Five Metre Gap – NRL Round 10 2016

@hamishneal

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the tenth round of the NRL. The Australian/New Zealand top flight competition resumed with a golden point victory to the Dragons and included a record win for the Sharks over the hapless Knights.

As Penrith sealed a 12-point win in Christchurch over the Warriors to leap into seventh spot one of their representative back-rowers played a huge role in the triumph. Unlike City forward Bryce Cartwright’s efforts of recent weeks James Fisher-Harris had had a quite a tidy few weeks without as much attention. The Junior Kiwis representative ran for 85 metres, three less than Cartwight but the Kohukohu-native played 14 minutes less than his teammate. Fisher-Harris made 41 tackles, compared to 30 from Cartwright, in addition to a second half try assist. Rightly Cartwright gets plaudits, and Fisher-Harris does need to work on his defence after missing five tackles in the 30-18 triumph, but all of Penrith’s edge forwards are playing well.

Whilst the nightmare Dane Gagai had as fullback for the Knights when Cronulla routed them 62-0 on Sunday in Newcastle has gained plenty of focus for not the first time this season the Knights bench failed to help their starting 13, or coach Nathan Brown, adequately when they have entered the game. Fiji forward Korbin Sims could only muster nine runs coming on early in the game: he played 69 minutes, for 56 metres. By way of comparison Mickey Paea in 27 minutes made 56 metres. Sims also missed four tackles, which was not the lowest on the day but for a side which has now seen ten players debut in the NRL this season a player of four years’ experience must do better.

Picking up their fifth win of the season on Friday night the Dragons must have a sense of get out of jail given almost every major team statistic meant they should have beaten Canberra handily instead of needing Euan Aitken’s try from Jack Wighton’s risky pass to get them over the line at Kogarah. Ricky Stuart’s side failed to complete 13 of their 40 sets making 19 errors. Canberra outgained Paul McGregor’s outfit by 59 metres in the first half before the Red V turned things around but despite multiple Canberra errors St George Illawarra only grabbed one try in each game stanza. The Dragons missed tackle count of 46 was the second worst of the weekend behind the Knights (53.)

Melbourne (29), Penrith (29) and Souths (25) all won games this weekend completing less than 30 sets, a recent benchmark we have discussed. Cronulla, our (30 Set Standard) TSS team we first identified, won for the eighth time this campaign and did it completing 27 sets. Proving it’s not how often you have the ball what you do with it the Knights actually completed at 82% (28/34) much better than the Sharks (71%) 27/38. Shane Flanagan’s side out-gained Newcastle by nearly double 963 metres to 1783 metres.

Finally, in a rarity for this season every player featured off the bench this weekend, that statistic is notable as up to round eight at least one player, on average, every weekend hasn’t played at all. On Monday night City representative back Ryan Matterson looked like he might not get the nod from Trent Robinson but the 21-year old featured late in the game for the Roosters as the Titans ended a five-game losing streak with a 26-6 victory.

This blog first appeared on From the sideline of sport

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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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