Almanac League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 14 2017

@hamishneal

 

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from round 14 of the NRL. The result of the 2016 Grand Final re-match saw Melbourne extend their lead at the top of the ladder by four points whilst Penrith moved into the top eight after they won their ‘home’ game played west of the Blues Mountains in Bathurst.

 

After winning their round 14 fixture without skipper Cameron Smith the Storm rested halfback Cooper Cronk as they edged home 18-13 over Cronulla to open the round. With support from Smith and fill-in halves partner Cameron Munster had a huge influence on the game running for a team high 154 metres (Munster was bested in the whole game by only Sharks fullback Valentine Holmes – 201 metres.The Queenslander did miss five tackles but he broke two and proved a capable fill-in in the halves. Much the same as he did at fullback until Billy Slater returned from injury recently.

 

Cronulla custodian Holmes missed a chance to play last year‘s Origin, and probably would, after he was sanctioned by the Queensland Rugby League for an indiscretion at an Emerging Origin camp. Last year Holmes scored 19 tries as the Sharks broke their premiership drought. Interestingly, this season Holmes only has two tries but 48 tackle breaks. An ability to create opportunities will be needed with Holmes set to make his Origin debut on the wing.

 

Speaking of Queenslanders, Matt Gillett seems to have escaped the wrath of Maroons selectors for next week’s game two of the series after New South Wales won game one 28-4. The Broncos forward, who made only five runs in 80 minutes for Queensland, ran 14 times as Brisbane beat Souths on Friday night 24-28 for a gain of 110 metres. It was an improved attacking effort for a player who has two tries and 27 tackle breaks this season but his defence, missing five tackles on Friday evening, might still be of concern for Queensland coach Kevin Walters.

 

In torrential conditions earlier on Friday night at Brookvale the Sea Eagles got home in controversial circumstances 18-14 over the Knights who are still bottom of the ladder but the efforts of both sides should be noted in a wider sense. There were only 18 errors in the contest (some games had over 30 this weekend – looking at your Tigers and Roosters) and five players across both forward packs ran for over 100 metres. Martin Taupau ran for 217 metres from 19 runs in 56 minutes on the park whilst from Newcastle’s bench Jacob Saifiti ran for 130 metres in his 41 minutes.

 

Some completion trends on the weekend were interesting. Melbourne won their game completing only 23 sets and at 66% they weren’t the only winning side to complete less than their opponents plus dip below 70% this weekend. As they rallied late to beat Canberra 24-20 in Bathurst, Penrith completed 62% (23/37) and only completed 11 in the second stanza whilst on Sunday in Campbelltown the Roosters completed 63% (26/41) but won handily 40-18 over the Tigers. This gives use a reminder that it’s what you do with the ball that is crucial as much as how much you have it.

 

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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