NRL Opta facts: Farah looks to mark milestone in style

By Sports Desk July 24, 2019

Robbie Farah is expected to join the NRL's 300-appearances club when Wests Tigers face Newcastle Knights this weekend.

The 35-year-old will become the 39th player to reach the milestone if he features for Wests at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday.

Newcastle start the 19th round in eighth place, but they will be hoping to get back on track after losing three in a row.

We take a look at the week's key statistics, courtesy of Opta.

Thursday

Cronulla Sharks (7-10) v North Queensland Cowboys (7-10)

- The Sharks have won six of their last eight NRL games against the Cowboys and are bidding for a third successive success after scoring 70 points in the past two victories.

- No other forward has made more line breaks than Cronulla's Briton Nikora, who has managed 11 this season.

Friday

Newcastle Knights (8-9) v Wests Tigers (7-10)

- Farah scored a try and provided an assist in his last game against the Knights.

- His team-mate Luke Brooks has been in fine form against the Knights having been directly involved in 10 tries (four tries and six assists) in his previous eight appearances.

South Sydney Rabbitohs (12-5) v St George Illawarra Dragons (6-11)

- After a run of just three wins in 17 against the Dragons, the Rabbitohs have now won 12 of their last 15 meetings.

- South Sydney's Cameron Murray has scored the opening try on four occasions in 2019, the joint-most of any player along with Sydney Roosters star Latrell Mitchell.


Saturday

Parramatta Eels (9-8) v New Zealand Warriors (7-1-9)

- The Warriors are bidding to avoid defeat for a fifth straight game away from home, a sequence they last managed in 2002.

- However, the Eels have won five of their six NRL matches at Bankwest Stadium by an average margin of 22 points per game.

Gold Coast Titans (4-13) v Brisbane Broncos (7-1-9)

- Bryce Cartwright is set to play his 100th NRL game for Gold Coast, who have won two of their last three games against the Broncos.

- Brisbane's Tevita Pangai Junior has made 48 offloads this season, five more than any other player.

Melbourne Storm (15-2) v Manly Sea Eagles (10-7)

- Melbourne claimed a thrilling one-point victory in the last clash between the two in 2018, the fourth time in the past five matches they have been victorious.

- The Storm's back three have made only 36 errors in 2019, five fewer than the back three of any other team in the NRL.


Sunday

Canterbury Bulldogs (5-12) v Sydney Roosters (11-6)

- While the Roosters have scored 11 opening tries this season, the Bulldogs (five) have the fewest in the NRL.

- Sydney are on a five-game winning sequence against the Bulldogs and have won nine of the last 11.

Penrith Panthers (9-8) v Canberra Raiders (11-6)

- Penrith will equal a club record set in 2003 if they can beat Canberra and record an eighth straight win.

- Brent Naden has scored six tries in as many games since making his NRL debut in round 12. Only Josh Dugan and Ken Maumalo (seven each) have touched down more often in that time.

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    Jack Nicklaus, the most prolific winner of major championships in golf, celebrates his 80th birthday on Tuesday.

    To mark the occasion, here are 18 facts about the Golden Bear, one for each of his major victories.

     

    - Despite his unmatched success at the highest level, Nicklaus only defended a major title on one occasion, at the 1966 Masters.

    - Before turning professional, Nicklaus won two U.S. Amateur titles in 1959 and 1961. The second of those wins saw him thrash Dudley Wysong 8 and 6.

    - He is one of only two players, together with Tiger Woods, to have completed the triple career grand slam by winning all four majors at least three times. Nicklaus achieved the feat in 1978, claiming his third Open title at St Andrews. Woods followed suit 30 years later with his third U.S. Open win.

    - Nicklaus' final appearances at each of the four majors coincided with victories for Woods - at the 2000 U.S. Open, 2000 US PGA Championship, 2005 Masters and 2005 Open.

    - There were five years - across three decades - in which Nicklaus claimed two major wins: 1963, 1966, 1972, 1975 and 1980.

    - Nicklaus' memorable Masters victory in 1986 was his sixth, the most of any player. He played the back nine in six under par as he become the oldest winner of the tournament at 46.

    - The most successful seasons of Nicklaus' career - in terms of PGA Tour wins - came in 1972 and 1973. He won seven tournaments in both of those years.

    - The Golden Bear held sole possession of the 54-hole lead at a major on eight occasions and went on to seal victory every time.

    - His record margin of victory at a major was achieved at the 1965 Masters, a tournament he won by nine strokes. Gary Player and Arnold Palmer were joint second, with the trio having shared the lead after 36 holes. Nicklaus' nine-shot victory was a record triumph at Augusta until Woods won by 12 in 1997.

    - Nicklaus holds the record for the most top-10 finishes at every major, recording 22 top-10s at the Masters, 18 at the U.S. Open, 18 at The Open and 15 at the US PGA. His overall tally of 73 major top-10s puts him well clear of nearest rivals Sam Snead (48) and Tom Watson (46). Woods has 41 to date.

