Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 2, 2016


Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the second round of the NRL which saw the Parramatta Eels turn over the reigning premier North Queensland Cowboys 20-16 with 2014 champs South Sydney picking up another victory.

Falling to 0-2 after a 15-point defeat to Brisbane the pressure has intensified on the New Zealand Warriors but their disappointing loss at Suncorp Stadium saw them only make five errors, the least of any side across the weekend. The visitors completed 86% (31/36) of their sets so it wasn’t as if they couldn’t secure possession but their lack of creativity on attack and lack of zip with Shaun Johnson and Issac Luke making four runs between them must continue to frustrate the loyal fans of the Penrose outfit.

Elsewhere the Warriors, even before their injuries on Friday night, took an interesting approach to their interchanges pulling the trigger early during their 25-10 defeat. Prop Ben Matulino came on after 19 minutes which is the usual time for the first interchange to be made by a coach, in the 2015 season. Granted it’s a small sample size but in round one coaches made their first alteration after 23 minutes, followed by their next move four minutes late. Round one last year saw the first change on 19 minutes and the second came after 23 minutes. For a side possibly fatigued from playing in hot conditions in round one the reasoning by coach Andrew McFadden to get Matulino on early was sound but ultimately it didn’t help the cause given the two injuries sustained to Blake Ayshford and Manu Vatuvei.

Looking at bench impact and again, despite a defeat the Roosters had one of the most impactful players off the bench on the weekend with Sam Moa logging 134 metres in his time on the park which was just shy of 40 minutes. In that contest which the Roosters eventually threw away their chance at victory as the Raiders snuck home 21-20 Canberra actually had the players with the most gains off the bench across the weekend with Paul Vaughan, Iosia Soliola and Jeff Lima all picking up huge metres. This primarily came about when Shaun Fensom left the field injured in the opening stages with Soliola playing the balance of the fixture and racking up 134 metres. Even allowing for Soliola’s performance, the efforts of Lima (145 metres) and Vaughan (169 metres) far and away meant the Raiders got the best use of their bench on the weekend.

Staying with that game in Bruce and Italian international Aidan Guerra has had a torrid start to the season with some horrible defensive reads and eight missed tackles across the opening two games. Now Guerra is not the player to miss the most tackles even by his team this weekend but for a representative player the 28 year-old has to do better. Given the absences in the Sydney pack Trent Robinson will be wanting more from the Origin forward in the coming weeks.

Finally, spinning back to Thursday night and despite the Bulldogs 18-16 triumph David Klemmer will be having a grumpy week as he is facing a sanction for touching a referee. Interestingly when James Graham was put on report for a shoulder charge Klemmer was trying to make an impact in the tackle, but ended up half shoulder-charging his teammate Graham. A baffling few incidents indeed. Given Klemmer is not as starting player, and with reduced interchanges now in effect, the 22 year-old’s contract negotiations this year could be an interesting as his game time drops and faces more time on the sideline due to ill-discipline.

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.

Leave a Comment