Five Metre Gap – NRL Round 21 2017

@hamishneal

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence looking at the points you may have missed from round 21 of the NRL. The top three of the Storm, Roosters and Sharks all won with Parramatta, finishing the weekend in sixth spot.

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The Roosters won for the 14th time this season, and are two points I arrears of Melbourne, after a 22-16 triumph over North Queensland on Saturday night. The result was thanks in large part of bench forward Sio Siua Taukeaiho who ran for 199 metres (a team best) scored a try, kicked a goal, and broke six tackles. All this came despite only playing 42 minutes. Taukeiaho was out-gained in the match by fellow Kiwi Jason Taumololo (203 metres) but the Cowboys forward played 61 minutes.

 

As the Storm routed Manly 40-6 on Sunday to move to 34 points plaudits were rightly given to 350-gamer Cameron Smith but it was worth noting the effort of a Storm rookie in the seven tries to one victory. 12-gamer Joe Stimson ran for 109 metres starting on the edge with his 65-minute effort the second best of the team’s forward behind only Jesse Bromwich. Stimson also made 27 tackles to go with his 12 runs plus scored his second career try. The Temora-born forward did concede two penalties but that is offset by his strong work elsewhere. Whilst the Storm were rightly derided for a bizzare celebration during the week their ability to unearth players, give them a role, and have them perform when called up is almost unrivalled in the competition.

 

Brisbane was the only top four side not to win on the weekend going down 28-14 to the Eels on Friday evening in Sydney. Leading 14-12 at the interval Wayne Bennett’s men lost complete direction and discipline giving up six second half penalties as the Eels scored 16 unanswered points. This is compared with the four penalties they gave up in the entire game in their 42-12 win in round 20 against the Bulldogs.

 

With three more trips out of Sydney (to Brisbane, Townsville, and Newcastle) left in their last five games of the regular season the Sharks picked up a much needed 26-12 victory in Auckland on Friday evening. The win was made all the more meritorious with dual Premiership-winning pivot James Maloney absent plus the injury to stand-in 5/8 Fa’amanu Brown who left the field with 21 minutes to go after he suffered a concussion. The Sharks have arguably the hardest end of season draw considering the travel component but their experience in travelling to win finals games in recent years will help them in that regard.

 

They are still in eighth spot but a finals spot is looking more tenuous after the Dragons were beaten 21-14 by the Knights in Newcastle on Saturday. Completing at a terrible 55% (18/33) with only eight sets complete in the first half St George Illawarra were going to struggle to leave with the two points. They were not aided by some rulings by officials but when 11 of the 16 players that take the field make an error it’s probably not going to be your day. The third win of the season for Newcastle comes at an interesting time for the Knights who will see their ownership fate decided by a vote of the 90,000 members of the local licensed club Wests Group.

 

Image via nrl.com

 

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