Willow's match report and player review

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Willow's match report and player review

Post by willow » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 12:12 am

Round 18 of the Telstra NRL premiership saw the Wests Tigers return home to Campbelltown in a battle of 3rd V 4th as they took on the Gold Coast Titans. The Tigers were looking for an improved performance after a very ugly and disappointing win over the Broncos last week. The Tigers cause wasn’t helped as they were missing halfback Rob Lui and backrower Gareth Ellis to injury. Liam Fulton was promoted to the starting side while a backline reshuffle saw Marshall move to 7, Lawrence to 6, Daniela to the centres and Mitch Brown to the wing. Mark Flanagan returned to the bench and Daniel Fitzhenry was demoted to the bench for this match.

This match would shape as an intriguing encounter with the Titans welcoming back Scott Prince from injury while Greg Bird and Ashley Harrison backed up from Origin. Could the Tigers continue their winning run?

1st half:

The Tigers kicked off and got away to a poor start as the Titans received an extra set of 6 and Wade McKinnon made a meal of fielding a Prince grubber kick and Mat Rogers was on the spot to score. Rogers converted his try to give the Titans an early 6-0 lead. The Titans nearly scored a couple of minutes later as they chipped and regathered in the Tigers half but the last pass went to ground with Gordon unmarked. An enterprising piece of play from the Tigers in the 10th minute saw Chris Lawrence burst through and pass inside out wide for Wade McKinnon but he was unable to handle the pass. The Tigers came up with another set of 6 in the 12th minute as Preston Campbell spilt a chip kick from Farah and Blake Ayshford almost scored from the ensuing play, Farah darted to the right on the next tackle as the Titans were caught short and put in a perfectly placed grubber kick for Mitch Brown to score in the corner. Marshall converted from the sideline to level things up at 6-6.

A great kick/chase from the Tigers in the 15th minute was brought undone as Campbell cut the Tigers up the middle before throwing a loose pass to let the Tigers off the hook. The game developed into an arm wrestle however but the Titans did look more dangerous on the edges with the Tigers scrambling desperately. Benji Marshall was caught in the headlights by Greg Bird in the 20th minute as he dropped the ball and proceeded to get cleaned up by Bird. The Titans were given a penalty in the 21st minute after Scott Prince took a dive and Rogers landed a penalty goal to put the Titans back in front at 8-6. The Titans again broke the Tigers from the re-start but Benji Marshall did well to position himself between support players and the ball.

The Tigers were doing well to scramble and hang on though and continued to grind away at the Titans, they were also producing a good kicking game so far with both Marshall and Farah finding open space as well as the sideline. The Tigers were given a penalty in the 30th minute to help them get out of their own end and Benji Marshall decided to take a quick tap which was not fallen for, he did get another penalty out of it though to get the Tigers inside the Titans half however the attacking raid came to nought. A kick out on the full by Prince in the 32nd minute gave the Tigers the ball on halfway and they were given another penalty 29 metres out and stepped up to take the kick at goal. Marshall made no mistake with it to level the scores at 8-8 with halftime approaching.

A massive bomb from Marshall in the 36th minute saw the Tigers regather and get 6 more tackles only for Marshall to kick it on the first tackle in the hope of repeating Farah’s earlier efforts. The Titans managed to come away safely from this play. With halftime seconds away, the Tigers had the ball and what came next was almost unbelievable, in fact it had to be seen to be believed. With the ball in hand Benji Marshall attempted a field goal from halfway…Well he hit the ball sweetly, it went high, it went long, long enough in fact to nudge the top of the crossbar and bounce over for the biggest field goal I have ever seen. Truly a miracle play. The Tigers in turn went to halftime with a 9-8 lead.

