The GF Head to Head – the Halves

01/10/2013

The GF Head to Head – the Halves

by Smithy

Maloney and Pearce versus Foran and Cherry-Evans – four great individual competitors but which has the better combination

There is not much more I can say about these guys except perhaps the here and now stuff!

Like right here and right now (or Sunday) these two pairings are the best in the NRL. They have performed better than any other more times than any other combos.

Ok, I know they have also played behind probably the best two forward packs as well but they have still done it.

In recent matches Pearce has improved his support play from good to GREAT. This was his trademark early in his career and he found it again at a top time for his team.

Maloney too can create breaks through his clever support on big players in his own half. That break he made off a Hargreaves pre-liner earlier this season was a gem; haven’t seen much of it lately, come to think of it (but loved the combos around Dylan Napa and SBW).

Comparing that to the Manly guys and I reckon it’s pretty even. Both Eagles halves are even willing to push on dead runs just to be there for the “jackpot” pass.

If I were to do a comparison on every area I think that in most aspects it would be pretty much the same. Not much between them.

Here’s where I see the differences:

1)      in kicking the Roosters have an advantage in that both Pearce and Maloney are confident and competent making a better team balance against kick pressure at both ends of the field. Foran has improved but isn’t as good as the other three.

2)     still on kicking, Manly’s ability to find creative, on the spot decisions especially near the try line is superior. This is almost all due to DCE’s talent and confidence in this all important area. Combine that with super support and an eye for a try from Brett Stewart and its double deadly advantage.

3)      in D Manly is clearly advantaged. Maloney is a real worry for the Roosters as Glen Stewart and associates are likely to pizzle him with big plays in yardage and good ball. When I watched the replays Maloney was worse in D than I thought in last week’s match and also in the 4 nil playoff match versus Eagles. Pearce and DCE are very even in this apect. Foran is a MONSTER.

4)      in the clutch of tough games and tight scoreboards in attack I would fancy:

  • DCE to play hard and back himself generally in what he do himself and a little in what he might come up with and for his team mates.
  • Foran would also have a crack but it be almost certainly doing it on his own (although he has shown signs of doing more stuff in combos this season as yet not in the pressured tight situations)
  • Pearce doesn’t have the same technical skills to do the damage himself. He will try but not quite as effective as others at this level. He now has more confidence to go to one of his BIG COMBOS – the edge second row contingent of Williams, Guerra, Cordner, Aubusson. If he returns to playing long instead of short he is the most likely to throw an intercept.
  • Maloney, with the least of physical credentials has uncanny attack ability in breaking tackles and especially close to try line. He can think out a special play with kick or pass but will also need to very careful of Lyon and Williams intercepting anything pressured and long.

These four guys have tremendous responsibilities to their teams. I have seen less and less of both of them sharing it and combining in attack under pressure recently.

Perhaps the two who find the best combos which each other can turn that scoreboard in their favour when they need it most on Sunday.