FIVE METRE GAP: Round 12 and Origin I

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 twelve plus game one out of State of Origin..

While much of the talk about the Warriors’ 56-18 thrashing of Brisbane on Monday night was about the Russell Packer ‘relief moment’ it distracted from a horror night for Brisbane stand-in halfback Ben Hunt. The 23-year-old was a speed-bump in defence missing 11 tackles from his 28 attempts. One wonders if Hunt is relieved to be on the bench against in Canberra in round 13.

Elsewhere in Queensland, the Gold Coast Titans use of a new hooker rotation seems to be paying dividends for John Cartwright’s side. In recent years the boys from the sunshine strip relied on solely 80-minute hookers in the form of Matt Srama and before him now-Warriors hooker Nathan Friend. Srama and 20-year-old Territorian Sam Irwin have shared the load in the Titans’ last two wins, in their last  playing 56 and 24 minutes respectively. The move has allowed Srama to show his ability in attack compared to when he first came in to replace Friend when he would often tire in attack due to his defensive output.

Goal-kicking has been crucial in recent weeks with our noted trend of two games per week in five of the last seven weeks having been decided by four points or less. To that end despite the Newcastle Knights’ seven-point lose to South Sydney on Saturday evening, Josh Mantellato’s three-out-of-three debut is handy for coach Wayne Bennett. Having used three kickers this season, it’s good for Bennett to know his third-string option is so accurate with the boot given the Italian representative’s prolific record in the NSW Cup. The only drawback for the 26-year-old rookie is the number of outside backs in front of him at the Turton Road club when they are all fit.

After a rocky start to their season, the attacking threat of the Canterbury Bulldogs right side was on show again on Friday evening against St George Illawarra with centre Tim Lafai (two) and winger Sam Perrett (one) accounting for all their side’s tries in a two-point win against the Dragon. Lafai and Perrett each broke four tackles as they tormented the Dragons’ left-side defence.

Out of the State of Origin game one win to the Blues, it’s significant to note the effort of NSW hooker Robbie Farah who will now miss up to three weeks with injury. After the 29-year-old’s colossal effort of 63 tackles in game two last year he racked up another herculean performance with 53, three behind the night’s top tackler Cameron Smith. Not a bad effort for the bloke who this time a year ago was arguably the third-choice hooker in the state.

 

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