FIVE METRE GAP: Round 10

Hamish NealBy HAMISH NEAL

Like the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from round ten.

It has been interesting to see the mid-season implementation of changes regarding time limits on scrums and goal-line drop-outs. But the decision is quite puzzling given the fatigue factor which has been spoken about among players, including Sharks winger Beau Ryan on Wednesday morning on Sky Sports Radio. Reducing the time to take conversion attempts would make it easier on the other 25 players, who don’t have to rush to their next spot on the field compared to a scrum and it’s an obvious area in which time can be made up. If a team is chasing the game, watch how quickly a conversion, currently allotted up to one minute and 40 seconds to complete, can be taken. Surely that is a better option if officials are going to ‘tinker with the clock’ mid-season. From a television point of view, inserting an ad into live coverage is easier when negotiating a probable one minute break compared to a 30 second break, which could miss some live action.

Manly hooker Matt Ballin got plenty of plaudits for his 69 tackles in the 90 minute blockbuster between the Sea Eagles and Storm. However Monday night’s 10 10 draw in Melbourne also saw a sterling defensive effort from one-time NSW bench utility Jamie Buhrer, who was working at a near tackle-per-minute with 25 tackles in his 27 minutes on the field.

Despite two blow-out scores in round 10, the round did continue the trend of recent weeks with at least two matches being decided by four points or less. Since round five only once, during round seven, has this not been the case. On that occasion the closest margin that weekend saw South Sydney beat Manly 20-12.

Willie Mason’s verbal stoush during the Knights 44-8 triumph over the Bulldogs on Sunday seems to have been some-what overplayed in some sections of the media. A fortnight earlier Mason unleashed a similar tirade when attempting to bait Cronulla Sharks players during the Knights’ eventual golden point loss. Mason was clearly upset on Sunday but on radio volume dial it was only two clicks down from what this correspondent noticed two weeks earlier.

An update on Parramatta rookie centre Api Pewhairangi, who we mentioned last week. The Dragons vanquished the Eels 32-12 and Pewhairangi was again working hard on the edge of the Eels’ defence. The New Zealand-born centre racked up 24 tackles to go with the 30 made against Brisbane the week prior. Not sure of another centre who has done so much defensive work in the past fortnight.

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