Almanac League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 25 2017 + CC Final

@hamishneal

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from round 25 of the NRL. Melbourne moved to 42 points at the top of the ladder as they dispatched the Rabbitohs 64-6 whilst a Roosters win on Saturday night over defending champions Cronulla means Sydney are in pole positions to finish second but Cronulla are out of the top four as it stands with the Eels moving into the top four at the Sharks’ expense.

Brisbane’s surprising 52-34 defeat at the hands of Parramatta on Thursday night to open the round had people rushing to the record books to see if a top side had conceded such a hiding and gone on to win the competition that year. It’s not 52 points but last year Cronulla did fall 32-18 to the Dragons in round 23 last year six weeks before winning the grand final. In the corresponding round 23 in 2015 the Cowboys were beaten 31-18 by Souths before winning the grand final over Brisbane. Interestingly the week later the Cowboys put 50 points on the Warriors in Auckland. The Cowboys ended up finishing third in the regular season before they won that decider in dramatic circumstances. At the end of this round Brisbane are third.

The Broncos suffered a key injury in their eighth defeat of the season and will miss Korbin Sims for the rest of the season after he fractured his right arm. Sims will likely be replaced in the run-on side by Herman Ese,ese who played 33 minutes off the bench. The Newcastle-bound prop did score a try but he only gained 64 metres from eight runs and was responsible for a couple of missed tackles. However if the Auckland-born middle forward can recapture the form of round 24 when he ran for 113 metres in nine runs and was a threat to create second phase play with offloads as Brisbane beat the Dragons he will be a capable replacement for Fijian international Sims.

Saturday night’s two-point win for the Roosters over Cronulla 16-14 was a game both sides will do best to forget before the finals in just under a fortnight, even if it meant Trent Robinson’s side are likely to finish second (they play the Titans in round 26.) The Tricolours made 14 errors and completed at only 66% (21/32.) If not for Paul Gallen conceding a late penalty the game might have moved into extra-time, something both sides would have been keen to avoid ahead of the finals.

Sunday’s late game saw the Dragons beat the Panthers 16-14 in Penrith with a late try to Tariq Sims turning the weekend back towards a positive for the family after younger brother Korbin’s injury. Dragon Sims crossed 15 minutes from time to see St George Illawarra re-take the lead after Josh Mansour’s try early in the second half. Sims, who played the entire match, ran for 160 metres from 16 runs plus made 22 tackles. Penrith, North Queensland and Manly make up places six to eight currently with the Dragons hoping they can beat the Bulldogs in round 26 and lift themselves into the top eight.

On the weekend the Storm ran in 11 tries to beat South Sydney it was ironic to see a former Storm outside back playing a key role in the one of rugby league’s greatest days as Hull FC won the Challenge Cup. Mahe Fonua, who left the Victorian-outfit at the end of the 2015 season, scored a four-pointer in each half as the Humberside club retained their title in rugby league’s greatest knockout tournament winning 18-14 over Wigan at Wembley Stadium in London. Fonua is returning to the NRL in 2018 to join the Wests Tigers. But the Storm seemed to have gone well without him as wingers Josh Addo-Carr and Suliasi Vunivalu each crossed three times (although one was a penalty try allocated to Vunivalu) as Craig Bellamy’s side swept aside Souths. Vunivalu is equal top of the try-scoring ranks with 22 (same as Alex Johnston from Souths) with Addo-Carr on 19 for the season.

This rugby league 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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