Willow's match report and player review

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Willow's match report and player review

Post by willow » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 7:32 pm

Round 2 of the NRL saw the Wests Tigers back at the SFS for the second time in as many weeks to take on the new and improved Sydney Roosters team. Both sides were coming off impressive round 1 wins. The Roosters were coming off a comprehensive win over Souths while the Tigers were coming off an impressive come from behind, albeit scrappy win against Manly. Conditions for teams would play a factor today, as the temperature hovered above 30 degrees with high humidity. The Tigers preparation was disrupted with the withdrawals of prop Bryce Gibbs and backrower Liam Fulton, both of whom played strongly against Manly last week. This resulted in the Tigers blooding rising young prop Andrew Fifita and hard working backrower Jason Schirnack.

Just who would prove victorious today...

1st half:

The opening exchanges of the game was all Wests Tigers, as they enjoyed early possession and good field position with the forwards laying a good platform through Galloway, Moors, Heighington and Ellis. After 10 minutes the Tigers were frst to strike through Benji Marshall who followed up a strong run from Rob Lui the play before. Marshall was able to squeeze his way over under the posts to open up a handy 6-0 lead. 3 minutes later the Tigers were at it again as the Roosters attack was turned on its head by the Tigers counter-attack. Mark Flanagan did well in this passage of play as he broke clear of the Roosters after a grubber kick was fielded by the Tigers before Flanagan set off downfield. Flanagan then offloaded to Lote Tuqiri who then brought the crowd alinve by racing 70 metres downfield to score an excellent try. Marshall again converted and the Tigers led 12-0. It wasn't all good news for the Tigers as halfback Rob Lui was injured with what appeared to be a knee injury. Lui battled on bravely however.

Just like last week though, the Tigers fell into a hole after the 20 minute mark as the Roosters started to work their way back into the match on the back of some good kicking and typical Tigers mistakes. The Roosters hit back in good fashion in the 24th minute as a Tigers intercept went awry and straight back to the Roosters as Mitchell Pearce went through a yawning gap before offloading to Mitchell Aubusson to score out wide. Todd Carney's conversion missed and the Tigers now led 12-4.

The Roosters ran in a further 2 tries through backrower Aiden Guerra and centre Phil Graham who bagged a double and exposed a brittle Wests Tigers right edge defence, with Blake Ayshford and the injured Rob Lui struggling to contain the Roosters left edge attack. Carney made to mistake with the conversions to give the Roosters a 20-12 lead as the Tigers were visibly wiltering in the heat through lack of possession. The Tigers had one last chance to score right on halftime as Benji Marshall did well to keep the ball alive and was able to link up with Robbie Farah and Blake Ayshford. Ayshford drew in the defence before offloading to Fitzyhenry on the wing, however Fitzhenry did not have the pace to cross the line as the gap closed. A tired Tigers outfit went to the sheds trailing 20-12 and with a lot of work to do.

2nd half:

If the Tigers were going to get back into the game, they needed to be first to score. Unfortunately they weren't, as the Roosters continued to pile on the misery with a try to Guerra in the 47th minute as he crossed for his second of the afternoon in beating Keith Galloway and proving too strong for Tim Moltzen on the line. Carney added the extras and it was now 26-12. Four minutes later the Roosters were at it again, this time through Mitchell Pearce as he backed up a good break made by Aubusson which left Robbie Farah on the ground and Chris Heighington struggling to chase. Again Carney added the extras and the scoreline was looking ugly at 32-12 to the Roosters.

In the 58th minute the Roosters effectively ended the Tigers hopes with a try in the left corner again exposing the Tigers right edge defence through Anthony Minichello. Todd Carney continued his excellent goalkicking to make the score 38-12. The Tigers finally troubled the scoreboard in the 62nd minute through centre Blake Ayshford after he as previously held up over the line moments before. Marshall's conversion hit the uprights to leave the Tigers trailing 38-16. The Roosters put the game to rest in the 66th minute as Mitchell Pearce grabbed his second try after prop Lopini Paea brushed off a couple of very lazy and ordinary shirt grabs by Robbie Farah and Jason Cayless. Carney added the extras and it was 44-16.

