Almanac League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 6 2017

@hamishneal

 

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points your may have missed from round six of the NRL. The Dragons (5-1), who missed the finals in 2016, sit atop the ladder (albeit on points difference) with the Titans and Knights (both 1-5) on the bottom.

 

Playing 57 minutes of the Dragons 35-10 triumph over Manly, forward Paul Vaughan put in an exceptional effort. The ex-Raider ran for 212 metres with a team high 21 runs to go with 29 tackles and two offloads. Vaughan was ably supported by Lesson Ah Mau (154 metres/15 runs) and Joel Thompson (152 metres/14 runs). Like Vaughan and Thompsom another former Canberra player Josh McCrone with four try assists had a stellar game in the victory. McCrone, 29, is playing with a point to prove after St George Illawarra’s decision to recruit Brisbane halfback Ben Hunt (only two years McCrone’s junior) for five seasons from 2018 onwards.

 

Whilst former Eel Kieran Foran played a starring role for the Warriors on Sunday as they beat his old side 22-6, it was an important effort from two representative forwards which helped the Auckland side’s cause. Kiwi international Simon Mannering ran for 183 metres in 19 runs to go with his usual impressive defensive effort of 48 tackles (none missed.) In addition to Mannering, Queensland forward Jacob Lilyman ran for 124 metres from 15 runs and made 33 tackles. A lesson that experience in the forwards matters, and is needed for your backs to thrive.

 

On Friday night Penrith conspired to get beaten 21-20 at home by Souths despite leading 14-8 just prior to the interval. Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary was able to force multiple errors from Souths with his kicking game (primarily targeting Rabbitohs winger Braidon Burns who made four errors) but some poor tactics from Penrith late in the game cost them key field position. Even though drew level towards the end of the game before Adam Reynolds decisive field goal they seemed to get lost when bench player Sione Katoa came on the field. Firstly primary dummy half Peter Wallace was focused to get to acting half each time in the play ball when Katoa first came on the field. Clearly the message didn’t get to Wallace that Katoa was to take over the role (at least in part) but subsequent to that with two hookers on the field forward Trent Merrin was acting half as Penrith ran a poor option down the left wing on a last tackle play. Souths regained possession and nearly scored on the subsequent set. Coach Anthony Griffin needs to give clearer directions to/about his replacements.

 

Staying in Penrith, it was interesting to see Dylan Edwards (deputising at fullback for skipper Matt Moylan who had been dropped for breaching team protocol) was a more than capable replacement. Edwards ran for 175 metres in 18 runs (a better total and average per run than Moylan’s previous week in first grade – 156/21.) Edwards broke five tackles plus he only missed one tackle and made no errors whilst Moylan missed two tackles, made two errors and had four tackle breaks in the 28-6 defeat to the Storm in round five. Ironically the next night playing a grade down for Penrith Moylan and the two other players dropped also featured in a close defeat – this time to the Newcastle Knights‘ reserves. As skipper Moylan will return but Edwards provides solid competition based on Friday night’s effort, plus he has the versatility to play elsewhere in the backline.

 

In a departure from the season norm to date every player got on the field in the NRL from the 17-player squads this weekend. Three players played under double-figure minutes though. Cowboys recruit Sean Fensom played a weekend low five minutes as North Queensland were upset 26-16 by the Tigers. Whilst Warrior Nate Roache and Shark Jeremy Latimore (both nine minutes) featured on a limited basis. In the case of Roache, this was largely due to Isaac Luke who had one of his better games at hooker for the Warriors.

 

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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