Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 5, 2017



Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points, you may have missed from round five of the NRL. Manly ended the Roosters unbeaten start to the campaign as Melbourne extended their winning streak to five game with a 28-6 triumph over Penrith.


Manly (3-2) moved into fifth spot as Martin Taupau continued an impressive return from suspension on Friday night. The former Tigers forward has made a huge 32 runs over the last two games. As Manly beat the Roosters 18-12, he made 15 runs for 172 metres with four offloads and last weekend against the Bulldogs he made 17 runs for 166 metres plus five offloads. On each occasion, this was a best total run mark among Manly forwards and he did this averaging 58 minutes per game. After finding himself suspended for two games following a shoulder charge in the season-opening contest against the Eels, the Kiwi international has repaid coach Trent Barrett in recent weeks.


Another top performing forward, this time from a losing side, was Zane Musgrove as Souths lost 20-6 in Townsville. Playing 25 less minutes (51) than highly-pedigreed Sam Burgess Musgrove equalled Burgess output of 133 running metres. This was no fluke as Musgrove ran for a team best 160 metres (as we pointed out last week.) Importantly, in a team which has made 26 errors in their last two games, Musgrove is a reliable player in that regard with no errors.


Defence remains an issues for the Wests Tigers, specifically their right-side defence which gave up three tries in a 25-minute period on Sunday – all going to Dragons winger Jason Nightingale. As St George Illawarra (4-1) ran out 28-6 winners winger Davd Nofoaluma with centre Kevin Naiqama and pivot Mitchell Moses on his inside had no answer to the Dragons wit Gareth Widdop playing a key part in exposing their weaknesses. This should be a huge concern for the Tigers as, in theory, the left side which includes winger Moses Suli (who only debuted in the NRL this year) and Jamal Idris (who only joined the Tigers in the off-season) should be the ‘weaker’ combination of the two sides which other clubs target.


Two interchange players went un-used this weekend, both from winning teams, Manly didn’t use Jackson Hastings (who has featured on this topic already this season) and replacement half Ata Hingano missed out on action as the Warriors won 28-22. With Kieran Foran influential in the Warriors victory over the Titans Hingano may be back in the second tier and the Warriors could be more likely to hand the utility spot to Tui Lolohea, who didn’t feature in the top grade this weekend. 10-7 winners from Thursday night, the Bulldogs had Raymond Faitala-Mariner see only three minutes of action late in the victory over Brisbane and in a similar vein as the Raiders beat the Eels 30-18 with hooker utility Adam Clydsdale only playing five minutes.


Sunday afternoon saw two sides win completing 80% or better in a round of impressive completion statistics. The Warriors (30/36) 83% and the Dragons (33/38) 87% completed the best of any winning side this weekend however special mention should go to the two teams that played on Friday night. Playing in very wet conditions at ANZ Stadium, the losing side Brisbane, who led until the 59th minute, completed at 88% (30/34) whilst winners Canterbury won with 76% (32/42) The conditions dictated a cautious approach but it was still a good contest all things considered.


This NRL review 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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