despite an army of opponents doing their best to bash it down?

There's little surprise the better defensive teams are near the top and the worse defensive teams are clustered at the bottom but there were a few notable exceptions from teams who were disproportionately good or bad at defending their middle third.

The Sharks were one of the better defensive teams of 2017, but the fact they were nearly twice as good as the second-best Storm and Sea Eagles at keeping the middle-third sealed is incredible. It's a huge rap for young hooker Jayden Brailey and his combination with middle forwards like Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita and Matt Prior.

At the other end of the scale, the Warriors were only the fourth-worst defensive team through the regular season but in terms of the middle third, the gulf between them and second-worst is bigger than the gap between any other two teams.

It represents a huge challenge for coach Steve Kearney as he looks to reverse the club's habit of conceding easy tries in front of their own goal-posts. While a few of the 24 were long-range tries where the winger was able to run around under the posts, or in some cases tries from kicks, an alarming number involved forwards pushing their way through the middle to plant the ball with alarming ease.

The fact the Roosters were second worst must surely be of concern for coach Trent Robinson, while the Eels were quite high in terms of middle tries conceded for a team that finished fourth.

Despite conceding a mountain of tries on the fringes, one positive for the Titans and Knights is that they were only mid-table for tries conceded up the middle.