Your Edge – NRL Round 15 Preview

Your Edge – NRL Round 15 Preview

Round 15 of the 2022 NRL season is here and so is Your Edge. This week we’re looking into the bounceback factor at the Bulldogs, the potential for another at the Tigers, the most influential attacking players, and Josh Addo-Carr’s pending return to State of Origin.

Bulldogs Bounce Back

We’ve heard plenty about the new coach bounce in recent weeks. The narrative usually comes from hopeful fans desperate for a change in fortunes following the sacking of their coach. However, it takes a little bit more than simply changing the voice for a week to see improvements. The Bulldogs, Tigers and Warriors all lost the week following the dismissal of their coach. None of them went particularly close to winning. But four weeks after Trent Barrett moved on from the Bulldogs, we’re starting to see results.

Mick Potter made the required changes to the team list and has inspired a more expansive style of play with the ball. An eye-sore with the ball throughout the first ten rounds, the Bulldogs are now getting up the field and putting up decent attacking numbers. They’ve scored more points in four games under Potter than they did in ten under Barrett.

Bulldogs: Round 1-10 v 11-14

It took more than a bounce across one week for the Bulldogs to play this well. They still have a battle on their hands to avoid the wooden spoon. Still, they’re seeing the results of a new coach now and it will be interesting to see where the Tigers and Warriors side are at in three weeks time.

Improving The Tigers

So, where does Brett Kimmorley need to start when it comes to getting the Wests Tigers back on track?

Defence is the obvious point; the Tigers concede the fourth-most points at 25.2 per game. While making tackles and working harder to be in position is the clear and obvious fix, both are made easier by performing better through the middle with the ball.

The Tigers are 15th in the NRL in yardage with 1,398 running metres per game. They lose the yardage battle most weeks which translates into poor field position. You can see the Penrith Panthers way out in front when it comes to kick return metres. A lot of that comes down to where the opposition is forced to kick from on 5th tackle. Where Dylan Edwards is receiving the ball on the 30-metre line and given 10-15 metres to wind up on his return, the Tigers back three are often tackled shortly after catching the ball. That increases the distance the forwards need to travel, promotes fatigue, and translates into tired middles on both sides of the ball.

2022 NRL Stats

It won’t be an easy fix for Kimmorley but it’s clear what the Tigers need to work on if they’re to be playing at a similar level to the Bulldogs a month after their head coach was sacked.

Interestingly, the Tigers are set to release Luciano Leilua from his contract to join the Cowboys for the rest of the NRL season. Given his influence on the side and his ability with the ball where the Tigers so often struggle, it’s a clear sign of where the club is at for the remainder of this year.

Backrowers in 2022

The Tigers are the second-worst attacking team in the NRL averaging only 13.1 points per game so it isn’t a shock to see Leilua at the bottom end of the raw attacking numbers above. However, his tackle-breaking and offload ability can be valuable in yardage and should have been a feature of their improvements in that area. Nonetheless, the Tigers are moving in a different direction. Hopefully for them it’s through the middle and up the field across the remaining ten rounds of the season.

Attacking Output

When looking down the list of players ranked by attack percentage (proportion of team tries + try assists + linebreaks + linebreak assists) a few names jump out straight away.

Tesi Niu at the top comes as a surprise until you remember he only played five games at a time the Broncos did very little with the ball overall. Less of a surprise is Adam Reynolds at third on the list. He arrived at the Broncos as an organiser and a halfback that will march this inexperienced side around the field. While he has done that, Reynolds has contributed more to the raw numbers than anybody expected to have four tries, 11 try assists, two linebreaks and five linebreak assists through ten games.

Attacking %: Tries + Try Assists + Linebreaks + Linebreak Assists

Kalyn Ponga and Matt Burton are the key playmakers in poor teams and rank towards the top of the list adding roughly 20% of the attacking actions for their respective teams.

Mitchell Moses leads the NRL in try assists with 18 already in 2022. He’s on track to smash his previous career-high of 25 try assists back in 2019. His partnership with Dylan Brown who is also in the Top 20 in this department is at a premiership-winning quality when it’s all clicking for the Eels. Scott Drinkwater and Tom Dearden have come from nowhere to provide the same quality for the Cowboys this season. They’re playing with the third-best attack in the NRL averaging 25 points per game with Thirsty and his five-eighth combining for over 30% of North Queensland’s attacking numbers. Dearden, in particular, has handed out more try assists in 13 games this season (9) than he did throughout the first 34 games of his career (7).

Addo-Carr Back In Blue?

Nobody thought we’d be here talking about Josh Addo-Carr’s return to the New South Wales Blues side because nobody expected him to be dropped in the first place. But here we are…

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs winger scored three tries and ended up with 197 running metres in Round 14 to possibly force Brad Fittler’s hand. As if he needs any more reason to reconsider Addo-Carr, the numbers add to the argument. Unsurprisingly, Addo-Carr’s try-scoring has been impacted by moving to what has been the worst attacking team in the NRL this season. That shouldn’t be a reason not to select him. Instead, consider his yardage game, tackle breaks and offloads, and his NRL-high (for non-hookers) 28 dummy-half runs this year.

Josh Addo-Carr: 2018-2022

He’s into everything and is doing all he can to lift the Bulldogs off the bottom of the ladder. While there is only so much Addo-Carr can do from the wing, he’s leaving no stone unturned and should be part of the Blues side looking to level the series with the Queensland Maroons in Game 2.

Daniel Tupou has been named to play for Mate Ma’a Tonga during Representative Round. Whether that has come before or after a call with Brad Fittler remains to be seen. Nonetheless, Addo-Carr deserves a recall and can be counted on to play a blinder if he runs out there next Sunday.

NRL Value Plays

The Punters Preview and NRL Draftstars Preview is in for Round 15.

The Punter’s Preview looks at try scorer & player performance markets as well as NRL Draftstars stats and advice. If you’re enjoying our free content & data tools, follow us on social media & join our Discord channel where we discuss all things NRL, NBA & Cricket.

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