Willow's match report and player review

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Willow's match report and player review

Post by willow » Mon 19 Jul, 2010 11:45 pm

Round 19 of the Telstra NRL premiership saw the Wests Tigers return to Leichhardt Oval to take on the North Queensland Cowboys to complete the round. This shaped as an interesting match for several reasons, not the least of which was the return of Magpies and Wests Tigers veteran and legend, John Skandalis. Skando's return wasn't without some drama due to the good form that Junior Moors was in, however Moors was overlooked in favor of the experienced Skandalis. Rob Lui was also passed fit to play this week, however Coach Tim Sheens opted to play Lui in the NYC match.

This resulted in the same starting side as last week with Skando being the only change to the bench. The Cowboys welcomed back former Tiger Luke O'Donnell for the match. With some light rain before the match, only 11000 people turned up for the match, so the scene was set, would the Tigers deliver?

1st half:

The Tigers started steadily enough but the Cowboys were first to cross through winger Ashley Graham after 5 minutes. The Tigers paid the penalty for not putting Thurston on the deck and he put in a well placed cross field kick which sat up for Graham in the Tigers in-goal. Thurston missed the conversion and Tigers prop Keith Galloway was also injured during this time as he looked to have copped a boot in the head from Thurston as far as i could tell.

The Tigers had a chance to hit back soon after as Lote Tuqiri made a great break downfield to put the Tigers right on the attack. The Tigers last tackle options were poor though and they came up empty after a string of penalties had them camped on the Cowboys line. The Tigers looked to have evened things up in the 14th minute as Todd Payten claimed a try from a Tigers grubber kick into the Cowboys in-goal however the video ref disallowed it. The Cowboys had a try of their own disallowed a couple of minutes later as Matt Bowen beat Geoff Daniela to score out wide however Benji Marshall was obstructed by Scott Bolton.

The Cowboys extended their lead in the 25th minute as Ben Harris scored a soft try off the back of a scrum. The try came off the back of a dropped bomb from Daniel Fitzhenry who had earlier come on to replace Daniela who suffered an injury. Fitzhenry clearly lost the ball backwards so I don't know how the referee said it went forward. Thurston didn't miss this time around and made the score 10-0. The Cowboys were in again 3 minutes later, this time through Tigers discard Arana Taumata as he beat a poor attempted tackle from Ayshford to race 50 metres and score. Once again Thurston added the extras to give the Cowboys a very handy 16-0 lead with the Tigers looking out of sorts in attack.

If the Tigers were to get themselves back into the game, they had to be next to score and fortunately they were as they finally capitalised on some good field position, the ball went through the hands from Farah to Marshall, to McKinnon to Ayshford who offloaded to Tuqiri who crossed in the corner and sent the crowd screaming at last. Marshall's conversion from the sideline was waved away to leave the Tigers trailing 16-4 after 36 minutes. Tuqiri was at it again moments later as Marshall hoisted a bomb high up in the air which the Cowboys couldn't take and the Tigers could, with Tuqiri racing through the middle of the field to put in a chip kick for a chasing Marshall. Unfortunately the ball did not hold up and beat Benji over the dead ball line. The Tigers went to the sheds trailing 16-4 but one got the feeling if the passes stuck, the Tigers could claw their way back.

Best for the Tigers in the first half were Chris Heighington, Lote Tuqiri and Wade Mckinnon.

2nd half:

If the Tigers were going to get themselves back into the game, they had to be first to score, and they were through Mitch Brown in the 45th minute as the Tigers gained good early field position and put the ball through the hands from Farah to Marshall and then Fulton who did well to offload to Brown who did the rest to cross out wide. Again Benji missed the conversion, but the Tigers were now starting to gain in confidence and lift their intensity levels. The Tigers were in again 3 minutes later, this time through Blake Ayshford who managed to force his way over the line out wide. Again Benji's conversion missed to leave the Tigers trailing 16-12.