2nd half:

The Titans kicked off and gave away a cheap penalty to get things rolling for the Tigers early. The Titans held the Tigers out, but not before Todd Payten picked up Campbell and force him back into the in-goal. The Tigers got close to the Titans line but a crossfield kick was knocked forward by Tuqiri. The Tigers were given another penalty in the 45th minute and again attacked the Titans line and received 6 more tackles at the end of their set. Chris Lawrence went close to scoring and Blake Ayshford bombed a try a couple of tackles later when he dropped the ball metres from the line with Lote Tuqiri unmarked. A grubber kick from Farah ended up being quite close for the Tigers in the 49th minute but the ball just went dead with players chasing.

The Tigers came up with a great kick/chase in the 52nd minute but gave away a penalty to help take off the pressure they had put on the Titans. A few tackles later the Titans threw the ball over the sideline to give the ball back to the Tigers on halfway. The Tigers came up with a poor last tackle kick though. Robbie Farah made amends on the next set though as placed a perfect kick into the corner to find touch. The game blew up moments later as the scrum packed though as Farah and Friend got stuck into each other. Mark Minichello started throwing punches over the top of them and was given 10 in the bin while the Tigers got the penalty. Farah claimed Friend headbutted him and retaliated. The Tigers failed to capitalise on the penalty as the Titans defence again held firm on their own line and the Tigers came up with an error on the last tackle.

The Tigers came away from their own end in the 61st minute through strong runs from Lawrence and Tuqiri and then they came up with some good second phase play in the Titans half before Farah copped a knock to the nose which stunned him. Again the Tigers last kick failed to trouble the Titans though. Lote Tuqiri came up with a vital play in the 64th minute as he stole the ball from Campbell. The Tigers finally crossed in the 65th minute as they kept the ball alive out wide with Chris Heighington beating a couple of tackles and stepping back infield before offloading to Farah who drew the defence and put Ayshford in out wide. Marshall converted from the sideline to give the Tigers a 15-8 lead.

The Titans weren’t finished however as they capitalised on some flamboyance gone wrong from Marshall as the Tigers ran the ball on the last but Mitch Brown couldn’t take Marshall’s pass. The Titans worked the ball close to the Tigers line and put in a well placed grubber on the last tackle for Gordon to score in the corner. Rogers converted from the sideline to bridge the gap to just one point again. The Tigers didn’t panic though and continued to grind away and play field position. A perfectly weighted kick from Farah found the sideline in the 74th minute which meant the Titans had to go the length of the field if they were to score. The Titans threw a forward pass and then backchatted to give the Tigers a penalty in good attacking range. Again the Tigers last play was poor as Marshall threw a poor pass to no one. The Titans ran the ball on the last tackle in the 77th minute but were caught 30 out from the Tigers line. Again the Titans chanced their arm down the blindside inside their own half with 1 minute left but they spilt the ball and the Tigers held on to record a very gutsy 1 point win in a much improved performance from last week.

Onto the players (stats to be updated):

1. Wade MicKinnon – An unhappy start to the game with a poor read on a grubber which the Titans scored off, and he had some footing troubles too, but he had some good moments too and was safe as a bank vault in the second half. Apart from the costly error at the start of the match, he was solid. 151 metres in attack, 1 offload, 3 errors. 6/10.

2. Lote Tuqiri – Looked a bit patchy out there tonight, his dummyhalf running was not as effective as it has been. Came up with a massive play in the second half with a 1 on 1 steal from Campbell which the Tigers ended up scoring off. One his more quiet games tonight as I think he missed having Lawrence inside him at times. 119 metres in attack, 5 tackle breaks, 4 tackles. 6/10.

3. Blake Ayshford – Bombed a try in the second half, but also ended up scoring one which helped get the Tigers home. Had some strong runs from dummyhalf and made good metres tonight but was unable to give Tuqiri any clean ball which let him down. 118 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 linebreak, 1 offload, 1 error. 6/10.

5. Geoff Daniela – Didn’t see hardly any ball in attack in the first half and missed a few tackles but got a bit more ball in the second half. Defensively he picked his game up in the second half too but overall he was solid without being great or too flash. 64 metres in attack, 1 offload, 21 tackles, 5 missed tackles. 5/10.

