Johns v Thurston

This Sunday afternoon the two best teams of 2006 will face off at Energy Australia Stadium bringing the two form halves in the competition face to face for the first time this year. Andrew Johns and Johnathan Thurston go up against each other in a game that should be an absolute cracker.

NSC runs the rule over the two playmakers and breaks down their impact on their team?s try scoring potency in 2006.

Andrew Johns Games: 4 Wins: 4 Team Tries*: 33 Individual Tries: 3 Primary Assists: 10 (4 by Cut Out Pass, 2 by Short Pass, 2 by Inside Balls, 1 by D/Half Cut Out Pass, 1 by Cross Kick) Secondary Assists: 7 (4 by Cut Out Pass, 1 by Short Pass, 1 by Offload 1 by Bomb Kick) Total Try Involvement: 20 of 33 Tries scored for 60.6%

Johnathan Thurston Games: 5 Wins: 5 Team Tries: 24 Individual Tries: 5 Primary Assists: 7 (2 by Cut Out Pass, 2 by Line Break & Pass, 1 by Short Pass, 1 by Cross Kick, 1 by Offload, 1 by Grubber Kick) Secondary Assists: 2 (1 by Short Pass, 1 by Offload) Total Try Involvement: 14 of 24 Tries scored for 58.3%

The above are giddy numbers to say the least. And each player has a significantly high TTI% (Total Try Involvement Percentage) showing their worth to the attacking nature of their team.

* Johns did not play against the Warriors thus the 4 tries the Knights scored that day do not factor into his TTI%. The Team Tries reflect ONLY those tries scored while the playmaker in question is on the field. Johns left the field after 66 minutes against the Bulldogs but the Knights did not score any more tries in that game, had they scored any his TTI% would not have factored in these extra tries.

It is interesting to note the key strengths that come out of these statistics.

Johns is a master passer and that is evident by his 9 Primary and 6 Secondary Assists coming from the pass. He particularly loves the Cut Out Pass with 9 Assists thus far through that pass. While Thurston?s key strength is his 2 Primary Assists from direct Line Breaks. They both have 2 Kick Assists for the season.

Johns plays both sides of the field superbly and is excellent at bouncing back up after being tackled during his involvement in one play and being present at first receiver on the other side of the ruck the next play. He is all about involvement when he sees an opportunity to apply pressure to an opponent. He doesn?t handle unnecessarily and simply waits to get his hands on the pill after his forwards lay the ground work. Johns also loves the inside ball, and working a runner back towards the goalposts on the left edge is a pet play. Also drifting wide on the right, one off the ruck he always hits the second man with a superbly timed cut out pass.

Thurston has also shown his ability to play both sides of the field but has a preference for the right hand side. He loves to sweep in behind the play the ball and hit a dummy half pass on the run heading towards the right edge. Thurston is more of an individualistic player than Johns and loves to run the ball after a quick dummy to his outside men. Thurston also lurks around the ruck more than Johns, waiting for an opportunity to present itself such as supporting a line break.

Come Sunday afternoon the ground will be packed and hopefully both teams (particularly Johns and Thurston) will be as per the program.

Johns and the Newcastle pack have been a great partnership so far this season and while you cannot count out the undefeated Cowboys, home ground advantage and (did I mention Andrew Johns?) give the Knights the edge here and they should win.

==== The NSC Almanac is still available for subscription and League Player Ratings has a healthy number of subscribers already with a few more this week ? so get on board.

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For just one $22 payment you receive the PDF printable NSC Almanac and weekly League Player Ratings ? the most comprehensive individual player ratings available on the internet ? delivered straight to your Inbox. You can order your subscription here: If you subscribe late don?t worry you won?t miss out as all preceding rounds will be sent to you with your first copy of LPR. 2006 LEAGUE PLAYER RATINGS ROUND 5 LEADERBOARD 41 ? Johnathan Thurston, NQL 39 ? Danny Buderus, NEW 38 ? Steven Price, WAR 37 ? 6 Players tied Please note: None of the above stats in this article are lifted from NRL Stats the Official NRL Provider, as quite frankly their Try Assist system is less than reliable at the best of times. All stats are property of NSC and cannot be reused without consent.

FYI: Primary Assists is the key play that results in a try being scored ? ie making a Line Break then passing, sending a player into a gap with a pass who then scores, kicking to a player to score a try or kicking for another player to run and pass to another player who scores. Secondary Assists ? Can involve any of the above scenarios that contribute to a try but are not the key factor. For example a player who sends another player into a gap with a pass gets a Secondary Assist if that player who made the break then passes to different player who scores the try. Contributing passes such as quality Dummy Half and First or Second Receiver passes that get their teammates into a favourable position to make a break or set up another teammate to make a break also result in a Secondary Assist.

Please note: A player does NOT gain a Primary or Secondary Assist for simply throwing the last pass or touching the ball from the play the ball to the eventual try. Each try is dissected and the relevant and appropriate Assists are then given.