FIVE METRE GAP: Round 25

Hamish NealLike the way of the five metre gap in defence, reviewing the points from the NRL you may have missed from round 25

It happened again, maybe not to the same extent as previous weeks, but Manly lost the penalty count (9-7) on the weekend at Brookvale. After a 5 5 half-time count in the 28-8 triumph, it ran 4-2 against the home side in the second stanza.  One of the competition’s most in-form sides is joining the Roosters in the naughty corner more often than not.

The value of 2010 Dally M Medal winner Todd Carney to Cronulla was exemplified when the Cowboys defeated the Sharks 31-18. With only three runs for a miserly 28 metres, Wade Graham wasn’t effective as a second attacking weapon, leaving the home side to rely on Jeff Robson. Halfback Robson scored two tries and laid on Jayson Bukuya’s double but was absent elsewhere and Graham wasn’t the alternative spark the Sharks needed with Chad Townsend possibly a better option in hindsight.

As the Raiders were having nightmares out wide thanks to Manu Vatuvei’s electric performance on Saturday afternoon at Mount Smart Stadium their centre defence was also having a horrible day. Five-eighth Terry Campese missed five tackles as Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson ran rampant across the park. Now, Johnson missed six of his own tackles but when you are scoring three of your own tries and laying on others the ratio looks okay compared to Campese’s.

In recent weeks Five Metre Gap has picked on a few positives for some of the sides out of playoff contention which might give their fans hope for 2013 and this week it’s worth a look at the Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco. One of the few constants for the Tigers in season 2013, Tedesco, 20, has figured in 18 games as part of an injury-ravaged backline. (Only Benji Marshall with 21 games has played more), Running for 321 in the last two wins for the join-venture franchise Tedesco has created plenty for his fellow backs to work with and has been equally adept at finishing moves.

Whilst there was conjecture on the weekend about where Melbourne Storm’s English international Gareth Widdop was playing, if at all, one thing is certain. His former team Altona will be taking part on the 2013 Victorian Rugby League decider. The Roosters beat the Waverley Panthers 32-16 on Saturday and will meet defending premiers Sunbury Tigers in the grand final.

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