Pictured: Vodafone Warriors prop Ben Matulino charging upfield again through the Dragons' middle. He clocked up 162 metres from a game-high 19 runs. Photo: Photosport.
The numbers that matter most have finished decisively against the Vodafone Warriors in their first two outings of the 2014 NRL season but there were a lot more positives among team and individual statistics against the Dragons at Eden Park on Saturday.
In the first-up loss all the key numbers were in the Eels’ favour.
Parramatta had more sets (38-32), completed more (28-23), made more metres (1377-1046), had more runs (147-131), made more line breaks (8-3), made fewer tackles (263-292), missed fewer tackles (22-38) and made more tackle breaks (38-22). The only team numbers where the Vodafone Warriors enjoyed parity was in errors (12-12) and penalties (9-9). One of the few positives was forcing two goal-line drop outs to none.
There were some redeeming features among individual feats with the influential Manu Vatuvei making an impressive 157 metres from 15 runs, Ben Matulino 126 from 15 and Jacob Lillyman 123 from 15. In his NRL debut Sam Tomkins had two try assists, two line break assists and was heavily involved throughout with 48 receives, a high number for a fullback. Nathan Friend topped all tacklers with 46 while Jayson Bukuya, Sam Rapira and Suaia Matagi made 28 each.
Move forward to round two and the numbers from experienced provider NRL Stats indicated the Vodafone Warriors had far more opportunity than they did against Parramatta.
They had the same number of sets in possession as the Dragons (38) and completed close to the same number (27-29). The Vodafone Warriors led in other areas including most runs (170-146), most metres gained (1381-1224), tackles made (308-356), tackles missed (15-23) and goal-line drop outs forced (3-1). The teams were level in line breaks (3-3) and penalties (7-7). One of the few negatives was the error count, the Vodafone Warriors making 13 to the Dragons’ 10.
In the individual stakes there several strong efforts. Besides scoring his first NRL try, Tomkins again underlined his heavy rate of involvement with 51 receives. No other fullback – Billy Slater included – has come close to matching him in that area so far this season; most fullbacks have had between 20-30 receives a game. Against the Dragons he carried the ball 18 times for 131 metres.
Up front Matulino and Lillyman were well beyond the 100-metre mark again, Matulino with 162 metres from 19 runs and Lillyman 124 from 15. Bukuya gained 122 metres from 15 runs while Rapira (97) and Matagi (94) went close to 100 metres.
Friend knocked up his first half century of the year in the tackling department with 57 while Bukuya made 27, Feleti Mateo 26 and Jerome Ropati 25.