The Tigers wouldn't die wondering though as they chanced their arm as Benji Marshall who looked the Tigers most threatening all day, threw a nice flat pass for debutant Jason Schirnack to cross untouched to score near the posts. Replays suggested the pass was forward however the referee was in good position and let it go. Benji converted the try and the score was 44-22 with 11 minutes remaining. Marshall was at it again when he scored son after as he threw a nice short pass to Chris Heighington who turned it inside to Tim Moltzen who had daylight in front of him. Moltzen drew Carney in before offloading to Marshall to scored his second try of the day. Benji missed the somewhat simple kick to leave the Tigers trailing 44-26.

With 2 minutes remaining, powerhouse prop Andrew Fifita scored on debut as he beat 3 defenders to crash over near the posts. It was a good try from the young prop who had a solid debut in the top grade. Benji added the extras as the Roosters ran out convincing 44-32 winners.

Onto the players...

1. Tim Moltzen - Played the first half at fullback and ran the ball with more purpose today, with less sideways running. Came up with one bad fumble on the Tigers goal line which led to the Roosters scoring. Reverted to halfaback in the second half as Lui limped off the field and looked more at home attacking up in the line. Has a good combo with Farah and Marshall and knows how to hit a hole as he found space a couple of times. Not a bad game but capable of better. 78 metres in attack, 1 error, 2 linebreaks.

2. Lote Tuqiri - For the second week in a row Tuqiri crossed the tryline, this time with a 70 metre effort and continues to impress as he makes the transition from Union back to League. Came up with 1 error playing the ball but otherwise ran hard and looks to be the safest option under the high ball. Wasn't targeted in defence either. Solid game from Lote and still has improvement left in him. 177 metres in attack, 1 try.

3. Blake Ayshford - I like the way he runs the ball, he's deceptively quick and strong and takes some putting down, however today he was found wanting in defence as Phil Graham got the better of him and I'm sure Blake won't be happy with this, as we have all seen him defend better, and he knows he can defend better. 69 metres in attack, 1 try, 11 tackles but the 4 missed tackles is what hurt Blake and the Tigers today.

4. Chris Lawrence - Kept in check by the Roosters today and didn't see any open space as he was well marked by Kenny-Dowall. Defensively Lawrence was strong but the Tigers left edge attack never really got going today. Lawrence was solid, but couldn't find the space he so desperately needed. 70 metres in attack, 1 error, 2 offloads, 11 tackles and 2 missed tackles.

17. Daniel Fitzhenry - Not a bad game from Fitzy I must say. Lacks a yard of pace in my opinion but he got involved and went looking for the ball in the first half, and was safe at fullback in the second half, defusing a screamer of a bomb in the second half. Safe and solid but I assume Beau Ryan will reclaim his wing spot for next week. 97 metres in attack for Fitzy.

6. Benji Marshall - The Tigers most threatening player all afternoon. Benji scored a double and looked to do something each time he touched the ball. Came up with a couple of errors from probably trying a bit too much, but again, he was the Tigers most dangerous on the field today. Goalkicking was ok, but he did miss a relatively easy shot in the second half. Not really troubled in defence. 66 metres in attack, 2 tries, 4/6 with the boot, 2 offloads, 1 linebreak, 1 linebreak assist and 7 tackles.

7. Rob Lui - Missing in action today after 13 minutes when he suffered a knee injury which never came good. It was a pity because I felt Lui looked good with a couple of early touches. He was replaced in the second half and will be in serious doubt for next week.

15. Junior Moors - Went better with the ball in hand today but his defence was found wanting as he missed 5 tackles. Racked up 17 tackles and 69 metres in attack, and while I can see improvement in him, I hope it comes sooner rather than later.

