Six Again: NRL Round 5 Home advantage a myth, Broncos halves must change

Newcastle Knights players on the way to losing at home for the third time out of four attempts in 2019. Ashley Feder/Getty Images

First tackle: Home ground is no real advantage

An early look at the 2019 draw would have had fans wondering why the Knights and Cowboys were receiving the benefit of more home games than the other teams. The Knights and Cowboys were drawn to play four of their first five games at home, offering both clubs a great chance at successful starts to the season. Traditionally both teams play their best football at home in front of their fervent and numerous fans, but they have defied the home ground advantage to collect only one win each from their four.

After five rounds, there have been 40 games played and 19 of them have been lost by the home team. The nearly 50 percent loss rate at home would suggest that home ground advantage has become a myth. It seems the team that is best prepared and ready to fire on the day will win no matter where they are playing.

Second Tackle: Broncos half bad

The Broncos are in serious trouble and one of their best-paid players has to be dropped if they are to see any improvement. Five-eighth Anthony Milford was simply awful late in the second half against the Tigers at Suncorp Stadium.

Milford threw several horror passes and was caught in possession on the last tackle as he failed to set up for a field goal with time running low. He even had a shirt grab at Michael Chee-Kam as he started his brilliant weaving run, and was hanging off him as he crashed over to score the match-winning try in the final minute.

Milford wasn't on his own in having another poor game, with Jack Bird and Darius Boyd having their moments as well. The halves combination of Milford and Kodi Nikorima just isn't producing the football that the Broncos need. Anthony Seibold's patience must surely have worn thin.

Third tackle: Baloney from Maloney

You hear some nonsensical arguments from players trying to convince referees that they should change their decisions, but the one from James Maloney on Friday night takes the cake.

With 15 minutes remaining in the clash between the Panthers and the Titans, Gold Coast forward Bryce Cartwright was dragged down from behind by Tyrell Fuimaono as he pursued a kick into the in-goal area. There were no other players around as Cartwright struggled out of the tackle and almost grounded the ball anyway. Maloney tried to argue that the referees could not be certain that Cartwright would have scored, because he ultimately did get to the ball and failed to correctly ground it.

Maloney seemed to overlook the fact that had he not been tackled, Cartwright could have taken his time to fall on the ball. He also overlooked the fact that the referees only have to believe that the try would have been scored if not for the illegality. Not surprisingly, the referee did not change the decision and the Panthers went on to lose to the lowly Titans.

Fourth tackle: Bulldogs burnt by Dragons' fire

The Bulldogs were knocked down from the heights of the past two weeks as the Dragons handed them a thumping at Kogarah Oval. The Dragons came out, led by halfback Ben Hunt, and simply monstered the Bulldogs with a defensive line that raced up as a white wall and cut down any time the visitors needed to compete.

Laconic five-eighth Lachlan Lewis was rushed, crunched and constantly harassed. His kicking, his passing and his organisational skills were all put to the ultimate test and frankly failed under the intense heat. Boom Bulldogs winger Jayden Okunbor was smashed by white jerseys every time he tried to make an impact with the ball. There were no tearaway runs this week.

It was a telling performance from the Dragons, one that gave a true indication of the gulf between the leading teams and Dean Pay's painfully inexperienced Bulldogs.

Fifth and last: Class wins over youth... for now

Cronulla's Bronson Xerri, playing only his second NRL game ever, found himself marking Roosters, New South Wales and Australian centre Latrell Mitchell at Shark Park on Saturday night. It was a game he won't soon forget as the promising centre was schooled by Mitchell for most of the night.

The 18 year-old Xerri shows a lot of promise, but it was clear that the 21 year-old Mitchell has him covered, at least at this stage of his career. It was a great battle between two players who may one day run out for the same representative teams, and a formidable centre pairing they would be.

The battle between the two had many highlights including the textbook ankle tackle in the 30th minute by Xerri on Mitchell before he could fully wind up. Then just seconds before the break, Luke Keary kick passed to Mitchell from first receiver inside the Roosters' half. Mitchell caught the ball on the fly to race away and put the Roosters up 12-0 at halftime.

Three minutes into the second half, Mitchell charged onto the ball on an angle inside the Sharks' red zone. He spun in the tackle and handed the ball off to James Tedesco for the try. With six minutes to go and the result well and truly decided in the Roosters favour, Xerri tried his own angled charge at the Roosters line, only to drop the ball.

It will be interesting to watch Xerri's development over the next few years. He looks like he could end up being a dangerous attacking weapon for the Sharks. He'll need to take the lessons from Saturday night and add them to that immeasurably valuable commodity called experience.

Handover: Cook the master in Rabbitohs' kitchen

Cody Walker was the hero for the Rabbitohs in their miracle come back victory over the Warriors, scoring four tries. The thing that really stood out from this performance was the major part Damien Cook played in those tries.

Cook was at his darting, scheming best against the Warriors, his passing game was sharp and precise. The defence had no answer as he continually chose the perfect time to run, carving them up on his way to running 172 metres. To prove his all-round ability he also topped the Rabbitohs tackle count with 41.