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Stat Attack: Numbers show how centre-wing duos stack up

Parramatta boast one of the competition's most potent attacking centre-wing combinations but the statistics expose some defensive issues on their other edge.

NRL.com Stats has crunched the numbers and found reason for Eels supporters to be delighted and concerned.

The left-side combination of Michael Jennings and Maika Sivo is a constant source of points for the third-placed side.

They have scored 18 tries in the 12 games they've played alongside each other in 2020 – the best return of any pairing in the NRL with a minimum of five matches together heading into round 13.

Jennings and Sivo are sound defensively, too, ranking as the equal-eighth best combination with nine try causes collectively.

But Parramatta's right-edge partnership of Waqa Blake and Blake Ferguson ranks as the second-worst defensive centre-wing pairing, having been responsible for 21 try causes in 11 games.

More than one player can be attributed with a "try cause" on the same play, be it with a missed tackle or poor read, so that figure doesn't mean Blake and Ferguson are responsible for 21 separate tries. 

Blake, who moved from Penrith midway through last year, has missed the 11th-most tackles (35) overall and the second-most of any centre – only behind Warrior Peta Hiku (36), whose team is struggling.

They have only scored three tries – all of them to Blake with Ferguson experiencing a rare drought for the NSW winger.

North Queensland's Esan Marsters and Kyle Feldt are statistically the poorest combination defensively, with 34 try causes between them in 10 games.

While they've contributed 10 tries on the right, all but one belong to winger Feldt. Marsters, a six-time Kiwi international, was dropped when Josh Hannay took over as coach in round 11.

Marsters has a tackle efficiency rate of 75.8 percent with 23 missed tackles. Sivo terrorised Marsters and Feldt in round eight when he bagged four tries at Bankwest Stadium.

Hiku and Ken Maumalo, who has now returned to New Zealand for family reasons, have the third-most try causes with 18 in six games.

Their rate of three try causes per game was a smidge under that of Marsters and Feldt (3.4).

Wests Tigers duo Joseph Leilua and David Nofoaluma have shown themselves to be an attacking force and defensive target on the right.

"Leiluma", reunited this weekend as Leilua returns from a ban, have 11 tries (equal-third) and 16 try causes (fourth) in 11 games.

The team's unheralded left-side combo of Moses Mbye and Tommy Talau has shown promise. In five games together, the pair has recorded just three try causes while scoring six tries.

Cronulla's right edge of Jesse Ramien and Sione Katoa has proven an unexpected success. Katoa started the year on the left flank but moved sides in round four when Ronaldo Mulitalo was injured.

Ramien and Katoa have contributed 13 tries in seven games (second). Katoa is ranked fourth for overall tackle busts (63) while former Knight Ramien (33) is 32nd.

The Sharks stars have been solid in defence, with 10 try causes.

Penrith's Stephen Crichton and Josh Mansour have scored the equal-third most tries (11) – no surprise with the Panthers in first place.

Defence has been a focus for Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien and it appears his work was paying off on the fringes.

Enari Tuala and Hymel Hunt, who have played five matches on the right, have allowed only six try causes.

Bradman Best and Edrick Lee – both of whom are now injured – played five games as a left-side pairing and had seven try causes.

Roosters veterans Josh Morris and Daniel Tupou, who are also sidelined through injury, are the best defensive unit with only two try causes, albeit in only five matches.

Brisbane champion Darius Boyd looked assured as he returned to fullback last round. He produced four try assists in the No.1 jumper – a welcome haul after he and Corey Oates failed to register a try in their six appearances as a centre-wing partnership.