NRL 2019: The best Opta facts ahead of round one

The 2019 NRL season begins on Thursday, with last year's losing finalists, Melbourne Storm, taking on Brisbane Broncos at AAMI Park.

Defending champions Sydney Roosters, who open up against city rivals South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday, will start the campaign as strong favourites to retain their title.

We take a look at the best Opta facts relating to the opening-round fixtures.

 

THURSDAY

Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos

- The Storm have won 15 of their last 17 NRL games against the Broncos, including the last five by an average margin of 18 points per game.

- Melbourne have also won their last 14 season-openers, last losing their first game of the campaign in 2004 against the Newcastle Knights.

 

FRIDAY

Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks

- The Sharks have won their last eight games against the Knights, conceding an average of 12 points per game.

- Knights full-back Kalyn Ponga was one of only two players in last season's NRL to average more than six tackle breaks per game, along with James Tedesco.

 

Sydney Roosters v South Sydney Rabbitohs

- Five of the last six NRL games between the Roosters and the Rabbitohs have been won by the away team.

- The Roosters' Cooper Cronk is set to make his 350th NRL appearance, becoming only the fourth player in premiership history to reach the landmark after Terry Lamb, Darren Lockyer and Cameron Smith.

 

SATURDAY

New Zealand Warriors v Canterbury Bulldogs

- The Warriors conceded just 11 tries on the sixth tackle in 2018, fewer than any other side in the NRL. 

- Only Wests Tigers (61) scored fewer tries than the Bulldogs (65) last year.

 

Wests Tigers v Manly Sea Eagles

- The Tigers made 20 kicks in general play per game last season, the highest average in the competition.

- Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans has been directly involved in five tries in his last three games against the Tigers (four tries and one assist).

 

North Queensland Cowboys v St George Illawarra Dragons

- Each of the last 11 meetings between the Cowboys and the Dragons has been won by the team leading at half-time.

- Only the Bulldogs (6.9) conceded fewer penalties per game in 2018 than the Dragons (7) and Cowboys (7.4).

 

SUNDAY

Penrith Panthers v Parramatta Eels

- The Panthers have won four of their last five NRL games against Parramatta, despite leading at half-time only once in those fixtures.

- Penrith's Josh Mansour has scored five tries in his last six games versus the Eels, but did not record a try when these teams met in round one last season.

 

Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders

- The Raiders scored 15 tries within the opening 10 minutes of games in 2018, more than any other team.

- Canberra have led at half-time on each of their last three visits to Cbus Super Stadium, winning two of those matches.

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