The fascinating data trends behind Matt Moylan’s upturn in form at Leigh Leopards

Aaron Bower
Matt Moylan

Matt Moylan’s Super League career has, after a shaky start, hit the ground running in recent weeks.

Perhaps it was unfair to expect a player who has never played in England before to hit the ground running, in fairness. The competition is quicker, the grounds are heavier in the earlier months – all of which combines to make a pretty vicious cocktail for a half-back looking to make an instant impact in Super League.

But Leigh Leopards are now beginning to see the Matt Moylan who was such a mainstay in the NRL for practically a decade. His upturn has coincided with a flirtation with fullback in the absence of Gareth O’Brien but even when he is playing half-back alongside Lachlan Lam, Moylan is now dominating games.

But interestingly, Moylan is doing more with less of the ball. Love Rugby League has delved into the data behind Moylan’s performances at the start of the season and now – with his own upturn in form coinciding with Leigh putting together a string of positive results.

The most notable trend in Moylan’s performances? His increased ability to puncture the line of late. Moylan has provided seven line break assists (LBAs) in his last five games, with just six in his first eight games. Moylan also has three direct line breaks himself in the last four games – before that, he had broken the line just twice in his first nine matches.

Moylan is now much more of a running threat than he was on heavier, early-season tracks. He averages 117 metres-per-game over the course of the Super League season but in his last five games, that figure is at 150m pG.

Matt Moylan Leigh Leopards
Matt Moylan in action for Leigh Leopards in 2024

25 tackle breaks in those last five games compared to just 11 in his first eight games also instantly underline what a threat Moylan has become, too – with his pass-per-run ratio (PPR) half of what it was in the first seven games of the season. In short, Moylan is opting to run with the ball much more – and it is bringing with it significant reward for him and his team.

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And incredibly all of that is coming with Moylan seeing less of the ball: with the Australian touching the ball less in his last three games compared to his first ten.

“Matt’s been doing a good job at fullback and it’s a dilemma with Gaz O’Brien back in two weeks,” Leigh coach Adrian Lam told Love Rugby League earlier this week.

“Matt’s season has taken off since he’s been at fullback. I always said it would take around 10 games for him to settle – that’s the time it takes an import player. We were struggling for numbers early doors but it’s a really good sign that he’s now hitting the ground running.”

Moylan and Leigh will hope the upturn in the form of both player and club continues on Friday night at Hull KR. After a somewhat understandable slow start, the former Kangaroos man is now looking one of the competition’s most threatening and important players.

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