Almanac Rugby League – Five Metre Gap: NRL Round 16, 2016


Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from the sixteenth round of the NRL. Two sides, the Eels and Roosters, were on the bye during a weekend which saw a one-point win for the Sharks and a 26-point triumph for the Bulldogs.


Souths discard Chris Grevsmuhl was always bound to score when he came up against his old side on Friday night and the back-rower crushed over taking three defenders with him in the 70th minute to help the Panthers secure their seventh win of the season. Slotting in to the right edge the former Rabbitohs’ combinations with his new team-mates will only improve on the run-up to the finals. Elsewhere for Penrith, half-back Nathan Cleary will be kept on his toes despite a great start to his NRL career as axed play-maker Jamie Soward reminded coach Anthony Griffin of his ability starting as Penrith’s NSW Cup outfit stunned the Newtown Jets (linked to the table-topping Cronulla Sharks in first grade) winning 60-6. Soward’s display saw him have a hand in seven tries plus knock over a perfect ten from ten with the boot against a side that came into the match with the best defensive record.


Speaking of attacking stars, Of all the players yet to play Origin for New South Wales the drums are beating the loudest for West Tigers fullback James Tedesco. Set to have the Blues no. 1 jersey before he was injured in leading up to the first Origin match which was won by Queensland, Tedesco has since returned with more attacking flair and clocked up a stunning stat on the weekend. Having scored his eleventh try this season when he dotted down as his side rallied late before falling 29-20 to Melbourne Tedesco has now scored or had an involvement in 50 of the Tigers tries since the start of the 2015 season. With nine try assists so far this season the custodian is continuing on from a great run last year which saw him score 17 four-pointers. Incumbent NSW fullback Matt Moylan has 11 try assists but a meagre two tries this season and is playing in a side with only one more victory than the Tigers. I haven’t touched on defence but that isn’t the Blues primary problem – they struggle to score tries.


Three forwards broke a major attacking mark on the weekend running for over 200 metres, and a fourth nearly got there. NSW Origin hopeful Trent Merrin ran for 235 metres (24 runs) to go with a mammoth 45 tackles and three offloads as Penrith beat Souths 28-26. In the same game Souths’ Sam Burgess ran for 220 metres (22 runs) plus 36 tackles, four offloads and a try. Jason Taumololo ran for 209 metres, scored a double and made 16 tackles as his Cowboys’ won in Townsville. On Saturday night Bulldog Aiden Tolman got close to the 200-metre mark running for 199 metres (24 runs) and made a huge 43 tackles.


It wasn’t in his run metres but despite his side’s defeat this weekend the 70 tackles from Simon Mannering was a colossal performance as the Warriors lost in Golden point on Saturday night in Cronulla. Whilst Mannering’s effort was noteworthy, and in some ways expected given his history, Saturday night was concerning for the Warrioirs fans with coach Andrew McFadden leaving one of their most dynamic players Tuimoala Lolohea on the bench until 20 minutes remaining in regulation time. Lolohea, 21, seems best suited to fullback – especially with recruit Roger Tuivasa-Sheck missing for the balance of the season.


In a thrilling contest on Monday night as the Cowboys notched up a 30-26 victory we got an eye on some possible problems for New South Wales as they seek to avoid an Origin clean sweep. For North Queensland’s first try Maroons prop Matthew Scott fed Johnathan Thurston who passed back to his inside and had Kiwi international Taumololo running on the angle to burst past the Manly defence for the opening points. Substitute Taumololo for Canberra’s Queensland representative Josh Papalii and it’s just the kind of try one could see Queensland scoring in Sydney on July 13.


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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