FIVE METRE GAP: Round 20

Hamish NealLike the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from round 20.

Penrith-bound Elijah Taylor is learning plenty from a new team-mate with the Warriors forward crediting Storm premiership player Todd Lowrie with his increased input on attack. Known primarily for his defensive work, 23-year-old Taylor told Kiwi broadcaster D’Arcy Waldegrave on Radio Sport this week he was “getting as much information out of him (Lowrie) that I can before I leave.” The attention to detail of the future Panther is paying dividends with Taylor now an off-load threat to go with his work-rate which has consisted of the following tackles/runs breakdowns in the last three matches (30/10, 44/11, 43/10.)

When at their best, Cronulla are excellent in making ground up the middle but even without Paul Gallen, they had some great examples of that in the win against Penrith. In the lead-up to the first try, Ben Pomeroy took the first tackles and was able affect a quick play-of-the-ball. That allowed John Morris a fast burst out of dummy half, which laid the platform for an Andrew Fifita hit-up, giving the Sharks great field position after three tackles. That, in turn, also allowedthe side’s halves Todd Carney and Jeff Robson to focus on the ‘red zone’ attacking options which resulted in fullback Michael Gordon’s try.

Tongan international Sam Moa is proving one of the buys of the season and should Trent Robinson have second thoughts about his starting 13, Roosters fans could see more of him in the coming fortnight due to the enforced absence of Sonny Bill Williams. In cricketing terms Moa’s strike-rate off the bench has been a useful tool for the tricolours. In 34 minutes on the weekend in Newcastle he made 21 tackles and had ten hit-ups. In the previous week, also off the bench, he ran for 146 metres against the Sharks,

What seems to have been lost in the Mitchell Allgood-Steve Matai drama, which will see Act Two in round 21, is the improvement in the Eels forward. Allgood, 24, in his return from suspension, made 100 metres in his 15 runs as a bench replacement in the 40-12 loss to the Bulldogs. Added to this recent efforts which have included 12 runs, Allgood has been reliable off the bench for a wavering Eels pack, often nearing on 20 tackles in about 45-50 minutes of action each week.

The euphoria of Maroons’ Origin triumph has given way to the northern wasteland of the NRL, highlighted in recent weeks by the Cowboy. However, Five Metre Gap has honed in on a recurring problem for the Titans after their 32-4 lose to the ladder-leading Rabbitohs. Midfield general Albert Kelly is again going missing in defence, have missed some of his defensive bodyguards in recent weeks due to Origin duties and injuries, the 22-year-old is lacking confidence and missed six tackles on the weekend of his 24 attempts.

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