Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 4, 2016

@hamishneal

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the fourth round of the NRL. No side is left undefeated after the Melbourne Storm lost on Monday evening to Cronulla and the Titans are a surprise top four side.

Edged out on Friday evening 21-20 by Brisbane reigning premiers North Queensland will send out a different 17 for the first time in a while next weekend after Kane Linnett picked up a shoulder injury but one of their normally lively players will also be feeling more glum in the wake of the defeat. Starting rake Rory Kostjasyn may have pause for thought after some discipline issues saw him concede four penalties in the contest during his 49 minutes on the park. Not all penalties are equal, and sometimes and you may need to slow down the play to allow you line to reset plus middle players do make more tackles, but if you are responsible for half the penalties your side concedes it is a tad worrying.

On the back of beating the Tigers in round three with only a 67% completion rate the Gold Coast scored a 24-20 triumph in Canberra in stunning fashion. With a weekend best completion rate of 86% (30/35) the Titans failed to complete only one set in the second half (18/19) as Neil Henry’s side scored three tries in a 13-minute period to seal their third win of the season.

Pushing the offload hasn’t been a path to success thus far in 2016 with Souths (62) and Penrith (58) the top two sides in off-loads combining for only three wins in eight games. Beaten by 30 points on Friday the Rabbitohs 18 attempts, split evenly in each half, failed to really spark anything of note and Penrith’s 11 offloads in a tight contest in Wollongong weren’t enough to see off the Dragons as Anthony Griffin’s side were beaten 14-12.

In an attempt to spark something from his side in search of their first win for the 2016 campaign Roosters coach Trent Robinson benched five-eight Jayden Nikorima with the Kiwi-born half making way for Aidan Guerra (who we have discussed already this season.) However with one of his early touches when he came on in the second half he kicked a ball dead in goal with only two of his teammates even making half an attempt to chase through. It was a smart idea to make the play out of dummy half but given his teammates only seemed alert to the play after the fact it was a poor option. Even a cross field kick would have been a better idea. The former Bronco didn’t attempt another kick in his remaining time on the field as his side was denied a first win of the season beaten 22-20 by Manly.

Newcastle, who suffered their third defeat of the campaign, must be scratching their heads about what area to address first but one must certainly be the impact of their bench. None of their four bench players, some with more minutes than others, ran for over 44 metres and broke only two tackles combined. Coach Nathan Brown will need to address the efforts of (in particular) the bench forward trio of Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Mickey Paea and Pauli Pauli. Tongan international Paea did make 30 tackles but the overall bench, including utility Tyler Randell needed more zip and impact. In a match which saw the Knights miss 37 tackles it’s not the only work on required but is significant.

This 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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