9. Robbie Farah - Unusally poor today. Farah failed to find the line from a penalty and defensively, while he made 30 tackes, he missed 4 including 2 which led to Roosters tries. In attack he was never really able to get going as the Tigers did not win the battle of the ruck and quick play-the-balls were few and far between. He'll be filthy with himself and I expect we'll see a big improvement against the Eels. 56 metres in attack, 30 tackles, 4 missed tackles, 1 linebreak assist, 1 error.

16. Mark Flanagan - Started in place of Liam Fulton who withdrew on match day with illness. Flanagan's second NRL was much improved from last week. Busy in defence and showed some good passing skills with a nice short passing game. I'd make way for Fulton next week but Flanagan certainly went ok today and looks a likely backrower in the making. 87 metres in attack, 24 tackles, 2 missed tackles, 1 linebreak and 1 offload.

10. Keith Galloway - The only Tiger forward to make over 100 metres in attack today, which said a lot as the Tigers were outplayed and out-enthused by the Roosters pack. Galloway was stronger today compared to last week although he was brushed aside by Guerra in his second try. Strong effort overall though. 117 metres in attack, 20 tackles, 4 offloads and 1 missed tackle.

12. Gareth Ellis - Pretty quiet today and I think he may have picked up an injury. Did some hard yards in the first half and was switched to the Tigers left edge in defence. Normally an 80 minute player, Gareth was replaced by Schirnack in the second half. Hope he's not injured because the Tigers will need him against the Eels. 53 metres in attack, 19 tackles.

13. Chris Heighington - Not a bad game from Heighno as he was tireless in defence and topped the tackle count. This took a bit of petrol out of his tank and his attack was down as a result, although he still ran hard, the usual high workrate in attack was not there today. Dropped one sitter of a pass in the first half and gave away 1 penalty in the second half but otherwise solid. 82 metres in attack, 36 tackles with 2 missed.

14. Jason Cayless - Still trying to work his way back into the grind of NRL football. Looked to move a bit better today but his workrate still needs to improve. He was more effective in attack however didn't get enough ball. In conjunction with Farah he came up with a very poor miss on Paea. 48 metres in attack, 10 tackles with 1 bad miss.

18. Geoff Daniela - Saw some action in the second half although had no real opportunity with the ball in hand. Quick and light on his feet although defensively he still comes up with some poor reads and poor attempts. He was caught out in the Minichello try in the second half and at present, I can only find a place for him in first grade should the Tigers first strike wingers go down with injury. 41 metres in attack.

19. Jason Schirnack - Made his first grade debut today and went ok considering the Tigers were way behind on the scoreboard when he finally came on. Not the biggest backrower although he is bigger than last year. He's a determined young fellow though and keeps his legs pumping when he hits the line. Scored a try off a nice flat ball from Marshall and his only blemish was fielding a difficult pass from Benji as he regathered a chip kick. Likely to drop back to State Cup next week with Fulton and Payten due to return but Schirnack held his own today in a decent debut.

20. Andrew Fafita - The other Tigers debutant didn't disappoint today as he showed why he earnt a call up to first grade with some strong running and nice footwork. Scored a try on debut which showed off his strength close to the line and made 12 tackles and 65 metres in attack. Personally I think he showed more than enough to retain his place on the bench for next week.


Overall Analysis:

Attack:

Again the Tigers scored some enterprising tries today, highlighted by Lote Tuqiri's 70 metre effort in the first half. The problems today resulted with the forward pack failing to get on top of the Roosters. Keith Galloway was the only forward to make more than 100 metres in attack, with Chris Heighington and Mark Flanagan trying hard. Junior Moors and Jason Cayless are still working hard on getting back into the grind of NRL football and Gareth Ellis was unusually quiet in attack and could quite possibly be injured. Andrew Fafita had good impact off the bench and looks a likely prospect. Captain Robbie Farah was quiet in attack and had one of his more average games for sometime today.

