Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 12, 2016


Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the twelfth round of the NRL, the first split round of the season. Canberra defeated the Bulldogs for the second time this season and the Dragons beat North Queensland by four points.

With the first State of Origin game of the year leaving sides missing key players the frustration of Origin was prominent across the weekend but some truisms held, including having key international players in your squad who are not eligible for State of Origin. Canterbury forwards James Graham (England) and Greg Eastwood (New Zealand) ran for the most metres of any forward on the weekend. Falling 32-20 to the Raiders the efforts of the international duo are worth noting with Graham (237 metres from 25 runs) and Eastwood (212 metres from 21 runs) putting in solid performances. Eastwood’s five offloads and six tackles breaks were each a game high also.

Despite defeat in Canberra, and the resultant spray from coach Des Hasler about the absence of Josh Morris, the Bulldogs might have unearthed a future regular first-grader in Reimis Smith. The winger, who played NSW Under 18s last season, not only scored his two tries well but managed to rush up and force an error when the Raiders were on attack at one stage during the game showing some tactical nous to go with his finishing ability. Playing in a team that conceded three tries in the last 15 minutes to throw away a winnable game was disappointing but it was a better than average first grade debut for the Junior Kiwi representative.

After a round 11 19-18 win the Broncos fell to defeat by the same score-line to open round 12 in Brisbane on Friday night. Like their second half last weekend which we wrote about it was errors which cost Brisbane. After eight second half mistakes, despite beating North Queensland, Wayne Bennett’s outfit made six in each half as the Tigers registered their fifth win of the campaign. Stood down from Origin for this season Anthony Milford was prominent in attack, making ten runs, but failed to drive the Broncos to victory despite the home side opening the scoring.

Labelled ‘the best player on the park’ late in the game by Knights premiership-winning halfback Andrew Johns in the Triple M commentary Nathan Ross made the most metres (225) of any player in the Monday night game. To go with his first half try Ross nearly grabbed the winning four-pointer as game wound down but Parramatta claimed the victory. Debuting in first grade as a 26 year-old late last season the former Toulouse Olympique back was a key player for Nathan Brown’s side who almost grabbed their second victory of the campaign.

Granted there were only four games this weekend so the volume of games to analyse the 30 Set Standard (TSS) is smaller than normal but there are still some interesting figures around completions this weekend. The Cowboys defeat came despite the reigning-premiers having 39 completed sets but perhaps highlighted the key aspects around their missing top-line halves combination in Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan. In addition to that, whilst they still had Kiwi international Jason Taumalolo (203 metres) starting props Ben Hannant and Scott Bolton didn’t quite have the same impact as Maroon Matt Scott and Blues forward James Tamou normally would. Meanwhile Parramatta’s 20-18 victory came on the back of completing 25 of their 34 sets. Even if the Knights had got the win late in that game they only completed 27 sets.

This review 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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