18. Mitch Brown - Overall he was fairly quiet as not a lot of traffic was directed his way which i found surprising. Scored the Tigers opening try but didn't receive a lot of ball. Fairly quiet but safe in the end. If Ryan is fit next week I'd expect him to come back in. 46 metres in attack, 4 tackles, 3 missed tackles 1 error. 5/10.

4. Chris Lawrence – Played at five eigth and went alright tonight, given the circumstances. Defensively he was good and was looking to turn the ball inside to McKinnon often, it didn’t always come off, but Lawrence has the potential to be a running five eigth but he’s still a far better proposition in the centres at the moment. Didn’t let anyone down out there though and was solid. 79 metres in attack, 21 tackles, 1 error. 6/10.

6. Benji Marshall – Played at halfback and made a better go of it tonight. His kicking game for the most part was very good, perfect night goalkicking and his 50 metre field goal ended up being a match winner for the Tigers and was simply unbelievable. His general kicking was also very good at times but there were a few kicks which did nothing in the second half. His running game was a bit quiet too as he didn’t really take the Titans line on which was a let down, but he did work well with Farah in directing play. 47 metres in attack, 418 metres kicking, 1 offload, 9 tackles, 2 errors. 7.5/10.

8. Bryce Gibbs – Strong game from Gibbs tonight with some good running and good defence as usual. Got through quite a bit of work out there and was solid. 114 metres in attack, 1 offload, 32 tackles. 7.5/10.

9. Robbie Farah – Picked up the MOM tonight and was excellent, really showed why he should have been selected in SOO as he directed play well from dummyhalf, kicked well and set up the Tigers first try and threw the last pass for Ayshford’s try. Defended well too. Kicked for 370 metres, 2 try assists, 1 linebreak assist, 39 tackles. 8/10.

10. Keith Galloway – Strong game from KG tonight as he ran hard and defended well. Played more minutes and looked a lot better for it. Good game. 140 metres in attack, 1 offload, 36 tackles. 7.5/10.

11. Todd Payten – Good game from Payten tonight as he also did well with the ball in hand and defended very well. Came up with an excellent steal on Brad Meyers late in the game too. 126 metres in attack, 30 tackles. 7.5/10.

12. Liam Fulton – Another Tiger to make a very good contribution, most notably in defence as he topped the tackle count again and also went well in attack. 88 metres in attack, 3 offloads, 51 tackles. 7.5/10.

13. Chris Heighington – Typically strong game from Rhino as he ran hard all night and broke a few tackles once again. Defensively he was strong and really would have looked good in a Blues jersey this year. Strong game. 159 metres in attack, 4 tackle breaks, 2 offloads, 1 linebreak assist, 31 tackles. 8/10.

14. Mark Flanagan – Decent game from Flanagan off the bench. Defended well and hit the ball up the middle ok considering his lack of size. Good effort. 66 metres in attack, 1 offload, 27 tackles. 6.5/10.

16. Simon Dwyer – Played the last 20 minutes and went ok while out there. 28 metres in attack, 9 tackles. 5/10.

17. Daniel Fitzhenry – No game time tonight.

19. Andrew Fifita – Lacked impact tonight as the Titans got up on him well. Bumped a few players off occasionally, but well contained in the end. Defensively he was better than last week but a run in State Cup wouldn’t hurt him next week and Junior Moors get a run. 57 metres in attack, 4 tackle breaks, 16 tackles. 5/10.

