The right boot of Mitchell Moses propelled the Eels into the finals as they emerged as the most effective attacking-range kicking team in 2019.
An analysis by NRL.com Stats of outcomes from attacking kicks has revealed the Eels were streets ahead of their nearest rival, and far more effective with close range kicks than even the likes of Melbourne and the Roosters.
The Eels were middling in a few defensive stats in particular but papered over the cracks by lapping all comers in an algorithm designed by NRL.com Stats to assess outcomes from attacking kicks.
The formula looks at a team's ability to get a positive result from any kick in attacking territory with each kick given a positive or negative weighting based on the outcome, which is explained in full detail below.
Parramatta's final attacking kick plus/minus score for the season was +210 from 280 total kicks, well ahead of Penrith (+184) Cronulla and Wests Tigers (both +172).
The season's four best teams – Roosters (+151), Raiders (+119), Rabbitohs (+106) and Storm (+103) – were all in the top eight for this metric, indicating they were effective with attacking kicks but less reliant on it for point-scoring.
Manly made the finals despite finishing 11th best for attacking kick effectiveness while Brisbane finished eighth despite being the worst in the NRL in this area and the only team to finish with a negative score, coming in at -2 for the season from their 280 attacking kicks.
Interestingly, the three Queensland clubs figured in the bottom three for this metric with the Titans (+12) and Cowboys (+15) also struggling to get results from attacking kicks, just trailing Canterbury (+18).
The best net total for an individual player in this metric was Eels halfback Mitch Moses, with a whopping +148 from a huge 186 attacking kicks. Moses remarkably did not send one kick dead in goal all season, with 14 dropouts forced. His NRL-high 24 try assists included 18 from kicks.
In second place was now ex-Panther James Maloney, who forced a whopping league-high 31 repeat sets contributing to his net total of +105 from 133 attacking kicks.
On an average per-kick basis the best return was Storm playmaker Jahrome Hughes, with +2.38 from 21 kicks with eight drop-outs forced, five kicks regained and four try assists from kicks.
Next best was Moses' young halves partner Dylan Brown, a significant contributor to Parramatta's dominance in this area, with +1.83 per kick from 23 kicks including three try assists and seven forced dropouts.
Moses' average per kick was a healthy +0.80 from a much larger sample size while Clint Gutherson (+0.82 from 22 kicks) also chipped in.
While Broncos playmaker Anthony Milford figured prominently for dropouts forced (18), a league-high 13 kicks dead brought the kick differential back significantly and contributed to Brisbane's woes.
There were seven more kicks dead from six other Broncos, while maligned skipper Darius Boyd showed how it's done with five drop-outs forced and no kicks dead.
Their 21 kicks dead was a league equal-high with the Dragons and Storm, though the Storm got enough good results otherwise to stay in the top half of the competition for attacking kick effectiveness.
Every attacking kick through the regular season is given a score weighting, with the ultimate outcome of a try assist judged +10 and the next best result – a fresh set of six via a dropout or opposition error – given +3.
Possession otherwise retained is +2 and a teammate error from the kick is +1, which ruled as a positive kick because the team had a chance to score or regain the ball.
The worst result – an opposition restart at the 20m line – is weighted -5. All other outcomes leading to the opposition gaining the ball from a tap, tackle or scrum are weighted as -2.
This includes the ball going into touch, going into touch on the full and being cleaned up by the opposition.
In the rare instance, a kick is charged down then retained by the attacking team it is given a zero weighting because though the result is positive the kick failed in its intent.