In the backs, Benji Marshall was the Tigers lone saviour as he looked dangerous each time he touched the ball and continued his strong start to the year. Lote Tuqiri has also settled in well and for the second week in a row was the leading Tigers metre-eater with 177 metres to his name incuding a long-range try. Tim Moltzen played more direct in attack today and looked better for it. He gives the Tigers a more threatening look to their right edge attack although apparently coach Tim Sheens has said he would rather Moltzen play the role of ball runner rather than ball player.

Chris Lawrence and Blake Ayshford were kept quiet, as were Fitzhenry and Daniela.


Defence:

Once again the Tigers goal line defence was found wanting, particularly the right edge where Ayshford had a shocker resulting in 2 Roosters tries. The usually busy and reliable Robbie Farah also had an off day in defence and was beaten a couple of times which also led to Roosters tries. Chris Heighington and Mark Flanagan were busy all day in defence but overall the Tigers defended poorly whenever they were placed under pressure by the Roosters.

And that is really the key at the moment. When the Tigers make mistakes and are forced to defend for back-to-back sets, or on their own line, they are showing very little backbone and mental toughness, and this was highlighted as key for the Tigers to achieve this year. Right now it's only early days and the start to this season is not dissimilar to last season for the Tigers, but they clearly missed the defence of Fulton and Gibbs today and they will need to pick up their defensive game if they are to trouble the Eels next week.


Kicking game:

Poor today. With Lui injured, Farah and Marshall failed to assert any control of the Tigers long kicking game and the team was really shown up by the kicking game of Anasta, Carney and Pearce, who regularly troubled the Tigers.


Overall stats (Roosters in brackets):

All run metres: 1212 (1149)
Tackles made: 222 (209)
1 on 1 effective tackles: 18 (24)
Missed tackles: 32 (27)
Try Assists: 4 (7)
Linebreaks: 5 (7)
Offloads 13 (12)
Penalties: 4 (5)
Possession: 48% (52%)
Errors: 12 (9)
Completions: 22 (29)


So that pretty much sums it up folks. The Tigers have no trouble scoring points, although alarmingly they are only playing for 40 minutes at the moment, coming up with dropped ball and penalties conceeded between the 20th and 60th minute marks, resulting in big scores being racked up against them before they come home with a wet sail.

Coach Sheens has to get the Tigers playing consistent, focused football if the Tigers are to make a dent in this year's competition. The right ingredients are there, however the mix is not right at the moment with several Tigers players still short of a run (Cayless and Moors) and several injured Tigers still on the sidelines (Payten, Tuiaki). It's still early days though and the Tigers certainly were beaten by the better side today. The Roosters look a totally different team to what they were last year and so far look the most impressive team running around.

Friday night should bring better conditions to what the players faced today and hopefully we see a more determined, focused Tigers side as they prepare to take on arch rivals the Parramatta Eels who have had the wood on the Tigers for a number of years now. Looking forward to next week. :sign:
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king sirro
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Post by king sirro » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 7:37 pm

One thing i noticed today was that when Moltzen moved to 7, Benji got into first reciever even more than he usually does and he looked great. Benji is our 7, i dont care what number he has on his back.
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Post by TheDen » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 7:41 pm

Ellis could also be sitting out next week if he has to answer a tripping charge. This would be a huge loss against the Eels

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Post by PYMBLEPETE » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 7:46 pm

Sorry Willow - normally agree with most of your reports but today:

Way off the mark with Moltzen; had a shocker
Way off the mark on Lawrie's defence; had a shocker
Too tough on Ayshford's defence; he was good

I didnt notice the Moors missed tackles; not sure if you are going off the stats or saw something but I thought he went OK.
Fitzy; at least one suspcious mis-read in defence but the Fitz had a blinder! I would not have selected him in a pink fit but he was very good today.

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Post by Geo. » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 7:49 pm

king sirro wrote:One thing i noticed today was that when Moltzen moved to 7, Benji got into first reciever even more than he usually does and he looked great. Benji is our 7, i dont care what number he has on his back.
You can't say that....

May I say get Farah out of there as well....

