FIVE METRE GAP: Round 19

Hamish NealLike the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from round 19.

Manly ran riot, scoring eight tries in a 38-20 win over Gold Coast on Sunday but Queensland squad halfback Daly Cherry- Evans wasn’t a feature in the try scoring or try-assist statistics. Now that former Blues fullback Brett Stewart has returned, Manly has an extra bow in attack. In addition to his own try, Stewart had three try assists on the weekend and Kieran Foran had two. The extra threat of Stewart chiming in from fullback could cause opponents problems in the run up to the finals.

Raiders rookie Sami Sauiluma was dynamic in the cold as the Raiders toppled the Eels 14-0 on Saturday. The 22-year-old winger broke nine tackles in running for 147 metres from his 12 runs. With plenty of attention on Anthony Milford, who has been playing in a utility role, local junior Sauiluma has stepped up in the absence of fellow flyer Edrick Lee.

The return to the NRL of Craig Gower has created plenty of attention, not least about how he is used off the bench for the Knights. However it was Chris Houston with the impressive numbers for Newcastle in their 32-14 win over Penrith for those not starting the match. The NSW south-coast junior played 58 minutes for Wayne Bennett’s side and registered 32 tackles for 17 runs. The Knights also got solid work from Neville Costigan and the returning David Fa’alogo as the other big men on the bench.

Elsewhere in work-horse land, coming off the disappointment of the Origin loss NSW forward Trent Merrin started off the bench for the Dragons as the joint-venture side upset Souths in golden point. Waiting all weekend for the match didn’t seem to dull Merrin’s enthusiasm when injected. Playing 67 minutes the 23-year-old Shellharbour junior made 37 tackles and ran for 173 metres from his 20 runs.

Nex year’s Eel, Nathan Peats, gave a glimpse of what he will offer Parramatta fans when South Sydney thrashed Ricky Stuart’s men 30-10 in round 15. Granted a release from Souths during the week, Peats was playing in a slightly different role just over month ago on the edge to his normal hooking role but the versatile City Origin rep still produced 32 tackles along with 10 runs and two tackle breaks. Peats is sparingly used in games (in recent matches he has clocked as little as three minutes) but the blue and gold faithful will be heartened by the analysis of what the 22 year-old can do as an eighty-minute player.

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