Sharks behind in attacking stakes: stats - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sharks behind in attacking stakes: stats

By Todd Balym 10/04/2009 03:25:05 PM Comments (0)

It is official - Cronulla is the least effective attacking team in the NRL's 12-year history.

Last year's equal minor premiers have fallen so far behind in the attacking stakes that their output in 2009 is rated more lacklustre than some of the worst teams from the past decade.

The Sharks have just one win and a string of three losses to their name in 2009, scoring an average of 1.8 tries, 12 points and just 1.8 linebreaks per game.

It is well below the efforts of Wests Tigers (27.5 points, 5 tries, 5.5 linebreaks per game), who lead all three categories despite just two wins this year, and Saturday's opponent Canberra (17.2 points, 3 tries, 3.5 linebreaks) who like Cronulla have just one win this year.

Making matters worse for Cronulla, their current output is only just above half of their 2008 performance when they also struggled to score points.

Wooden spooners of years past - Gold Coast (1998), Wests (1999) and South Sydney (2003 and 2006) - all out-rank Cronulla in linebreaks, points and tries scored.

The former Chargers come closest to matching Cronulla's low output with 12 points, 2.2 tries and 5.6 linebreaks per game in a season when they claimed just four victories.

While those three statistical areas are not the be-all and end-all for rugby league performance, you can't win unless you score enough points.

Cronulla's quest to turn their attack around has received a boost with star recruit Trent Barrett back at five-eighth after missing a week with a neck injury, but it's also suffered a setback with skipper Paul Gallen one of three players suspended.

Hooker Terence Seu Seu comes in for his first NRL game of the year while under 20s stars Matthew Wright and Johnny Mannah will make their debuts off the bench this Saturday at Toyota Stadium.

Sharks assistant coach Shane Flanagan said the club was disappointed to lose Gallen, Misi Taulapapa and Kade Snowden to suspensions but is excited by what the under 20s rookies can bring to the team.

"While it is disappointing to lose some players, especially with the experience like Paul Gallen and so on, it's an opportunity for some young blokes to come through," said Flanagan.

"They've been going really well in the 20s.

"(Mannah) is a strong and robust type player. He will carry the ball forward well for us."

Mannah, the younger brother of Parramatta's Tim Mannah, said his NRL debut has come a lot sooner than expected after leaving the Eels last year.

"It's certainly come a little quicker than I expected to tell you the truth," Mannah said.

"(Canberra) are playing well but hopefully we will get over the top of them.

"We are due for a win."

Canberra meanwhile have lost Trevor Thurling to an ankle injury, and suspended him over an alleged drink-driving offence stemming from a car accident on Thursday night, while Nigel Plum remains in doubt with a rib injury.

Shaun Fensom is expected to make his NRL debut replacing Thurling, while Troy Thompson and Dane Tilse could come in for Plum if necessary.

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