Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 23, 2017



Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from round 23 of the NRL. The Storm beat the Roosters (third) to extend their lead at the top of the ladder to six points edging them closer to confirming the minor premiership whilst the Broncos (second) beat the Sharks (fourth.) The Knights also won their fifth game of the season but the Tigers won their sixth so Newcastle are still in the wooden spoon slot.


After Junior Paulo ran for 200 metres in round 22 when the Raiders won, there was a two over ‘200 plus’ efforts this weekend. On Saturday night both Penrith’s Reagan Campbell-Gillard (229 metres) and the Cowboys’ Jason Taumololo (204 metres) broke the double ton as the home side won 24-16. Panther middle forward Campbell-Gillard off the bench played 65 minutes and also made 39 tackles with Taumololo playing all but four minutes of the match making 32 tackles. In a game which saw the home side prevail after visiting North Queensland suffered a spate on injuries Fijian international Campbell-Gillard was a key player.


Brisbane finished the weekend in second on 32 points after they beat defending premiers Cronulla 32-10. The Friday night triumph in the Queensland capital had an odd synergy to last year’s premiership-winning campaign for Shane Flanagan’s team as they also lost conceding 32 points in round 23 in 2016 (beaten 32- 18 by the Dragons.) The stretch was part of a period which saw Cronulla lose four of their final five matches to limp into the finals in poor form before a turnaround saw them break their Premiership hoodoo beating the Storm in the decider.


The above statistic, and defeat, should perhaps give hope to Roosters fans after they were beaten 16-13 by Melbourne on Saturday night. Now having lost two games on the run after a 36-18 defeat at the hands of Manly in round 22 Trent Robinson’s side have some slight wobbles, however I can’t see them losing two of their next three games given two of those fixtures against are against the Tigers and Titans.


Sunday afternoon’s exciting 30-26 win to the Tigers which pushed them two points clear of the Knights on the bottom of the ladder puts Manly (7th – 28 points) further into the finals uncertainty given they could still finish in the top four, or miss out altogether. The Sea Eagles’ defence at Leichhardt Oval was shambolic as they coughed up a 26-18 lead inside the last 20 minutes missing 43 tackles in the match. Hooker Api Koroisau missed six tackles (NB: two weeks ago against Melbourne he missed nine) whilst pivot Blake Green missed five plus forward Frank Winterstein missed six tackles in his second half stint alone. Coach Trent Barrett has a clear issue to focus on over the next few weeks, and Manly’s opponents have some obvious targets.


Whilst much talk around the Gold Coast has been focused on the relationship between coach Neil Henry and star fullback Jarryd Hayne the Titans imploded on the field – beaten by the Dragons at Kogarah 42-16 on Sunday with players blasting each other after mistakes, and not letting it go. Former NRL player and Sky Sports Radio host Jimmy Smith relayed an interesting example of this on the Big Sports Breakfast Weekend on Sunday. Smith explained after halfback Ash Taylor at one stage sprayed a kick out on the full teammate Jarrod Wallace spent the next three tackles on the following defensive set lambasting the playmaker telling him what he should have done. It is surprising a Queensland origin representative thinks this is constructive form of criticism. The anecdote came during an interview with the Dragons’ Joel Thompson with the St George Illawarra forward noting their side has been guilty of the same issue this season in dwelling on mistakes several sets after something have occurred. In isolation the Taylor/Wallace incident is not great but if it’s a pattern of behaviour on the field for the Gold Coast it may go a long way to explaining why the Titans have won only seven times this season.


This rugby league preview 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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