Like the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from the eleventh round of the season, the first round to be impacted with byes.
On the cusp of Origin game one we look at surprising completion statistics which fired teams to wins and why a sacked coach might have been right about a player after all. Starting in Canberra with the Raiders. Playing North Queensland, the Green Machine were 12-point leaders at the break courtesy of a Jack Wighton try on the interval and with the game still in the balance the Raiders raced away to win by 30 points in the second half. Interestingly though Ricky Stuart’s outfit seemed to be doing their best to gift their opponents multiple chances to get back in the game by completing only 11 of their 20 second half sets (55%). The Cowboys fared little better completing only nine of their 15 sets (60%.) Their own profligacy ruined any chance of a comeback for Paul Green’s men despite Curtis Rona’s try early in the second stanza. Overall the poor handling also somewhat dispelled the myth of day games producing better spectacles.
During Neil Henry’s reign at 1300 Smiles Stadium it was often queried as to why the now-20 year-old Jason Taumalolo could not get a spot given the early promise the rampaging forward had shown. This had resulted in the boom player getting elevated to a New Zealand squad in 2012 but unable to nail down a spot under Henry’s tutelage. However the 2013 Tongan World Cup representative seems to have gotten more of a run under Green but he was well off his game defensively as the Cowboys were dispatched in the afore-mentioned 42-12 loss to Canberra. Taumalolo, missing 7 of the 25 tackles he attempted off the bench, will need to pick up his game against the Melbourne Storm in round 12.
Eighth-placed Brisbane’s Ben Hunt has become a key cog for the Broncos and one of the most improved halves in the competitions this season. Targeted when in defense Hunt was required to make 24 tackles and missed only one in their controversial two-point triumph over the Wests Tigers. So whilst the plaudits have come for the 24 year-old’s playmaking ability he has improved in that manner whilst also maintaining a high standard in defense, The Rockhampton product had also made 19 tackles in the week prior when Anthony Griffin’s side beat the Gold Coast by 14 points.
Ahead of round 12 it’s interesting to note that since the New Zealand Warriors last played at their ‘home’ ground of Mt Smart Stadium in the Auckland suburb of Penrose on August 31 2013 in addition to changing their own coach the Warriors have seen five other NRL clubs (Canberra, Cronulla, North Queensland, Parramatta, and St George Illawarra) either sack their coach or have them replaced.
Last week in Five Metre Gap we said the following “I’m sure (Benji) Marshall won’t by the last player to fall victim to Hayne’s quick thinking and given his sole training session with halves partner Gareth Widdop prior to the fixture one can expect marked improvement given the fortnight of training with St George Illawarra on the bye this weekend.” Unluckily for Marshall, and his teammates, the decision by the club to sack Steve Price as coach means any benefit they may have derived in spending a fortnight in preparing and game-planning for South Sydney with be negated by a week of upheaval at the joint-venture franchise.