Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 8, 2016


Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the eighth round of the NRL. Canberra pinned 60 on the Tigers and the Bulldogs picked up a one-point win after nearly throwing away a 12-point lead.

Mike Cooper’s shift to the starting line-up has paid dividends for the Dragons, who triumphed on Monday 20-18, with the joint-venture outfit having secured two wins on the bounce coinciding with the move of the former Warrington forward to the starting side. Ex-Warriors prop Russell Packer has been relegated to the bench in the switch by St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor. Packer is still producing solid figures, particularly last weekend against the Gold Coast, but Cooper’s 147 metres gained was crucial in the game against the Roosters and it came on the back of 180 metres the weekend prior. Cooper, 27, has also made 59 tackles across the last two games

As evidenced by Valentine Holmes’ late try at Shark Park Cronulla has attacking skill to score from almost anywhere on the park and they will need to use that flair coupled with attacking efficiency as they are bucking recent NRL trends winning games with less than 30 completed sets. As much as completions are important getting a certain volume of those completed sets is crucial to success in the NRL with 30 considered a benchmark. Remarkably Shane Flanagan’s side completed only 25 sets, with a 79% completion rate, in beating the Panthers 20-18. Their last two victories (Canberra and the Gold Coast) have also come with under 30 completed sets. By way of example Canberra (38 sets), Brisbane (35 sets), plus Canterbury and North Queensland, both 33, all won with a significant amount of completed sets this weekend.

Brisbane registered their seventh triumph this season with an emphatic 30-8 victory over South Sydney despite losing one of their lynch-pins in rake Andrew McCullough to a hamstring injury. Kodi Nikorima, 22, filled in ably and scored the first of Brisbane’s five tries six minutes from the interval. However it was the effort of Jarrod Wallace which caught the eye at Five Metre Gap HQ. With 14 runs, which gained 184 metres, Wallace was crucial as the Broncos cemented top spot in the weekend’s first game.

Manly picked up their fourth win of the campaign with a 26-10 triumph over the Knights but the manner in which Nathan Brown’s charges conceded their fourth try was most disappointing. Down by ten points with two minutes to go and left defending your own line isn’t fun but it was unacceptable Sea Eagle Nate Myles was afforded easy options to offload to fellow forward Jake Trbojevic. It didn’t match the determination Newcastle showed at times especially as displayed by winger Nathan Ross in the first half.

As Melbourne’s Jesse Bromwich scored the Storm’s third try of the night in the Monday nightcap Warriors coach Andrew McFadden made an early change hooking prop forward Sam Lisone for what looked to be tactical reasons. 18 minutes is early for a prop to go off, even allowing for the new interchange rules, but Lisone seemed somewhat of a scapegoat despite having made only two runs in that time. Four of his team-mates had each given away penalties in that period and one of those was Blake Ayshford getting sin-binned. Maybe Lisone was the unlucky player who needed to be substituted early to send a message to the rest of the outfit. It didn’t help a great deal the Storm scoring twice more in the half before running out 42-0 victors.

This review first appeared on







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.

Leave a Comment