Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 15, 2016


Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the fifteenth round of the NRL. In an abridged round there were wins for Parramatta, St George Illawarra, New Zealand, and the Gold Coast.

Souths forward Sam Burgess had a quite start to Friday night’s round 14 opener as the Rabbitohs were humbled 30-12. Despite opening the scoring, and only trailing by two points at the interval, Michael Maguire’s side fell apart with an apparent lack of enthusiasm and execution cruelling their hopes. Early on Burgess set the tone when the 2014 Clive Churchill Medal winner failed to take a hit-up in the first set. Associated with setting the benchmark for his team the England international was still a threat off-loading during the game but was well down on his usual impact making 103 metres from 15 runs. Burgess did still make 38 tackles but when stacked up against the Eels Danny Wicks who made 152 metres from 18 runs and 32 tackles Burgess’ output wasn’t the best overall in the game. Teammates Nathan Brown, off the bench, and the returning John Sutton made more metres (116 and 11 respectively) but Burgess’ lack of early involvement seems bizarre for a side lacking key players who ultimately folded in the second stanza.

Friday night’s result for Souths was all the worse given the Eels were coming off the back of having played in Darwin the week prior. The Rabbitohs had an advantage with their opponents having played in hot weather and matching up after a five-day turnaround. The other side that played in the Darwin round 14 game the Gold Coast Titans also won, putting Manly to the sword. Inflicting a sixth straight defeat on the Sea Eagles Neil Henry’s team won 30-10 scoring five tries to two against a side missing key players but unable to take advantage of some decent field possession which was laid on by Jake Trbojevic (151 metres) and Martin Taupau (133 metres.)

For the winners on Monday night the Titans benchmark was set by forwards Ryan James and Zeb Taia who made 74 and 70 metres respectively in the first half alone. Taia, who ended with 142 metres, and James, on 119 metres, topped their forward pack. Country Origin representative James in particular was key to the win with a try to open the second half and playing a hand in a Luke Douglas’ four-pointer.

Edged out 12-10 in Auckland on Sunday it was a surprise the Roosters didn’t take advantage of the Warriors team changes during the game. The Penrose-based outfit moved Nathaniel Roache to the wing and the Mount Albert Grammar School alum performed well but under only moderate pressure from the visiting team. Whilst pivot Ryan Matterson did bomb into the corner Roche was defending they made limit running moves, particularly late in the game. Given Roache would have rarely defended on the outside of Blake Ayshford it could have proven more beneficial. Making 80 metres wasn’t as much of a focus for the utility when he replaced Thomas Leuluai after the playmaker was concussed eight minutes into the game but he was a solid make-shift replacement making only one error.

St George-Illawarra saluted 20-10 against an under-strength (even for the Origin period) Melbourne outfit on Saturday and unlike recent weeks they got their share of luck with penalties. Dragons coach Paul McGregor has lamented getting only one penalty combined in the second half of their last three matches up to round 14 so he would have been happy to see Melbourne concede seven penalties in the first half alone, only one less than the Dragons all game. Craig Bellamy’s side conceded four penalties in the second period. McGregor would allow himself some satisfaction at the result, and be thankful Melbourne were missing even more players than their usual suspects around origin time. However, the result wasn’t flattering as the eighth-placed Dragons had seven more sets than the Storm and still made 12 errors.

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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