Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 24, 2017

@hamishneal

 

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from round 24 of the NRL. With still two rounds to go Melbourne Storm secured the minor premiership, and the $100,000 prize-money that goes with it, winning in Newcastle whilst the Raiders defeat at the hands on Penrith in Canberra on Sunday means they are all but out of finals contention unless the Dragons and Manly both lose their remaining two games.

 

Melbourne’s minor premiership was confirmed after they beat the Knights 44-12 on Saturday. Despite victories to the Broncos (second) and Roosters (third) the Storm still have a six-point margin at the top of the ladder. Craig Bellamy’s side, in addition to securing the JJ Giltinan Shield gave the chance to young half Brodie Croft to feature again with star playmaker Cooper Cronk rested. Croft scored three tries and laid on another in his fourth NR game so will be well in form if needed during the finals series. But in all likelihood it will be his last game until the start of 2018 with Cronk leaving the club, or retiring, in the off-season.

 

After a run of big forward efforts there was another this weekend as Sharks skipper Paul Gallen ran for 218 metres in fourth-placed Cronulla’s 26-16 triumph in Townsville. The former Blues skipper played all but seven minutes of the match making 36 tackles to go with his 22 runs as Shane Flanagan’s side led 26-6 until two late scores restored some respectability for the home side. Paul Green’s side now lay seventh and face the Tigers in Sydney before hosting the Broncos in round 26.

 

Penrith moved into sixth spot on 30 points after a stirring win in Canberra on Sunday as Tryone May crossed seven minutes from time to seal the 26-22 triumph and in all likelihood secure Anthony Griffin’s team a finals spot. Since round 18 when they beat Manly they’ve gone unbeaten but until the weekend only once in that period (round 19 when they beat the Warriors) had they not played at home so the draw has been somewhat of a charmed one. Despite the win their was concerns with the defence of Bryce Cartwright who has recently returned from injury with the edge forward missing six tackles, five of those in the first half after he came on 17 minutes into the contest.

 

Sunday’s other fixture saw Manly squander a chance to improve on their eight spot on the ladder only to suffer a 14-point defeat at the hands of the hitherto hapless Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium. Canterbury, who had only won seven of their 21 games heading into the fixtures, won 30-16 – the only time they have score more than 24 points this season. Manly’s left-edge defence of winger Mat Wright and Brian Kelly was targeted as Des Hasler’s team crossed for six tries. Kelly alone missed six tackles which will be a concern for Manly mentor Trent Barrett.

 

The beneficiary of Manly’s result was the Dragons in particular after St George Illawarra suffered a 24-12 defeat in Brisbane on Friday night. Aside from Kurt Mann’s seven missed tackle Paul McGregor’s side was hugely let down by one of their experienced players with Australian centre Josh Dugan missing five tackles and making four errors. Dugan’s errors directly led to points for the Broncos and cost his side points in possibly one of his worst game this season which leaves the Red V in ninth spot and currently out of the finals. They have games remaining against Penrith and the Bulldogs – both winners on the weekend.

 

This NRL 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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