    - The last PGA Tour cheque of Nicklaus' illustrious career earned him $11,130, when he finished in a tie for 63rd at the 2004 edition of the Memorial Tournament, aged 64.

    - A teenage Nicklaus finished 12th on his PGA Tour debut, at the 1958 Rubber City Open. He was only one off the lead after 36 holes.

    - In an stunning run from the 1973 Masters to the 1976 Masters, Nicklaus recorded top-10 finishes at 13 successive majors. Hogan holds the record with 18.

    - Nicklaus was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 - the highest civilian honour available in the United States. He became only the seventh athlete to receive the honour and the third golfer after Byron Nelson and Palmer.

    - When Nicklaus won The Open for the fourth and final time in 1980, it represented his 15th consecutive top-six finish at the event. That remarkable streak featured three of his four wins and six of his seven runner-up finishes.

    - Nicklaus won the 1956 Ohio Open as a 16-year-old amateur, beating a host of professional players. He credited the win to Snead, having played an exhibition with the golfing great after round one of the tournament.

    - In 17 consecutive seasons from 1962 to 1978, Nicklaus won at least two events on the PGA Tour. He also finished in the top four in the money list in each of these seasons.

    - Last but not least, Nicklaus' haul of 18 majors remains the benchmark. Woods claimed his 15th, after an 11-year barren spell, at last year's Masters, but still has lots of work to do to catch Jack.

  • Premier League Data Diary: Reds remain unstoppable after rivals falter Premier League Data Diary: Reds remain unstoppable after rivals falter

    Dreams of Premier League glory began to feel like an inevitability at Anfield as Liverpool beat Manchester United on a weekend that saw Leicester City, Chelsea and Manchester City drop points.

    Jurgen Klopp's side dispatched their old rivals with goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, leaving Reds supporters full of confidence after Burnley came from behind to beat third-placed Leicester 2-1 at Turf Moor.

    There was a surprise result at St. James' Park on Saturday, Frank Lampard's Chelsea dominating for long periods against Newcastle United but succumbing to a late Isaac Hayden goal in a 1-0 defeat.

    There were late goals at the Etihad Stadium, where Sergio Aguero thought he had won it with a brace, only for Fernandinho to put through his own net in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

    The weekend's Opta data offers detailed insights into the stories behind those results, as well as Wolves' dramatic 3-2 comeback victory over Southampton at St. Mary's.

     

    ANFIELD FULL OF HOPE AFTER BACK-TO-BACK HOME WINS OVER UNITED

    They are no longer saying it quietly: Liverpool fans firmly believe the title is theirs after watching their side beat United on Sunday.

    The victory marked the first time Liverpool have claimed consecutive home Premier League wins over the Red Devils since winning three in a row between September 2008 and March 2011 and there was an air of invulnerability around Anfield at the final whistle.

    Liverpool have taken 91 points from a possible 93 in their last 31 Premier League matches, winning 30 and drawing just one, while United have now lost nine of their last 16 top-flight away games (W3 D4 L9).

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have failed to score in eight of those games and they gave Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson little to do despite creating a number of goalscoring opportunities.

    Alisson kept himself busy by becoming the first Reds keeper to assist a Premier League goal since March 2010, when Pepe Reina laid on a goal against Sunderland.

     

     


    LATE HAYDEN WINNER LEAVES LAMPARD'S BLUES REELING

    Chelsea have lost as many Premier League games this season as they did in the entirety of 2018-19 after Hayden scored in the 94th minute to snatch victory for Newcastle over Lampard's inconsistent Blues.

    Four of Chelsea's eight league defeats this season have come in their last eight matches and supporters making the trip to Tyneside had reason to be fearful of their side coming unstuck.

    Chelsea have now lost five of their last seven top-flight trips to St. James' Park but defeats to teams managed by Steve Bruce have been a rare occurrence - this was only the second time he has beaten the Blues in 23 games against them as a manager (D5 L16).

    Prior to Hayden's strike, Newcastle had not scored a last-minute winner since Ayoze Perez struck against Tottenham in December 2015.

    It was Hayden's third Premier League goal and came in his 70th appearance in the competition, his last coming in February 2019 against Wolves.

     

    POROUS CITY PAY FOR ERRORS AT THE BACK

    City came from behind to lead with three minutes left in their clash with Palace but conceded at home in the Premier League for the 12th time this season as the Eagles secured a point at the death.

    Pep Guardiola's men have now conceded as many goals at home in the league as they did in the whole of last season and this was their third draw of the 2019-20 season - in their title-winning campaign last term they only drew twice.

    Aguero's double inside five minutes marked the Argentina international's 250th and 251st goals in all competitions for the club in his 360th appearance, but Fernandinho became the first City player to score a Premier League own-goal since Nicolas Otamendi against Huddersfield Town in November 2017.

