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Stat Attack: Hard yards no dilemma for Klemmer

After three consecutive years as cellar dwellers in the yardage department, Newcastle might've finally turned the corner in key areas in coach Nathan Brown's fourth season at the club.

The Knights have been stuck at the bottom of the metres gained rankings for the past three seasons and finished 11th on the Telstra Premiership ladder after three wooden spoons.

But after eight rounds of the 2019 season, Brown's side have climbed to 11th in run metres with 1537.4 average - their best numbers since making the preliminary final in 2013 - with an improvement of 172.9 metres per game on last season.

The arrival of David Klemmer, who is ranked second in individual run metres (1,430) and leads the competition in post-contact metres (517), is the main reason for the big jump in the Knights' yardage numbers.

Some would say it's no surprise given Klemmer's status as one of the most elite props in the game.

But even Klemmer, a renowned metre-eater, hasn't been been able to lift the Knights' post-contact metres any higher than 15th spot in the rankings, highlighting there is still plenty of work to do if they are going to establish themselves as a dominant forward pack.

Another positive for the Knights compared to previous years is the increase in their average possession rate, which has risen by three percent to 49.5%.

It's a good indication the Novocastrians are taking better care of the ball.

There was talk Klemmer's former club Canterbury would struggle for yardage in the Australian international's absence, but that hasn't been the case, with the Bulldogs ranking sixth (1580.3 metres per game) among all teams.

Dogs forwards Aiden Tolman (137.8 metres), Dylan Napa (100.4 metres) and Danny Fualalo (96.3 metres) have well and truly filled the void left by Klemmer's departure.

It sets up an intriguing battle between the two forward packs on Saturday afternoon with Klemmer no doubt eager to ensure he tastes victory against his former club.

During their three victories in 2019, the Knights have rolled through their opposition to average 1673.3 metres per game.

But in their five-game losing streak the numbers present a different story. They managed just 1454.4 during their slump, a figure that was boosted by an additional seven minutes during their 13-12 golden point loss to the Dragons in round four.