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Dragons players celebrate NRLW success.

St George Illawarra were pre-season favourites heading into year two of the NRL Holden Women's Premiership and looked on track to go from wooden spooners to champions. 

Their ability to bounce back from a round one defeat to the Broncos by winning their final two games in convincing fashion should be commended.

However, their grand final performance against the Broncos was anything but satisfying in front of more than 35,000 fans at ANZ Stadium.

It was a statistical success for the Dragons on most fronts during the regular season but when it comes down to the big dance facts and figures can count for nothing. 

Dragons 2019: By the numbers

Snapshot 

The Dragons were the biggest recruitment movers in 2019 with just 30% of their squad retained from the inaugural season.

The signings of ex-Broncos premiership-winners Brittany Breayley, Teuila Fotu-Moala, Kimiora Nati, Maitua Feterika and Ngatokotoru Arakua stole the pre-season headlines.

Fotu-Moala's stint on the paddock was short-lived with the Kiwi Ferns international suspended for three weeks after week one, while Nati was absent late in the piece due to illness.

The squad's average player age of 24.3 was the youngest in the NRLW for the second year. They handed debuts to seven women.  

Among the youth included Indigenous All Stars representative Shaylee Bent and rising forward Maddison Weatherall.

Former rugby sevens star Tiana Penitani was also a handy acquisition.

Attack

The Dragons led the way with 54 points in the regular season, averaging 3.3 tries per game.

Reigning Dally M medallist Jess Sergis topped the NRLW top try-scorers list with three tries.

Dragons outside backs Tiana Penitani and Shakiah Tungai both crossed the line twice.

Former Rooster Botille Vette-Welsh (38) also proved one of the buys of the year, finishing second behind Maitua Feterika for most runs with the Dragons prop leading the competition on 49.

The pair generated a combined 953 metres in three games for the Dragons with Sergis also averaging 157 metres per outing.

The Red V's average of 35.3 tackle breaks per match was the best in the competition with Sergis (20), Botille Vette-Welsh and Kezie Apps (both 15) all in the competition's top five.

St George Illawarra's goal-kicking ranked third with 58.3% with Maddie Studdon and Shakiah Tungai sharing the duties.

Studdon converted at 88% across the three games but wasn't used for the sideline conversions.

Discipline

St George Illawarra were the most disciplined team in the regular season with just seven penalties conceded across their three regular-season games.

In return, they were awarded 20 penalties at an average of 6.7 – the most of any side.

The side's missed tackle count was also down on last year and on par with the competition's overall improvement.

Their 23.3 missed tackle average was lower than any other side, while they conceded at least three line breaks per game.  

Maitua Feterika had a competition-high 13 missed tackles with Brittany Breayley and Holli Wheeler (both nine) both finished in the top 10.

Breayley finished behind Roosters hooker Nita Maynard with 110 effective tackles. 

Jess Sergis (6), Shaylee Bent (5) and Kezie Apps (4) finished in the top 10 for one-on-one efforts.

Post contact impact

The Dragons ranked third for post contact metres per game with 259 but still managed to have three players in the NRLW's top five on an individual basis.

Maitua Feterika topped the competition post contact metres with an aggregate of 151 for the season.

Roosters centre Isabelle Kelly (141) and Jess Sergis (123) were next best while Botille Vette-Welsh rounded out the top five with 112 metres at an average of 37.3m per game.

The Warriors averaged the highest total with 294 post contact metres per outing with the winless Roosters next best on 290.

Shifting the ball

St George Illawarra dominated this area to be ranked first for shifts with an average of 17.7 per game for the season.

They were left-side dominant with 64% of their ball movement favouring the edge of Kezie Apps, Tiana Penitani and Rikeya Horne.

The shifts to the left generated five line breaks and two tries.

This could be put down to the playmaking options from primary playmaker Maddie Studdon, who played alongside Keeley Davis for three of the side's remaining four games. 

Studdon passed the ball 79% of the time from her competition-high 126 receipts.

Breaking down the balance, Studdon kicked the ball 16% of the time generating 556 kick metres while the remaining five percent she took on the line with Davis running the ball from 34% of her touches. 

Comparing Studdon to Broncos halfback Ali Brigginshaw - who touched the ball the second-highest amount of times with 115 receipts for the season - the breakdown read 65% passing, 14% running and 21% kicking.

The Broncos (61%) also favoured their left edge but it was more evenly spread between the Roosters (56%) and Warriors (43%) who went more to their right channels.

A competition total of 29% of shifts came from quick play the balls.

The Dragons didn't seem to mind with speed around the ruck, spreading the ball from a slow play the ball on seven occasions.