Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 21, 2016


Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the 21st round of the NRL. The Sharks’ winning streak was halted as they played out an 18-all draw against the Gold Coast whilst the Warriors won in golden point having played, and lost, two other golden points game in the fortnight prior.

After Five Metre Gap lauded the dynamic try-scoring ability of the Titans from kicks in last week’s edition Monday night saw their smart kicking game on display as they end Cronulla’s winning run at 15 matches. During the stalemate at Robina Ash Taylor’s cross-field bomb lead to the opening home try when Chris McQueen capitalised on Sosaia Feki’s error in dropping the ball. The second half saw two tries for the Titans to David Mead followed by Anthony Don. Each came in the subsequent set after Neil Henry’s team had forced a goal-line drop-out.

With the Dragons two points out of the top eight their run home got even harder when the weekend’s charge sheets will now see them facing the Broncos on Thursday without at least one key forward, and probably two. Joel Thompson has already accepted a ban for a careless high tackle but Tyson Frizell is hoping to have a charge for contrary conduct (contact with match official) referee thrown out. Whether St George Illawarra miss one, or both of them, it likely means a starting role for Tariq Sims. The mid-season recruit from the Knights made 43 tackles in his 54 minutes on the field as the Dragons were beaten by the Bulldogs 13-10. His 18 runs for 192 metres made him easily the best ball-runner in terms of territory gained all night for the visitors.

Five of the winning sides on the weekend (Warriors, Tigers, Storm, Raiders and Manly) won completing more than 30 sets which is two less sides who reached the mark than last weekend. Although we had one less winner after the Monday night draw in south-east Queensland. Interestingly the two sides that won without completing 30 sets (the Roosters and Bulldogs) both did so winning night games where handling is generally considered more difficult. That’s far too small a sample size for a trend but intriguing in isolation.

Whilst Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic rightly won plaudits for his stellar efforts on Sunday at Brookvale Oval as the Seas Eagles vanquished the Knights 36-16 the efforts of the Manly forwards also deserve high praise. Middle forwards Darcy Lussick and Martin Taupau in their first halt stints alone ran for 164 and 134 metres respectively. Lussick and Taupau finished with 226 and 215 metres to their credit with both not conceding any penalties nor making any errors plus Taupu made a team best six tackle breaks. Some will say it is ‘only the Knights’ but the effort is not to be sneezed at from the Manly forward pack.

2014 Premiers South Sydney suffered a 50-point defeat on Sunday at the hands of third-placed Canberra and Michael Maguire’s side are making the same sort of errors when compare to recent weeks – this is highlighted by hooker Cameron McInnes. In round 19 McInnes made a crucial mistake early against Brisbane and the 22 year-old was ‘asleep at the wheel’ five minutes into the second half at ANZ Stadium when his lazy pass out of dummy half was swooped upon by Raiders fullback Jack Wighton. An unforgiveable error when you have just come off a break. This is not to pick on the Rabbitohs’ rake but Souths, who are currently in 13th place, lack of focus amongst key players which is harming their prospects of getting anything meaningful out of this season.

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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