With the 2 best sides in the competition ready to do battle for the NRL Premiership on Sunday evening, looking at both sides, 2 things stand out; the quality of each side’s halves and their outside backs. I’d go so far as to say the two sides possess the best outside backs in the entire competition, and that has been a huge reason for their success.
Obviously there are many battles across the field, but within the top 8, there isn’t a whole lot between the quality of the forward packs. Souths and the Sharks arguably have the best packs in the game, yet neither is featuring in the main event on Sunday night.
In the Souths vs. Eagles game, it was the ability of Jamie Lyon and Steve Matai to create chances out wide that was the difference between the two sides. Once the battle in the middle evened out after the Bunnies shot out to an early lead, it was the quality of the outside backs that broke the game wide open for the Manly side.
The signing of Michael Jennings has proven to be an absolute master class, and the emergence of Daniel Tupou and Dally M winger of the year Roger Tuivasa-Sheck have given the Roosters an almost unmatched avenue of attack. Dally M winger of the year Jamie Lyon’s combination with David Williams has again been a huge go to for the Eagles, with Williams again topping the try scoring charts. (equal top with Simmons and James McManus)
Taking a look at the outside backs of the top few sides (ratings out of 10):
Roosters: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (8), Michael Jennings (9), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (8), Daniel Tupou (8) – 33
Manly: David Williams (8), Jamie Lyon (9), Steve Matai (8), Jorge Taufua (8) – 33
South Sydney: Nathan Merritt (7), Bryson Goodwin (6), Dylan Walker (7), Dylan Farrell (7) – 27
Newcastle: Naiquma (6), Leilua (7), Gagai (7), Uate (8) – 28
Melbourne: Sisa Waqa (7), Will Chambers (7), Maurice Blair (7), Justin O’Neill (7) – 28
Cronulla: Beau Ryan (7), Ben Pomeroy (6), Jonathan Wright (6), Sasaia Feki (6) – 25
The difference between the Cronulla’s, and Newcastles of the competition and the top sides are the quality of the outside backs.
Obviously you need good forwards to set the platform and the halves to supply the right opportunities for the outside backs but in my opinion the quality of forward packs and halves is evening out across the top sides and the outside backs are becoming a much more important part of the game. The two sides on Sunday night have the best 2-5 in the competition, and it will be a battle for the ages.
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