Cowboys and Storm to top forward battles

BATTLE OF THE FORWARDS IN NRL PRELIMINARY FINALS

CRONULLA VS NORTH QUEENSLAND

North Queensland’s forwards are an average of five kilograms bigger than their Cronulla opponents, and they know it. They’re no fuss, no frills, but they get the job done. They’ve out-run their Sharks opponents by 43 metres per game this season, despite taking eight less runs than them per match.

Relying on sheer power, they bend the opposition’s defensive line with brute strength, making on average 9.62 metres per run. Both Scott Bolton and Matt Scott average exactly 10 metres per run, while wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo has gone at 10.9 per metres per carry, busting through 78 would-be tacklers along the way.

In comparison, Cronulla’s forwards offer plenty for their team close to the line. They’ve produced 197 offloads this year, 108 more than their Cowboys’ opponents. They also have the ability to break the line open, busting through an average of 13.65 tackles per match, four more than the North Queensland big men.

KEY STAT LEADERS:

Metres per game: 169 – Jason Taumalolo (NQ)

Runs per game: 22.1 Paul Gallen (CRO)

Metres per run: 10.9 – Jason Taumalolo (NQ)

Tackles per game: 33.4 – Michael Ennis (CRO)

Offloads: 63 – Andrew Fifita (CRO)

Tackle busts – 87 – Andrew Fifita (CRO)

PACK VS PACK – AVERAGE MATCH STATS:

Metres: CRO 862 – NQ 905

Runs: CRO 103 – NQ 94

Metres per run: CRO 8.38 – NQ 9.62

Offloads: CRO 10 – NQ 4

Tackle busts: CRO 14 – NQ 9

Tackles: CRO 218 – NQ 220

Average size (kg): CRO 101 – NQ 106

MELBOURNE V CANBERRA

A Canberra forward onslaught awaits Melbourne in Saturday night’s preliminary final at AAMI Park.

While both packs make near-identical number of metres, the Raiders’ have broken some 60-more tackles than their Storm opposition this season. Queensland enforcer Josh Papalli leads the way with 51 tackle busts but it’s Ricky Stuart’s bench that will have Craig Bellamy worried. Joseph Tapine makes more than 10 metres a run, while Paul Vaughan contributes a team-high 118m per match.

For the Storm, prop Jesse Bromwich is a cut above the rest. The New Zealand international makes more runs (14.7) and metres per game (139) than any other forward in the team, to go with 43 offloads and 41 tackles busts for the year. Fellow Kiwi Tohu Harris looms as a danger on the fringe, having scored eight tries in 2016.

In the battle of the hookers, English import Josh Hodgson has set up 17 tries, the same number as halves Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer combined.

Cameron Smith isn’t far behind with 15 try assists but the Raiders will need to be wary of the Storm skipper’s boot. Smith tops the NRL for 40/20s, with five.

KEY STAT LEADERS:

Metres per game: 139 – Jesse Bromwich (MEL)

Runs per game: 14.7 – Jesse Bromwich (MEL)

Tackles per game: 38.1 – Cameron Smith (MEL)

Offloads: 43 – Jesse Bromwich (MEL)

Tackle busts: 51 – Josh Papalii (CAN)

PACK VS PACK – AVERAGE MATCH STATS:

Metres: MEL 822 – CAN 826

Runs: MEL 91 – CAN 90

Metres per run: MEL9.03 – CAN – 9.18

Tackles: MEL 239 – CAN 220

Offloads: MEL 134 – CAN 116

Tackle busts: MEL 215 – CAN 280

Average size (kg): MEL 105 – CAN 103

* Stats courtesy Fox Sports Stats

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!