Stat Attack: Myth of the missed tackle II – are Knights the NRL's best tacklers?
A statistical quirk from Newcastle's defensive statistics reinforce the idea that missed tackle statistics always need to be used in context.
Earlier in the year, NRL.com Stats delved into Penrith half James Maloney's burgeoning missed tackle count and discovered that, with the aid of a few other metrics, Maloney was actually far from the worst defensive half in the NRL despite missing easily the most tackles of any player.
Through 21 rounds, the 11th-placed Knights have conceded an NRL-high 513 points yet amazingly, have the best tackle effectiveness of any team.
Tackle efficiency is calculated by tackles effected divided by tackles attempted; a missed tackle or an ineffective one (an attempted tackle where the carrier produces an offload) lowers a team's tackle efficiency.
Newcastle's 88.6% effective is top of the tree, just ahead of Melbourne's 88.3%.
The Knights aren't the only anomaly here though – fellow strugglers Parramatta (88.2%) and Canterbury (88.0%) round out the top four. The fifth-placed Panthers (86.1%) have the worst tackle efficiency.
The rest of the bottom five by tackle effectiveness are non-finals teams with all the top eight sides other than Melbourne and Penrith sitting mid-table between fifth (Souths, 87.9%) and 11th (Warriors, 87.0%) for tackle efficiency.
For missed tackles, Penrith (764) remain the worst, ahead of Wests Tigers (757) and the Warriors (730) while the Dragons (532) and Storm (535) concede the fewest.
When it comes to ineffective tackles, the Roosters (385) are the worst, with the Dragons (337) just behind. The Knights (595) are sixth-best.
The Panthers and Warriors switch ends when it comes to ineffective tackles with Penrith (253) just ahead of the Warriors (260) and Knights (273).
Clearly, Newcastle's effectiveness in any given tackle situation does not advantage them over the long term with the club conceding the most points (513), try causes (183) and third-most break causes (201) in the competition.
This highlights yet again that teams that can scramble and recover from missed tackles, like Penrith and Wests Tigers, do better defensively than teams with ongoing defensive structure issues or with a habit of producing one-on-one misses leading to breaks.
Among individual players, after Maloney (137) the most missed tackles come from Ben Hunt (88), Luke Brooks (82), Johnathan Thurston (81) and Chad Townsend (79). All are halves, and four of the five are from better defensive teams (Thurston's Cowboys being the exception).
The most misses by any Knights player are the 60 from Aidan Guerra (equal 18th most) and 57 from Mitch Barnett (24th most) but both make enough tackles that their overall percentage remains good.