Manly have been the surprise packets in 2019 and Des Hasler's influence on their defence and small effort areas is helping them on their way.
The Sea Eagles conceded a competition-high 622 points in 2018, their worst season defensively for 13 years.
While there was a clear breakdown across the defensive line last season, Hasler's men have turned things around to have conceded 71 fewer points compared to this stage of 2018.
They're currently the fifth best defensive team in the Telstra Premiership and a standout area the side is excelling in is limiting line break causes.
According to NRL.com Stats, the Sea Eagles are only second behind Melbourne (35) on 46 causes in total.
To determine a line break causes, several reasons are determined with more than one player identified for causing the break.
- Missed tackle – Defensive player(s) have missed or fallen off a tackle that led to a break
- Offload – Ball carrier could offload in the tackle, causing the ineffective tackle to lead to a break
- Poor Read – Defensive player misread the play or was caught in two minds
- Lazy – Defensive player(s) could have done more to prevent a break. Not enough effort
Each line break conceded can have multiple break causes, which is why the total (1012) across all clubs is much higher than the 451 line breaks made in 2019.
South Sydney have the most break causes (44) around missed tackles after eight rounds of the season, with the Sea Eagles sixth best on 25.
The Sea Eagles are the best in the "poor read" area with only 11 causes, while the Titans (37) and Broncos (33) are in the bottom three.
Brisbane's woes stretch to break causes due to offloads on 17, while Penrith, Newcastle and Melbourne (all two) are all the competition's best. The Sea Eagles are ranked 10th in this area on eight causes.
The Knights (13) and Cowboys (10) have the most break causes for lazy effort plays, which wouldn't impress either side's coaches as both clubs look to push towards the finals in 2019.
Manly have had no such issue, along with five other teams - St George Illawarra, Melbourne, Canterbury, Wests Tigers and Gold Coast - with only two causes in the lazy area.