Great report Willow.....Moltz had a bad day at the office...other than that hard to argue....
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Post by willow » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 8:12 pm

PYMBLEPETE wrote:Sorry Willow - normally agree with most of your reports but today:

Way off the mark with Moltzen; had a shocker
Way off the mark on Lawrie's defence; had a shocker
Too tough on Ayshford's defence; he was good

I didnt notice the Moors missed tackles; not sure if you are going off the stats or saw something but I thought he went OK.
Fitzy; at least one suspcious mis-read in defence but the Fitz had a blinder! I would not have selected him in a pink fit but he was very good today.
Fair enough Pete, we'll agree to disagree on that one then. I couldn't really find anything to fault with Lawrence's defence whereas Ayshford let in 2 tries in the first half. As for Moltzen, I wasn't fussed on him in the first half but I thought he went better in the second half.

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Post by Vicious » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 8:20 pm

Lawrence came up with a bad miss on Mitch Aubusson and I was a little disappointed in his game today, but he wasn`t on his own. Ayshford is a talent, but he has the size to be much more aggressive than what he currently is when defending, todays game needs it`s centres to be aggressive when defending. I know Beau Ryan has no problem stinging ball runners with his shoulder and i`d be putting Beau in the centres unless Ayshford can start playing more agressively.

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Post by king sirro » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 8:26 pm

Willow i dont think Ayshford let in two tries. He was outnumbered and his winger made the wrong decisions
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Post by tiger05 » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 8:32 pm

king sirro wrote:One thing i noticed today was that when Moltzen moved to 7, Benji got into first reciever even more than he usually does and he looked great. Benji is our 7, i dont care what number he has on his back.
I agree. Personally I'd give him the no 7. I think Moltzen is more a typical 5/8 as well.

He did stuff up a couple of times last year mainly from trying too hard but he is our best player and the player we rely on to get involved.

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Post by palms » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 8:32 pm

Ayshfords problem is that he can't pass or set up his winger. One blatantly obvious opportunity went begging where Daniella was unmarked and would have coasted in for a try but instead Ayshford held onto the ball and went himself. This is something i've noticed both today and more then a few games last year as well.

I hate Fitzy with a passion, although today I thought he was very solid and did what he had to do. He didn't have a 'blinder' as some would allude to though.

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Post by willow » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 8:35 pm

king sirro wrote:Willow i dont think Ayshford let in two tries. He was outnumbered and his winger made the wrong decisions
He was outnumbered in the second half. I was on Blake's side of the field in the first half and had a good angle on where he was defending, he was just found wanting unfortunately.

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Post by fainty » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 8:51 pm

Was farah injured at all today, I really thought he didn't look his normal self.

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Post by willow » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 8:54 pm

fainty wrote:Was farah injured at all today, I really thought he didn't look his normal self.
I'm wondering whether the heat got to him, but Farah is one of the Tigers fittest...He certainly wasn't his usual self. It was his poor defence which stood out more than anything. The kick which failed to find touch also drew Sheens comments after the game. One thing though, we don't normally see Farah turn in two bad performances in a row.

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Post by Geo. » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 9:04 pm

willow wrote:
king sirro wrote:Willow i dont think Ayshford let in two tries. He was outnumbered and his winger made the wrong decisions
He was outnumbered in the second half. I was on Blake's side of the field in the first half and had a good angle on where he was defending, he was just found wanting unfortunately.
In with Sirro....just watched the replay ....Fitzhenry left Ayshford posted not once but twice....the third time Moltzen's fumble should never of happened if Fitzhenry could contest a Bomb....Anasta must have thought it was Christmas...

Never thought I would be estatic to see Beau Ryan come back in....
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Post by southerntiger » Sun 21 Mar, 2010 9:05 pm

king sirro wrote:One thing i noticed today was that when Moltzen moved to 7, Benji got into first reciever even more than he usually does and he looked great. Benji is our 7, i dont care what number he has on his back.

I agree Sirro.

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Post by Paris Cobbs » Mon 22 Mar, 2010 7:46 am

Thanks as always, Willow.
Cheering for the mighty Wests Tigers, all the way from France.

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