Team Stats (Titans in brackets) (stats subject to change once updated):

Tackles made: 340 (368)
All run metres: 1416 (1380)
Penalties: 8 (3)
Errors: 5 (16)
Offloads: 13 (9)
Linebreaks: 1 (2)
Possession: 54% (46%)

Top Tacklers:
Fulton (51), Farah (39), Galloway (36)

Top Metres:
Heighington (159), McKinnon (151), Galloway (140)

Hitups:
Galloway (13), Gibbs (12), Heighington (11)


Overall team wrap up:

Attack:

Well contained by the Titans defence as the scoreline suggests. The Tigers were not as flash as the Titans with the ball in hand as they seemed to work out early on that it was going to be an arm wrestle with both sides evenly matched. The Tigers instead varied up their forward attack, often playing two wide of the ruck or sometimes straight up the middle. The backline plays were far less frequent with Lawrence at 6 and this wasn't a bad thing as the Tigers had a very good completion rate tonight and a low error count as a result. The lowlight was Ayshford spilling the ball with Tuqiri unmarked. While there's no doubt the fans would love to see the Tigers turn it on, the team is getting into arm wrestles and coming out on top which is the most important thing.

Defence:

A bit shaky in the first half as the Titans broke the Tigers on several occasions but the Tigers scramble was there for all to see and both the Titans tries came from grubber kicks which says something about the Tigers goal line defence. All of the forwards defended well while Daniela was shaky in the first half, he defended well in the second half with some good tackles. There was very little to separate the two sides.

Kicking game:

One of the better kicking games I've seen from the Tigers this year. Marshall found open space more than I can remember and troubled the Titans with a couple of towering bombs, he was hitting everything sweetly tonight. Farah also kicked well, finding touch in good field position on several occasions. There were several last tackle options which were poor, but overall the kicking game was good.


A very gutsy win tonight with the Tigers winning another arm wrestle. Despite being low scoring, it was an entertaining match as both sides tested each other. The Tigers produced some great scrambling defence once again and while the attack was not too ambitious, the team came up with an excellent completion rate, won the possession battle and produced a superior kicking game to that of the Titans. It was great team effort and there were no poor players out there tonight, but Farah, Galloway, Heighington, Payten and Fulton were all strong while Marshall landed the best field goal I've ever seen.

The Tigers return to Leichhardt next Monday night to take on the Cowboys. It's match the Tigers should win but anything can happen in this competition and the team will definitely want to put on a good showing in front of the home crowd.

Comments welcome as always.
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Post by triserratops » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 12:15 am

A pretty comprehensive summary.
Farah's game could have almost scored him a 9.
Thanks for the review willow.
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Post by ron burgandy » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 12:17 am

stats dont tell the story in regards to fulton he got belted tonight and was a pillow in attack, out of his 13 runs id say he got forced back on atleast 8 of them, i dont know how you could rate fultons game as good as keiths and better then bryces...but thats just my opinion of course

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Post by willow » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 12:19 am

ron burgandy wrote:stats dont tell the story in regards to fulton he got belted tonight and was a pillow in attack, out of his 13 runs id say he got forced back on atleast 8 of them, i dont know how you could rate fultons game as good as keiths and better then bryces...but thats just my opinion of course
I didn't think he got belted at all, apart from one tackle in the second half where he landed heavily. Otherwise his defence was excellent and was key factor in the Tigers holding the ruck against the Titans IMO.

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Post by ron burgandy » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 12:22 am

willow wrote:
ron burgandy wrote:stats dont tell the story in regards to fulton he got belted tonight and was a pillow in attack, out of his 13 runs id say he got forced back on atleast 8 of them, i dont know how you could rate fultons game as good as keiths and better then bryces...but thats just my opinion of course
I didn't think he got belted at all, apart from one tackle in the second half where he landed heavily. Otherwise his defence was excellent and was key factor in the Tigers holding the ruck against the Titans IMO.
he is always good defensively...thats his fortay~.... i think gibbs and keefy were daylight ahead of him tonight though i would of gave fulton a 5.5 and the other 2 8's....they were great tonight


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Post by NJLM78 » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 12:28 am

Liam Fulton 41 tackles. Just goes to show his value to the team. Good review again Willow. I liked your description of the field goal.

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Post by gatorman » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 12:30 am

Good review, wouldn't have rated Marshall as high as apart from some of his kicking he played no part.

Came up with his usual pass a metre behind the player which Brown couldn't reel in.

