Five Metre Gap – NRL Round 3 2014

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from the third weekend of the 2014 NRL season.

Despite plenty of focus about how Canterbury can (a) afford their current buying spree and (b) find a place in the squad for the any new addition a relevant footnote might be how much game time the big boppers will get. Interestingly prop forward David Klemmer played less than 15 minutes off the bench for the second game in three weeks. Playing 14 minutes in round three and 13 minutes when the Bulldogs were beaten first-up by Brisbane. Whilst two games might not indicate a trend as yet it’s noteworthy given Tim Grant played over 30 minutes off the pine for Penrith who beat the Bulldogs at the buzzer 18-16 on Saturday.

The Wests Tigers and Gold Coast triumphs in round three were full of merit after surviving stifling conditions the previous weekend in south-east Queensland. Wests backed up from their Sunday afternoon victory to dispatch Souths on Friday night. Not only was the Titans triumph in the nation’s capital impressive but at the stage of the match the impact from last weekend’s fatigue should have been setting in they rolled over Canberra with an Albert Kelly double in the final two minutes. Coach John Cartwright’s decision to cancellation training on Thursday proving fruitful for the Robina-based outfit.

Six attacking runs in three games and gaining only 11 metres in one of those weeks looks to have cost Parramatta halfback Luke Kelly his starting role this weekend. In fairness to the Northern Territory native Kelly he did have two try assists in the demolition of the Warriors, and fullback Jarryd Hayne does make his presence known, but Brad Arthur is trying to put together a side to beat the determined Panthers not the ‘hot and cold’ Warriors so the former Storm man has made way for costly playmaker Chris Sandow.

Manly’s make-shift five-eighth Wellentony Tafua Satini was the target for special attention as the Sea Eagles edged Parramata on Sunday afternoon. The Blacktown native, operating with some seasoned defenders around him, was still picked off by Parramatta in attack and the 20 year-old ended up missing nine tackles having made 13. The Panthers Under 20’s product was a clear target replacing the missing Kieran Foran.

Your correspondent drove through Alex McKinnon’s home town of Aberdeen, located in the Upper Hunter shire in New South Wales, back in January. One of the first things I noticed in the town which is home to less than 2,000 people was the banner already up promoting player registration for junior rugby league. All the best Alex and those around him.


Five Metre Gap – NRL Round 2 2014

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from the second weekend of the 2014 NRL season.

In South Sydney’s two-point loss to Manly on Friday evening five-eighth Dylan Walker ran nine times for 66 metres, however go-to playmaker Adam Reynolds (accused of going missing in key games late in 2013) took some poor options as the game reache dit’s dying stages after a quiet night throughout. His key statistics were less than half of Walker’s, running only four times for 18 metres. It is reasonable to assume with big ball-runners on the edge for Souths that maybe Reynolds isn’t as focused on running as other halves but for Walker and some-time 5/8 Sutton (nine runs-59 metres) to each have more than double the output of the 23 year-old is at least odd and at worst concerning for Bunnies fans. Reynolds also had less receives 40-36 compared to Walker. So is Walker, already over-calling Reynolds at round two?
On the flip side to this ‘halves running the show’ argument Melbourne are easing in Ben Hampton with 20 receives which saw him run six times for a yield of 31 metres in the dramatic 18-17 triumph over Penrith. Cronk did run less four times for 26 metres but took double the amount of controlling ball at the ruck compared to the Temora-raised 22 year-old. Interestingly, Hampton was well and truly the dominant halves player when he partnered Parramatta discard Ben Roberts in round one running 10 times to Roberts’ five and splitting the receives almost 50/50 at 38 to 37 .
Last week it was Warriors recruit Jason Bukuya letting down the back-rowers fraternity missing eight tackles as the Warriors were humbled by the Eels, this week it was a Queensland forward missing the boat in hot conditions. For his 25 minutes on the field Titan Dave Taylor made an impressive 21 tackles in oppressive conditions on the Gold Coast against the Tigers but also missed nine. An ex-trainer of Taylor and former Broncos high-performance head Dean Benton recently told News Corp Australia the Queensland origin representative isn’t at his optimal playing weight and round two would seem to highlight that.
Dynamic Canberra fullback Anthony Milford hit the heights in terms of tackles breaks with 12 as the Raiders won in Newcastle during round two. Even Tigers custodian James Tedesco (10) and Roosters skipper Anthony Minichiello (9) whose side’s scored seven and ten tries respectively couldn’t match the 19 year-old’s performance as the Raiders over-ran Newcastle 26-20. How far away is the June deadline for Raiders fans?
Emanating out of the Raiders victory at Hunter Stadium it’s interesting to note the side from the nation’s capital may have had a small psychological victory over Knights forward Willie Mason who last year criticised the club’s leadership group in the wake of the capital club’s player personal/off-field drams. The Hunter Valley side don’t have long to wait for revenge though with the two sides due to meet again in round six in Canberra.

Five Metre Gap – NRL Round 1 2014

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from the first weekend of the 2014 NRL season.

For once Chris Houston didn’t top the Knights tackle count with hooker Travis Waddell, 24, ripping through 52 tackles in his 57 minutes on the park. The former Raider has seemingly started each recent season unsure as whether he will have a contract at all with the NRL All-Stars fixture often attacking as a pseudo-trial for him at times. However due to the Knights injury issues during the first match, a 30-8 reverse at the hands of Penrith, he played possibly more minutes than coach Wayne Bennett had planned.

The Warriors have acted swiftly to address a confused part of their defence constantly troubled by the Eels in attack. The Auckland-based franchise often switched their right side defence, with players like Shaun Johnson and Carlos Tuimavave, spending time in the first half changing defensive spot on that side. Whilst that cued confusion no doubt interestingly it was one of the new buys (purchased to presumably bring steel to the Warriors defense) Jason Bukuya who missed an unacceptable eight tackles as the Warriors fell 36-16 to last season’s bottom side. Jermoe Ropati has replaced Tuimavave for round two.

The Bulldogs attempt to penetrate the Broncos on attack was an interesting study on Friday evening with Trent Hodkinson (six-46 metres) having more runs than key play-maker Josh Reynolds who had five for 25 metres gaines. Whilst the pursuit of Andrew Fifita has drawn headlines it could be the pressure placed on Josh Reynolds as the  go to man in attack which is more likely to occupy Des Hasler’s mind in the immediate future.

Despite the fact Manly lost, they made a good case for no-name front rowers and the other end of the prop spectrum. Former Rabbitoh Josh Starling (48 minutes, 19 tackles, 9 runs) and ex-Titan Brenton Lawrence (49 mins, 34 tackles 15 runs) are not house-hold names but performed admirably given Manly has been shorn of experienced players like Brent Kite (now with Penrith) and were missing Jason King in their ‘Golden Point’ loss to the Storm. Lawrence did miss four tackles but when you are making that volume a player must be cut some slack.

Off the-field the interesting aspect of the announcement regarding Cameron Smith extending his stay in Melbourne wasn’t so much for the signing itself but the fact that the ‘after career’ aspect for the 30 year-old hasn’t gone in the direction people though it might. A lot has been speculated about Smith as a future coach with the hooker thought to be offered assistant coaching roles as a part of any new deal however the Australian captain seemed to quash a possible coaching career when speaking with RSN Sport Radio on Wednesday morning. Smith, when questioned about a coaching career, offered the following “I couldn’t see myself putting in the time Craig Bellamy does.”