Almanac Rugby League: Five Metre Gap – NRL Round 6, 2016

@hamishneal

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the sixth round of the NRL. Newcastle and the Roosters each registered their first wins of this campaign with Brisbane two points clear at the top.

With top sides often accused of lacking flair it was notable Brisbane’s second and third tries from Thursday night in their 26-0 triumph over the Dragons came from kicks. These tries were also the second and third from kicks Wayne Bennett’s side had registered all season. Up until that point, including Corey Oates’ opening four-pointer, only one of their 18 tries this campaign came from kicks. Given this lack of tries from kicks prior to round six should Brisbane have been easier to plan to defend against? A 5-1 record suggests not but now the Broncos have pulled out a few extra threats on attack including the athletic display from Anthony Milford.

Kicking out to an early lead helped Parramatta immensely as they vanquished the Raiders 36-6 on Saturday with coach Brad Arthur tweaking playing time and planned substitutions which resulted in Origin backrower Beau Scott playing only 34 minutes. Playing 59 and 74 minutes in the two weeks prior the former Knights forward, having scored his side’s fourth try nine minutes from the interval, was rested for longer than normal with a view to their quick turn-around and to rest some niggling injuries. On Sunday there were details about a study looking at playing on a five-day turnaround which suggested a side’s hope of winning the following game didn’t drop as much as what popular belief would have you think (damn those pesky facts). However I’d suggest Arthur was looking towards not only the Manly encounter in round seven but the following fortnight when the blue and yellows play in Townsville then meet the Bulldogs. All this could come to very little if they cop a large points deduction for alleged salary cap breaches but it’s intriguing to note how much their coaching staff are thinking during one game about the next game and giving themselves a chance at least, points penalty or not.

In the interests of balance, after we pointed out a below par effort from the Knights bench in recent weeks, it’s notable how important the Newcastle bench forwards were on the weekend as Nathan Brown’s team edged the Tigers 18-16. Former Dragon Jack Stockwell (111 metres) and Daniel Safiti (100 metres) produced error-free displays with Safiti’s twin brother Jacob, 77 metres, chipping in. It was a big turnaround from even the prior round when only Stockwell (103 metres) from the Newcastle replacements got over 68 metres.

With his third NRL club Kiwi born-centre Hymel Hunt appears to have found a home and is improving at the Rabbitohs. Once of the Melbourne Storm and the Titans before that the 22 year-old provided the flick on for the Bunnies opening try as they were beaten 17-10 by the Roosters and has scored two tries this season. Aside from Greg Inglis the outside backs of the Rabbitohs are amongst the most inexperienced in the competition so a gradual improvement is need if Michael Maguire’s side is to progress up the table, that said they have scored 134 points and have Adam Reynolds set to return. A key issue with Hunt’s progress will be if Inglis is moved into the centres when Alex Johnston is available. This move could be at Hunt’s expense.

The round concluded with a gripping contest in Melbourne which saw the Bulldogs triumph 18-12 over the Storm after they absorbed a huge amount of pressure from the Storm attack. The opening Bulldogs try came against the run of play and by halftime the Storm had been tackled inside the Canterbury ‘red zone’ on 20 occasions to the Bulldogs six. One expected the relentless Storm to perhaps run over a fatigued Bulldogs outfit given the home side had six more sets of possession but it was the Storm making errors (five in the second half compared to two by Des Hasler’s outfit) which proved pivotal as the visitor’s moved into fifth on the ladder – above the Storm on points difference.

This 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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