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Post by benjibrotown » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 12:33 am

Thought Farah deserved a 9 tonight, he was outstanding for mine. Were lucky that hes playing so well while Lawrence is at 5/8 and Marshall is not at his best.

Also Willow, wondering were you get your photos from?

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Post by willow » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 12:34 am

benjibrotown wrote:Thought Farah deserved a 9 tonight, he was outstanding for mine. Were lucky that hes playing so well while Lawrence is at 5/8 and Marshall is not at his best.

Also Willow, wondering were you get your photos from?
The photos mainly come from the SMH website mate.

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Post by PYMBLEPETE » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 12:39 am

Thanks Willow; great report.

Like others I thought Farah was a 9 at least. And as for Marshall, well his goal kicking won us the game, but he was very ordinary otherwise.

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Post by willow » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 12:43 am

PYMBLEPETE wrote:Thanks Willow; great report.

Like others I thought Farah was a 9 at least. And as for Marshall, well his goal kicking won us the game, but he was very ordinary otherwise.
I'm probably holding back on the ratings a little simply because the Tigers can play better and aren't at their peak yet.

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Post by supercoach » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 1:04 am

Apart from his kicking Marshall was A for average, came up with some brain dead plays and one almost cost us the game. Galloway--way off the pace. Flanagan--no impact. Fifita--no impact. Gibbs and farah best on the park

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Post by Eddie » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 1:09 am

Was an outstanding captains knock from Farah. Heighto wsas very strong again. Gibbs ahead some good aggression in the middle of the park, and Payten was very good again. Lawrence looked decent again at 5/8, he is making a good fist of it but i would rather him in the centres. Big Keith went a bit better tonight, although he is still running at snails pace.

Flanagan doesn't add much from the bench for mine. Surely Moors is a better option. Fifita looked slow tonight, Titans dominated him bar one run.

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Post by rowdy » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 7:52 am

I am a little suprised comparing the stats of Ayshford and Daniela. Watching the game on TV I thought Daniela was very good defensively and didnt notice the 5 missed tackles. Ayshford made some strong runs from dummy half but didnt seem to do a lot other than that. When Lui returns one of these two will have to make way for Lawrence in the centres.

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Post by Paris Cobbs » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 8:09 am

Thanks Willow, great report. I agree that Robbie was a 9 tonight. On Heighno, he made the 'bullocking' run of the year near the end of the game - great spirit, a refusal to be dominated. Benji gets 10/10 for his kicking, but he seems to have lost his confidence in running - there was a moment towards the end on fifth where he should have dummied and hit the accelerator but instead he threw an uncatchable pass past Mitch Brown. 16 metres in attack??
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Post by jirskyr » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 9:13 am

Toddy P got good momentum up when taking a hit-up last night, really happy with his runs.

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Post by smeghead » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 9:24 am

I think people really under rate Ayshford every week.

The metres he makes carrying defenders is amazing and he rarely gets dominated and thus gets quick PTB.

The service to both wingers was poor tonight because the delivery from Benji was stilted and poor allowing the Titans time to crowd the centres.

For the life of me I cannot understand why Moors sat it out while Fifita got a run with a pretty heavily strapped thigh. Its not like he offered any real impact last night and is very lazy defensively.

Also I believe McKinnon or Farah needs to start trailing Flanagan. If someone was there he got the arm free 5 or 6 times last night in a leans passing position. I also think he and Fulton showed enough that the back on the bench may be a thing of the past
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Post by AndTheKungFoSing » Sat 10 Jul, 2010 9:27 am

rowdy wrote:I am a little suprised comparing the stats of Ayshford and Daniela. Watching the game on TV I thought Daniela was very good defensively and didnt notice the 5 missed tackles. Ayshford made some strong runs from dummy half but didnt seem to do a lot other than that. When Lui returns one of these two will have to make way for Lawrence in the centres.
So was I rowdy! I thought Daniela was very solid in defence... pretty sure the stats might be wrong
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