Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 12, 2017



Like the way of the five metre gap in defence, looking at the points you may have missed from round 12 of the NRL with a look ahead to Origin 1. Round 12 saw half the competition on the bye so as a result four games were contested across the weekend with wins for Parramatta, New Zealand, Cronulla and Canberra. All of this comes with the caveat of the Origin series and the fact some sides playing were more understrength than other teams due to the 34 players getting set for Wednesday night’s game.


Parramatta moved up to ninth spot on the ladder after seeing off South Sydney in the first game of the shortened round as pivot Mitchell Moses eases into his new team he was influential in running the ball on the last tackle to set up a late try to Josh Hoffman but an impressive effort from forward Daniel Alvaro was one of the unsung performances. Elevated to the starting line-up Alvaro ran for 146 metres in 16 runs in his 44 minutes on the field plus he made 31 tackles. Only Manu Ma’u 156 metres did better in the Eels pack and Ma’u played the whole game. Alvaro wasn’t dynamic in terms of offloads and tackle breaks but when he had team mates like Kenny Edwards (seven tackle breaks) that task could be left to others.


For the first time this season, the Warriors back three (fullback and two wingers) each ran for over 150 metres with Stephen Kearney’s side registering win number five for the campaign – but they remain in only 13th. Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ran for 214 metres from 20 runs with rookie winger Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad from 15 runs racking up 167 metres and Samoan international Ken Maumalo running from 171 metres from 20 runs. Even allowing for inexperienced players in the opposition, and considering not all runs are equal in significance, the start to the sets this trio were able to establish was critical as the Warriors built a 22-0 lead before winning 28-10.


Tactically the Raiders very nearly cost themselves late on Sunday in Canberra before running out 24-16 winners against the Roosters. Middle forward Junior Paulo got himself into dummy half for some reason with ten minutes to go on a last play when they led 18-12. Paulo threw a high pass to Aidan Sezer and from an already slow play-the-ball the play broke down despite clever kick from Blake Austin. In the Raiders following set Paulo ended up with the ball and decided to run across field on the third tackle when the play should have been a hard run up the middle to set for a field goal. Instead Paulo tried to drop kick towards the touchline or his winger (I’m still not sure.) The following set saw the Roosters score through Latrell Mitchell. Only Michael Gordon’s missed conversion meant the Raiders were still leading but it was a close run thing for the home side. It’s unfair to pin the Raiders’ failure to close the game out earlier on former Eel Paulo but it’s something which the Raiders will not get away with when they meet stronger sides – even allowing for coach Ricky Stuart’s at times valid points about the Roosters splitting their marker defence to disrupt the Raiders.


Like the Raiders, Cronulla nearly fell to defeat at home despite dominating position and possession in their 9-8 triumph over the Bulldogs. Cronulla ran for nearly 400 metres more than the visitors and it was only a late Chad Townsend field goal that saw Cronulla grab the two points. Cronulla’s poor completions in the second period 11/19 (58%) even allowing for Gerard Beale’s try kept the Bulldogs in the game when they had earlier grabbed the lead after 27 minutes. Given Canterbury had to adjust for the loss of middle forward James Graham it was actually promising game for the Bulldogs fans, who currently sit 11th. However, the key issue for Des Hasler’s side remains a lack of direction and attacking zest in the opponents’ red zone.


Finally, a random statistic towards the opening Origin match at Suncorp Stadium. It was interesting to note the preparation of the New South Wales team on the weekend ahead of the game in Brisbane on Wednesday night. On Sunday, Laurie Daley’s side matched up against the Gold Coast Titans Under 20s side in a training session. This may lull the Blues into a false sense of security though depending on the intensity and focus of the session as these Titans youngsters have been profligate in defence during season 2017. Whilst the Ben Woolf-coached outfit are sixth in the 16-team competition, they are leaking points having conceded a whopping 360 in 11 games – at 32.7 points per game. Only the bottom two sides Wests Tigers (362) and Warriors (368) have let in more.


This rugby league wrap first appeared on From 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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