Like the way of five metre gap in defence, looking at the points you may have missed from round four of the NRL.
Beaten in golden point by the Bulldogs, after holding a handy lead, the Wests Tigers might be guilty of adopting a conservative approach in terms of their attack to start the year. This is highlighted by the reluctance of their young halves duo to take on the line. Luke Brooks at halfback and 5/8 Mitchell Moses ran only six times combined against the Bulldogs with one of those efforts coming after Brooks snaffled a kick when Canterbury was hard on attack before running 80 metres to score. With a 79% completion rate in the second half the Tigers had sufficient possession to ‘ice’ the game. Their enthusiasm for attack has waned since week one having ran on 20 occasions in the opening four games between them but with a large bulk of those runs, seven, coming in their opening win over the Gold Coast. Brooks in particular has a crucial kicking game close to the line but teams will soon realise what the ‘go-to’ play is likely to be. Perhaps the motto in coming weeks should be ‘a ball in the hand is worth four on the scoreboard.’
It was the Tigers in round three that almost assured their fate when they failed to score twice early on against South Sydney and in round four it was Manly cruelling their own chances almost before the game had begun. The Sea Eagles got their second set of possession after the Dragons had their seventh in a surprising early period at Win Stadium. This left Manly having made 57 tackles to the home side’s 12 and it didn’t get much better once Manly got the ball. Geoff Toovey’s side completed only eight of their 16 sets in the first half. Despite all their wastefulness they only lost the game 12-4, with both sides scoring one try.
Atop the NRL and unbeaten after a month the Newcastle Knights opened the scoring against Penrith with the rare play of a side running it on the last. With the Panthers possibly expecting a chip to the corner Knights pivot Jarrod Mullen fed a short ball to Chris Houston for the forward to crash over after seven minutes. So far the Rick Stone-coached side have 14 tries, it took them six games to reach that mark in 2014 under Wayne Bennett. Fantasy players with the Knights outside backs, or even Chris Houston, will be rejoicing in the league’s new entertainers.
North Queensland played their ‘snatch victory from the jaws of defeat’ card on Monday after trailing 16-4 to Melbourne before a field goal-kicking festival saw Johnathan Thurston pilot home the deciding point. The Cowboys were pretty limp in attack in the first period completing 67% of their sets. The compressed attack with little support play was fairly simple for Melbourne to handle. In their final attacking raid of the half Thurston slipped a ball back inside for one of the Cowboys props to run onto, this was followed with a quick scoot from dummy half by Rory Kostjasyn but on both occasions the lack of further support play nullified any of the enterprise. Conserving energy close to the break could have been the reason for that specific attacking set, which was ultimately futile, but the lack of variety in the opening hour of the game was concerning.
There was no place to hide for the Raiders on Sunday at Allianz Stadium but their disrupted defensive lineups must be concerning to Ricky Stuart. The late change which saw Jeremy Hawkins come in to replace Sisa Waqa on the wing meant already inexperienced defensives blocks were forced into more changes. Shaun Kenny-Dowall then Roger Tuivasa-Sheck both scored inside 11 minutes as the Raiders left side defensive trio of Mitch Cornish (inside) Jarrod Croker and Edrick Lee were tormented. With the Raiders outside backs, bar Croker, changing a lot in the last year due to form, injury or new signings the groups have simply had little time to form combinations to be confident thus causing panic on occasions. Plenty of sides will be beaten by the Roosters this year but a thrashing to the tune of 34-6 so early in the season could set the tone for an underwhelming campaign.