There are many things to note about last night’s match. Here are the five most interesting to me:
The first is an off-the-ball incident, but forces its way into the Top 5 with a bullet … Tom Waterhouse has been much maligned for his performances on Channel 9 so far this NRL season. However, he made went some way to rectifying it last night with comedy gold. His gaffe when reporting the odds for City/Country is up there with the best, and as the poster in the office kitchen says, a good belly-laugh is worth 10 minutes on the rowing machine! Thank you Tom, I did an hour on the not-rowing machine.
Poor Penetration, Completions and Errors
The attacking thrust of the Kiwis was poor in the first half hour in particular, and their defence didn’t make up for it, sowing the seeds of what was to come. The Aussies had far more penetration, carrying the ball over 9-metres per run to the Kiwis’ 7-metres in that time. It was quite evident to see on the vision. This chewed up energy over the course of the game as they were forced to clock more miles, up and back, up and back …
Now, provided a team can stay close or ahead on the scoreboard and fortune falls their way, they can overcome it. The Warriors almost did it to the Raiders with far less favourable stats last week, though they led for most of that match. But the moment the opposition receives favourable rulings or is able to pull away, that tiredness can result in quick points.
While this ‘ball-carry’ gap narrowed slightly for the next 20-25 minutes, it ended the match at 1.7-metres. Further, at 7.6-metres per run, it is well below the lowest in the NRL (Bulldogs at 8-metres average). It seems irrelevant, but it’s not, and 4 Tries in less than 10 minutes was the result.
A completion rate that would also be the lowest in the NRL, and an error count 50% higher than the NRL average are not the ways to overcome poor attacking thrust.
The right and wrong side of the referee
Speaking of good fortune, the Kiwis really didn’t have the rub of the green either, and couldn’t make up for the absence of some of their big names who will make them a very different proposition in the World Cup.
For example, Hodges’ knock-on on the try line led to a bizarre penalty to the Aussies, the Inglis try could just as easily have been ruled obstruction, and a dropped bomb by Perrett, which went backwards, saw the ball turned over to the Aussies in a great attacking position. Points and pressure were not going their way.
Look out NSW!
Justin Hodges try near the end was a classic – CLASSIC – Queensland try. It was pure hunger to get the ball, and nothing was left to chance in the effort to score. With State of Origin around the corner, NSW have immediately been put on notice.
What’s going on with Gallen? He continues to run like a steam train and defend like a brick wall. But now he’s popping balls here, he’s popping them there. Putting team mates through gaps like a a sneaky halfback has never been his strong suit, but he looks to have added this to his game. Was he channelling Gavin Miller or something? Surely he can’t be getting better?