Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 11, 2016


Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the eleventh round of the NRL, the last full round before the Origin series gives us some split rounds. The Titans grabbed a thrilling win in Penrith and the Broncos went back to playing on Friday night, but lost to the Cowboys.

Surprise New South Wales selection Dylan Walker featured as Manly slumped to their seventh loss of the season beaten 20-18 by the table-topping Sharks on Saturday night. Across the first two and half months of the competition Walker has three tries and three tackle breaks plus one try assist. Hardly compelling numbers for inclusion in a Blues side that needs to find a way to score points given they are playing a squad that scored 13 tries in three games last year. For a player spending a fair amount of time in the halves the try assists figure, whilst it should not be looked at in isolation, is concerning. Sharks utility Jack Bird with two tries, three try assists and four line breaks seems a better option. Even Brisbane’s James Roberts with also three tries but eight line breaks and four try assists seems a more dynamic attacking option even allowing for the fact Roberts is not a like-for-like player compared to Walker. Given it’s essentially a utility position Walker is playing the comparison seems fair and I’m would think Roberts could adapt closer in to the ruck if needed. Defensively Cronulla’s Bird, with 21 missed tackles from 184 attempts, to Walker’s 29 (from 169 attempts) is again better and our third option Roberts is better than the first two with only 11 missed tackles from 166 attempts. Over to you Dylan, and Laurie.

Eight second half errors cruelled the Broncos on Friday night to see North Queensland edge home 19-18 as Brisbane became the first side this season to blow a lead of 12 points or more twice, Fox Sports’ Aaron Wallace (@wallyscr) pointed out this on Twitter in the wake of the defeat and coach Wayne Bennett should be concerned by this as this match, whilst it was with some players having Origin on their mind, wasn’t in the real heart of the Origin period. Having coughed up a 22-6 lead in round three before Penrith claimed a 23-22 victory Brisbane lost their way 18-6 up. Playmaker Anthony Milford was the only player to make multiple errors (two) so the inconsistency was spread around the team. Heading into this game their season average was 8.2 errors per game so it was a very un-Brisbane like effort to make so many in the second stanza.

A consequence of the axing of Roosters pivot Jackson Hastings was the elevated game time it meant for goal-kicking back-rower Sio Suia Taukeiaho who played 80 minutes for the first time since round five. Upon return from his month out injured Taukeiaho played 34 minutes in round ten on the Gold Coast but featured for the entire game as the Roosters were beaten 32-20 by the Bulldogs on Sunday. To go with his two successful kicks from four attempts Taukeiaho made 44 tackles and ran 11 times for 105 metres (the second most of any Roosters forward behind Boyd Cordner – 114 metres.) In the tradition of club legend and goal-kicking forward Craig Fitzgibbon Taukeiaho’s role could be crucial through the Origin period as Trent Robinson’s side try to salvage something from a season they are quickly losing touch with after only two triumphs. It’s especially interesting for people who own Taukeiaho in fantasy competitions given he can expect to play a full match if Hastings remains banished to the Wyong Roos.

Last week we honed in on a disappointing Knights effort, but despite another defeat this weekend at Five Metre Gap HQ we thought it worthy to praise the efforts of Daniel Saifiti. The interchange forward played 47 minutes and ran for 221 metres in an effort which also saw Saifiti, 20, break two tackles and make two offloads. The Fijian international made a strong claim for a starting spot against the Eels in round 12 with the most metres gained of any forward in the match won 20-12 by the Wests Tigers.

Another interchange forward who ran the most of any forward in their game, this time in a winning team, was Titan Agnatius Paasi. The Auckland-raised forward ran for 125 metres from 9 runs in a dynamic effort which included a try three minutes before half-time. Paasi, a Tongan international, broke five tackles and logged a line break as the Titans won by four points at the foot of mountains.

This wrap first appeared on From the sideline of sport


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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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