Taumalolo’s second-half surge for Cowboys

North Queensland powerhouse Jason Taumalolo does most of his damage in the second half of NRL games, Cronulla forward Paul Gallen has identified.

Taumalolo looms as a key figure when the Cowboys meet Melbourne in Sunday’s NRL grand final after yet another barnstorming season carrying the ball.

No other player came close to Taumalolo’s 196 metres per game this year.

However, Gallen reckons the Kiwi international has deliberately channelled his energy into his second stint in an attempt to carry the Cowboys home in close games.

And statistics prove Gallen’s observations are right — particularly over the past month.

Taumalolo has upped his average to 234 metres in the finals, with over half of them coming after halftime. He has hit triple figures in the last five second halves he has played.

They are staggering numbers that Gallen believes makes him a top-five player in the NRL.

“Playing in the same position, I watch him closely and there’s been games where you check his metre rate out at the 60-minute mark,” Gallen said on Sky Sports Radio on Tuesday.

“Sometimes it’s below 100 metres (and) come the end of the game, he punches out 200.

“I’m not sure if it’s a conscious thing where he waits for the opposition to get that little bit tired and then he clicks into gear. That might be one thing that he looks at doing.

“It’s his second stint in the game that he’s just so damaging.

“Maybe he does wait for the opposition to get tired, he backs himself with that fitness at the back end of the game.

“He does a good job of it, we can’t deny that.”

Gallen famously led the Sharks to their maiden premiership last year but were denied a shot at back-to-back titles by the Cowboys in an extra-time elimination final three weeks ago.

In that game, Taumalolo made just 84 of his 234 metres before halftime.

“Bar his second stint against us in the semi-final, we’ve actually handled him really well. He’s never really damaged us too much,” Gallen said.

“Even that semi-final, it wasn’t (until) that last 15 minutes where he just tore us apart.

“We’ve always attacked him from marker and been into his legs because he doesn’t like it.

“That’s his powerbase, they’re like tree trunks. They just pump away like pistons.

“You just gotta get hold of them and stop them.”

TAUMALOLO’S PAST FIVE NRL GAMES (metres)

Rd 25 v Wests Tigers: First half – 79, second half – 105

Rd 26 v Broncos: First half – 79, second half – 145

Finals Wk 1 v Sharks: First half – 84, second half – 105, extra time – 45

Finals Wk 2 v Eels: First half – 112, second half – 118

Finals Wk 3 v Roosters: First half – 124, second half – 115

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