NUMBERS GAME: WARRIORS RD 14 STATS

The Warriors’ 34-14 beatdown of Manly went against a number of recent trends for the club. It ended a seven-match losing streak against the Sea Eagles and was just their second win in 15 encounters between the club.

Incredibly, it was also just the Warriors’ seventh win in 29 games at New Zealand venues not including their Mount Smart Stadium base, and their third victory in seven visits to Christchurch.

The Warriors’ tally of points was their highest of the season to date, while the 20-point margin was a much-needed boost to a less than flattering for-and-against. They are ranked a modest ninth in attack and eighth defensively.

The result kept the Warriors’ 2018 record intact of not losing back-to-back games, though they have not won consecutive matches since Round 5.

The Warriors’ 9-4 record represents just the second time in their history (the other being 2002) they have won move than seven of their first 13 games.

David Fusitu’a’s hat-trick at Rugby League Park – which took just nine minutes to complete from start to finish – saw him take a three-try lead at the top of the NRL’s tryscoring charts. He also notched a try-assist and 122 metres in arguably his best showing of 2018 so far.

‘Fus’ has 15 tries from 13 games this season, taking his career tally to 47 from 70 first-grade games. His current strike-rate of 0.7 tries per game sees him edge ahead of Manu Vatuvei as the most potent Warriors try-scorer among players that have crossed for more than seven tries for the club.

He is just eight tries short of Francis Meli’s club record for tries in a season (23 in 2003) and, if he maintains his current strike-rate, is on course to become the first player since Newtown’s Ray Preston and South Sydney’s Les Brennan (both 1954) to score more than 27 tries in a season.

Remarkably, Solomone Kata is outright second on the Warriors’ tryscoring charts with just four. Kata powered through 140 metres from 10 carries and is averaging 99 per game this season.

Ken Maumalo had another terrific night out with a game-high (and a season-high for Big Ken) 186 metres from 18 carries, a line-break, two offloads and six tackle-busts.

He’s ranked sixth in the NRL for run metres (second among wingers), with his average of 142 similar to his 2017 numbers. But the biggest area of improvement is in his error count. After tallying 21 in 23 games last year, he has just seven errors in 13 games – and none in his last four.

Of the 25 wingers who have made 130-plus runs in the NRL so far this season, just two have made less errors than Maumalo. His tackle efficiency has also climbed from a modest 63.4% last year to a career-best 73.5% in 2018.

Peta Hiku also deserves a big wrap for his faultless 20-run, 160-metre contribution against former club Manly after being pitched into the fullback role again. Primarily used at centre, Hiku is averaging 113 metres per game and is the team’s top offloader with 25 (sixth in the NRL).

His two appearances in the custodian role in recent weeks have allowed him to reduce his missed tackle rate, but he still has a team-high 44 against his name (sixth in the NRL).

Shaun Johnson returned from injury with a vengeance, chalking up two try-assists, a try, a line-break and six runs for 94 metres.

Johnson has a team-high eight try-assists despite playing just seven games. He leads all NRL halfbacks in average line-breaks (0.7 per game) and tackle-busts (3.6), and is third among No.7s for run metres per game (55) and try-assists (1.1).

He also became just the 12th player in Warriors history to bring up 150 appearances.

Tohu Harris was an absolute stats monster once again, scoring a try, making 37 tackles and leading the Warriors pack with 142 metres on 15 carries. He is the only Warriors forward averaging over 100 metres per game (103) and is third in the team for tackles per game (28.7).

Isaiah Papali’i topped the tackle count with 39 stops, lifting his season average to 25.1, and was also busy with the ball courtesy of a try and 11 runs for 95 metres.

Simon Mannering produced a strong performance off the bench – 28 tackles and nine carries for 95 metres – and leads the club for tackles per game with 31.7.

Agnatius Paasi was the Warriors’ most impressive front-rower, topping 100 running metres for the third straight week (129) and the sixth time in 11 games this season.

We’ve been highly critical of Adam Blair’s numbers (while recognised the off-the-ball qualities he brings) and a return of five runs for 53 metres and 16 tackles was not exactly heartening.

Blair’s averages of 56 metres per game and 0.3 tackle-busts per game are comfortably the lowest amongst the NRL’s regular starting No.13s, and his 23.2 tackles per game isn’t far off the same. His minutes have decreased in recent weeks but he still averages 57.4 across the first 13 games.

Looking at the positives, Blair hasn’t conceded a penalty in five games (after giving away five in the first five rounds) and hasn’t missed a tackle in the past fortnight.

THE PUNT

The following bets paid out after the Warriors’ 34-14 win over Manly (via NZ TAB):

-Warriors Win @ $1.60
-Warriors -3.5 @ $1.87
-Warriors 13 & Over @ $3.10
-Shaun Johnson to Score a Try @ $3.00

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