Almanac League: Five Metre Gap – NRL Round 19 2016

@hamishneal

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the nineteenth round of the NRL. Cronulla’s roll continued with Monday night’s triumph over the Roosters bringing up 14 wins on the spin. Two of the four sides on the bye, the Cowboys and the Bulldogs, still finished the weekend in third and fourth respectively despite not playing – highlighting the gap between the top six sides and the rest.

Seventh-placed Gold Coast put their potential final rivals on notice thrashing St George Illawarra 32-12 on Friday night at Kogarah and their backline was to the fore helping to lay the platform for their sets and also responsible for scoring four of their six tries. Between numbers 1-5 each back ran for at least 100 metres with Anthony Don ‘only’ running for 119 metres. Fellow winger Nene McDonald, who notched a double, ran for 225 metres and made five tackle busts. That figure was bested by centre Josh Hoffman with who made six tackle busts.

In a big effort on Saturday afternoon Manly’s Darcy Lussick was the only forward to top the 200-metre mark for the weekend (the same amount as round 18) with 201 metres from 17 runs as Manly saw off the Warriors in golden point extra-time in Perth. Former Eel Lussick also made 31 tackles in his 59 minutes on the park in the 15-14 victory. It wasn’t the second top effort of the weekend but given their makeshift side the effort of Manu Ma’u for the Eels to run 169 metres as he was shuffled between positions was terrific despite his side losing 22-18 to Penrith

Staying in the game at nib Stadium and it was a torrid debut for Sea Eagles winger Brad Parker who was targeted by the Warriors in the wet conditions. Parker wasn’t 100% in terms of diffusing kicks that came in his direction but his teammates were equal to the task in supporting him with veteran Jamie Lyon picking up the scraps when Kiwi halfback Shaun Johnson kicked in Parker’s direction, particularly early in the game in an endeavour to unsettle him. Parker, 19, has come through the ranks of the Under 20s with Manly and will hope for an easier outing in round 20 against South Sydney who were thrashed 30-10 by Brisbane on Saturday evening.

In the Broncos 20-point victory at ANZ Stadium things looked bad for Souths from before the game started losing halfback Adam Reynolds in the warm-up but simple errors early on cost them and were then compounded with Michael Maguire’s side letting in three tries in the opening 19 minutes. A basic example of the Rabbithos’ lack of early concentration was hooker Cameron McInnes who wasn’t ready for an off-load from Nathan Brown which meant Souths surrendered possession only to see Lachlan Maranta cross in the ensuing set for Brisbane. One could understand late errors saw as that by McInnes caused by fatigue but if you aren’t paying attention five minutes into the game it probably tells you why they have won only five times this season.

Having mentioned two sides on the bye in round 19 the Cowboys and the Bulldogs, who both meet on Thursday night it’s worth noting the huge advantage one of the other sides who missed this weekend have. Canberra host the Warriors on Saturday afternoon in the ACT with Andrew McFadden’s team having returned from their trip to Perth and the extra-time contest against the Sea Eagles. But at least Tuimoala Lolohea will be well rested for the Warriors with the dynamic back only playing two minutes off the bench late in the game in Western Australia.

This preview 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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