Stat Attack: Milford and Lewis kicking into new territory
After 23 rounds there had been just a single game in which one player kicked more than 600 metres but it happened twice in round 24, and it's no coincidence Anthony Milford and Lachlan Lewis were two of the best players with the boot over the weekend.
NRL.com Stats also reveal Brisbane are the long-kicking masters of the Telstra Premiership.
Milford has worn heavy criticism this year in games the Broncos have lost, in part because he and halves partner Kodi Nikorima are both run-first players rather than organisers by nature.
But in the games where they have played well it has been Milford leading the way.
There is a lot more to guiding a team around than kicking well.
But if you analyse his kicking game, Milford has averaged just over 400 metres per game this year. Last season with Ben Hunt in the team it was only 145.
His 615 kick metres against the Roosters last weekend was the biggest kicking tally of any player in a game this year and was just one part of what was arguably Milford's best all-round performance this season.
He ran for just 35 metres but set up a try and was composed and in control throughout the match.
Lewis, the Canterbury five-eighth enjoying a breakout rookie season, is far less experienced but has been a breath of fresh air in his eight first-grade appearances. His 354 kick metres in his previous game, against the Warriors, was his career-high before blowing that out of the water with 601 in a huge win over the Dragons, from a massive 23 kicks. He also set up a try in what was arguably the best game of his career.
He joined Milford and Mitchell Pearce (612 kick metres against the Eels in round 18) as the only players to kick more than 600 metres in a game this season.
From a team perspective, while there is no guarantee that kicking more metres will win you the game, there does appear to be some correlation.
On only six occasions this year has a team kicked more than 700 metres in a game; Brisbane are responsible for three of those and five of the six have resulted in victories.
The incredible 991 metres booted by the Broncos against the Roosters last weekend was the first time this year a team had even kicked 800 metres. Kodi Nikorima also booted a personal season-high 256 metres.
Their 991 is more than 200 metres more than the next-most, which was also by Brisbane, with 774 against the Eels in round 12.
The Eels themselves (759 in a round-19 win over Canterbury) have the next-biggest kick metre tally ahead of the Bulldogs (738 last weekend against the Dragons), Brisbane again (725 in a round-five loss to the Knights) and Penrith (701 against the Cowboys in round four despite the absence of Nathan Cleary).