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Stat Attack: Forwards running amok scoring tries as halves go quiet

The try differential between forwards over halves is the biggest it's ever been after five rounds of the NRL era.

According to an NRL.com Stats analysis, forwards are enjoying their biggest dominance over their smaller counterparts in any year from 1998 to now

Whether it is simply a statistical anomaly, an effect of the new rules building fatigue in middle defenders, or simply down to a rich vein of form from a handful of stars like like David Fifita and Viliame Kikau, it's a good time to be a big man in search of the stripe.

There have been 55 tries scored by starting props, second-rowers and locks in 2021 (hookers are deemed as ball-players rather than forwards for the purposes of this analysis but have also been having plenty of joy around the ruck).

Bench forwards are also excluded because historical data does not separate interchange players into forwards or backs.

That 55 is the equal third-most of the NRL era, behind 59 in 2005 and 57 in 2002 – an era before the wrestle in the ruck became so prevalent and where more points were scored overall.

By comparison, starting halfbacks and five-eighths have scored their equal fifth-fewest of the NRL era with 29.

There were 28 at the same point of 2018 and 2019, 24 in 2000 and 23 in 2015.

Despite giving up a five to two numbers advantage on the field, halves have actually outscored forwards in four seasons (2006, 2009, 2013 and 2017).

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The previous biggest differential of 25 came in 2019 but the average differential of forwards over halves after five rounds was just 8.1 from 1998 to 2020.

The biggest contributors to the current forward dominance are Fifita (six) and Kikau (five) while Isaiah Papali'i, Junior Paulo, Daniel Saifiti, Tariq Sims, Ryan Sutton and Sitili Tupouniua have two tries from matches in which they have started.

No half outside of the Rabbitohs (Cody Walker five, Adam Reynolds three) has more than two tries in the 2021 Telstra Premiership.

 

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