    The scoring was opened by new signing Cenk Tosun, who netted in the 39th minute to become the fourth Turkish player to reach 10 Premier League goals after Muzzy Izzet, Tuncay Sanli and Tugay.

    Palace are ninth in the table after four consecutive draws - the last time they drew as many Premier League games in a row was in 1992-93 when they started the season with the same sequence.

     

    WOLVES EMERGING AS COMEBACK SPECIALISTS

    When Raul Jimenez scored from the penalty spot at St. Mary's he pulled Wolves level after they had been two goals down, but there was even better to follow for Nuno Espirito Santo's men.

    Jimenez scored again in the 76th minute, taking his tally to 19 goals in all competitions this season and clinching three points for Wolves that means they have now picked up 18 from losing positions in the Premier League this season - seven more than any other side.

    Falling behind after 15 minutes to a Jan Bednarek goal was nothing new for the visitors, who have conceded first in 16 league games this season including each of their last seven in a row.

    But Jimenez has been directly involved in 28 goals this season and after Shane Long netted his 54th Premier League goal to make it 2-0 to the Saints, Pedro Neto scored for the second time in his last three league appearances to tee up the Mexico international for a memorable brace.

    Jimenez now has 19 goals and nine assists to his name in all competitions this season, giving him more direct goal involvements than any other top-flight player in 2019-20.

  • Liverpool slap down Man Utd as Klopp's power of belief puts title in their hands Liverpool slap down Man Utd as Klopp's power of belief puts title in their hands

    Now you're gonna believe them.

    After Mohamed Salah, at last, scored against Manchester United, as their 2-0 victory was at last assured, Liverpool fans made it clear to the world that they think this, at last, is their year.

    "We're going to win the league," they sang, for the first time this season. They're right. Jurgen Klopp won't say the same, not yet, but he must know. Everyone knows.

    Sixteen points clear, sixteen games to go. Ninety-one points won from the last 93 available. No league defeats in 12 months. Listening to Anfield on Sunday, the party has already started.

    United are the only team to stop Liverpool winning in the Premier League this season, but now they, like 17 others, have tasted defeat to Klopp's relentless Reds (West Ham got a reprieve thanks to the Club World Cup). Discussions about the best ever teams in Merseyside, indeed the country, are for another time. In 2019-20, nobody comes close.

    That said, on the evidence of this game and the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October, the gap between these teams in simple quality – in terms of the overall picture of the side – is not quite as yawning as some would think.

    Under some dazzling pink skies as the sun set over the stadium, Liverpool were no more sparkling than United were appalling. This wasn't the Liverpool that tore Leicester City to shreds on home turf, nor the United that plumbed new depths of away-day embarrassment at Watford.

    Neither was this the mismatch of the EFL Cup semi-final first leg this month at Old Trafford, when it seemed the only reason Manchester City did not try to match their 9-0 destruction of Burton Albion a year ago was because the players wanted a second-half breather.

    Yet there is something more redoubtable about this Liverpool than their quality of play. Their greatest weapon, as it is for great sides through history, is a conviction bordering on zealotry that, come what may, they will win the football match.

    There was nothing spectacular about the opening goal, nothing to reflect Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's glowing praise of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Salah's bamboozling interplay. It was a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner and a Virgil van Dijk header; a simple cross, a routine forehead finish, straight out of the annals of English football.

    But reflected in Van Dijk's fourth league goal of the season was that triumphant certainty that has become the lifeblood of Klopp's team. Alexander-Arnold had a poor game by his standards, but you knew a good cross was coming. Van Dijk was marshalled, but you knew he'd win the header once the United blockers had faltered.

    With Liverpool, you just know.

    That's where United fall down in comparison. A club that came to define what it means to have a will to win under Alex Ferguson, who watched on from the stands here, has barely an ounce of that same quality these days compared to their great rivals. Solskjaer was right to argue that this Liverpool will only define an era like Ferguson did if they win consecutive titles, but there is no doubt which team best reflects the great Scot.

    United had their chances. Good ones. But as Andreas Pereira failed to turn Aaron Wan-Bissaka's cross into an open net, as Anthony Martial volleyed over the bar with the goal at his mercy, did anyone really believe they were going to take them? Did they?

    United were boosted before kick-off in that Chelsea's loss to Newcastle United meant the gap to the top four was never going to increase. They remain five points behind Frank Lampard's side – at this stage of the season, especially given Chelsea's inconsistency, they will not panic about their Champions League hopes at least.

    Their performance in the final 30 minutes was also at least some cause for encouragement. The trouble is, when it comes to United, the next setback never feels far away. Even before kick-off, we learned Marcus Rashford could be out for weeks, maybe months, his back broken from carrying the Red Devils attack.

    Meanwhile, Liverpool are disappearing over the horizon, 21 wins from 22 games in their pocket, already thinking of the visit to Wolves next week. Molineux is a dangerous ground for any side these days, a place where City have already lost this season, where United have failed to win in four attempts since last March.

    Does anyone think the same thing will happen to Liverpool? They don't.

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