Almanac League: Five Metre Gap – NRL Finals Week 2 2017

@hamishneal

 

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the second week of the NRL finals plus some of the second-tier preliminary final action across New South Wales and Queensland. The Broncos secured a spot in the penultimate weekend of NRL beating Penrith whilst North Queensland travelled to Sydney again, this time beating the Eels.

 

Despite missing four of their top-liners Brisbane prevailed 13-6 on Friday evening to book a preliminary final meeting with the Melbourne Storm. Losing players during the game to injury, primarily concussion exclusions, the home side didn’t put the game away until ten minutes to go having dominated the early periods before possession swung back in favour of the travelling Panthers, largely courtesy of a wasteful Brisbane side who made 13 errors. One of Brisbane’s best-performers was edge forward Alex Glenn who made a team-high 156 metres from 14 runs and was a handful for the Panthers defenders breaking five tackles throughout the game. In addition to Glenn’s effort, playing 51 minutes off the bench Joe Ofahengue’s effort was notable making 111 metres from 13 runs to go with three tackle breaks.

 

This season has seen a two-point win to Melbourne in the Victorian capital in round three when they met Brisbane but significantly the Storm won 42-12 in round 17 in a game which somewhat mirrors Friday night’s coming clash in Melbourne. Heading into that game in Brisbane the Storm’s stars Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater hadn’t played the previous week when the Storm were beaten by the Roosters in Adelaide. So, Melbourne’s best have had a ‘bye’ and last time that happened they scored eight tries away from home. For a spot in the grand final the Storm stay home on this occasion.

 

North Queensland upset the Parramatta Eels on Saturday evening 26-14. The score-line flattered an Eels side that scored one of their three tries as time expired after leading 10-6 at the break before seeing the Cowboys come out and dominate the second stanza. Having the best halves player (Michael Morgan) and best forward (Jason Taumololo) in the match plus recent finals experience proved pivotal for Paul Green’s side. Morgan’s dominant kicking game and play-making display plus Taumololo’s running game (234 metres from 21 runs) to go with his 35 tackles and three tackle breaks. The Cowboys’ victory sets up at meeting with Roosters in the second preliminary final.

 

The Roosters have met the Cowboys once this season and it was at Saturday evening’s venue, Allianz Stadium, with a 22-16 triumph to the home side in round 21. However the Cowboys were 16-6 up at the interval so the Cowboys, playing with nothing to lose, will head into the game knowing they can score points on the Roosters having put on three tries in a 14-minute period in that game.

 

Away from the NRL, the NSW and Queensland state team competitions have decided their grand finalists and there is an international flavor with the PNG Hunters (who have been in the competition since 2014) having qualified in the Queensland decider. Next Sunday the Hunters will play the Sunshine Coast Falcons, a feeder side of the Melbourne Storm since 2015, at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium. Getting the week off after beating the Redcliffe Dolphins last week Michael Marum’s side will face the Falcons who beat the Dolphins 40-14 on Sunday. The NSWRL decider will see the Wyong Roos (aligned to the Sydney Roosters) meet the Panthers after both sides won through on Sunday beating the New Zealand Warriors and Canterbury Bulldogs, respectively. Leichhardt Oval will host the NSW decider with the winner of that contest to play the winner of the Hunters/Falcons fixture in the Interstate Challenge on NRL Grand Final day – Sunday October 1 – at ANZ Stadium.

 

NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series – Week 3
Preliminary Final: Friday, September 22, 7.55pm, AAMI Park
NRL: Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos
Preliminary Final: Saturday, September 23, 7.40pm, Allianz Stadium
NRL: Sydney Roosters v North Queensland Cowboys
Holden Cup: Parramatta Eels v Penrith Panthers; 5.00pm
Holden Cup: St George Illawarra Dragons v Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles; 2.30pm

 

This column first appeared onFrom the sideline of sport

 

About Hamish Neal

Born in Lower Hutt New Zealand Hamish is forever wedded to all things All Black, All Whites, Tall Blacks and more. Writing more nowadays in his 'spare time' (what is that anyway?) but still with a passion for broadcasting. Has worked in various sports development roles in England, Northern Ireland and Australia.

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