5 minutes later it was on again, this time through Marshall, who was once again having a mixed game, chipped and chased on the halfway line to regather and weave his way towards Tigers support on the left flank. Marshall eventually threw a cutout ball to Tuqiri who crossed in the corner for his second try. The crowd was really getting involved now but it still wasn't enough to see Benji land the conversion as he was having a shocker with goalkicking tonight.

The match now became an arm wrestle, with the Tigers looking dangerous but coming up with some poor execution on the last tackle once again, Marshall threw a pass over the sideline, as did Mitch Brown to name a couple of instances which brought the pressure undone on the Cowboys who looked to be fading. The game was heading towards field goal territory inside the final 10 minutes and Benji Marshall, after landing a 50 metre field goal last week, had a shot from 15 out but hit the ball terribly and missed. The Cowboys then broke the Tigers open and they were forced to scramble desperately to hold the Cowboys out. The turning point came with just under 5 minutes remaining and the Cowboys in possession and attacking inside the Tigers half. Matt Bowen was penalised for obstruction just as the Cowboys were looking threatening out wide. The Tigers were able to make their way downfield before Marshall threw a great flat pass for Liam Fulton to hit at speed and he raced 45 metres to score, doing very well to brush off Matt Bowen who had every chance to tackle him. The crowd went crazy and Benji finally landed a conversion to give the Tigers the lead for the first time at 22-16 with 3 minutes remaining.

The Cowboys went for a short re-start and got it, getting the ball back for one last shot at the Tigers to try and level things up. As they put the ball through the hands late in the tackle count though, the ball went to ground, and Liam Fulton, who had an excellent second half, swooped to offload to Marshall who raced 60 metres to score a great runaway try. Marshall missed failed to convert his own try to leave his goalkicking figures with 1 from 6 for the night.

Onto the players (stats subject to change):

1. Wade McKinnon - Good game from Wade tonight as he was safe at the back all night and made numerous good runs from dummyhalf. He looks to have settled in very well at the Tigers and was once again one their better players on the field. 136 metres in attack, 1 offload, 5 tackles. 7.5/10.

2. Lote Tuqiri - Powerful game from Lote tonight as he was a handful in attack just about everytime he touched the ball. Scored 2 good tries and made a couple of breaks also. The most dangerous Tiger on the field tonight. 158 metres in attack, 2 tries, 3 linebreaks, 4 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 1 error. 8.5/10.

3. Blake Ayshford - Came up with a bad miss on Taumata which led directly to a try in the first half, but Blake responded well I thought. He came up with several good runs and scored a try of his own. The missed tackles were what let him down but his attack tonight was good. 133 metres in attack, 1 try, 3 linebreaks, 1 linebreak assist, 1 try assist, 6 tackle breaks, 13 tackles, 4 missed tackles. 7/10.

5 Geoff Daniela - Didn't last long tonight unfortunately, suffering an injury and in real doubt for next week I would suggest.

19. Mitch Brown - Started on the wing however he shifted to centre with Daniela suffering an injury. Went ok and got the job done, scoring a try and generally being safe. Threw one pass over the sideline in a panic as he was being driven towards it himself, but many a player has done that over the years. 79 metres in attack, 1 try, 11 tackles, 2 errors. 6/10.

4. Chris Lawrence - Played at five eigth again and was pretty quiet in attack, tending to catch and pass and when he did run, it was more of a straight out hit up rather than off a play out wide. Defensively he was good, but I'd like to see him back in the centres next week given that Lui got through the 20's match unscathed. 75 metres in attack, 23 tackles. 5.5/10.

6. Benji Marshall - Taps was hot and cold tonight, throwing a couple of poor passes, knocking one ball on and missing a couple of tackles. The goalkicking was atrocious but then there were some very good things, several of his bombs were unable to be taken by the Cowboys and his chip/chase for Tuqiri's second try was brilliant. Threw a great ball to put Fulton away for his try and then sealed it with a runaway try on fulltime. It would be nice if he could play consistently well, but thankfully the good outweighed the bad tonight. 109 metres in attack, 1 try, 2 linebreaks, 2 try assists, 1 linebreak assist, 4 tackle breaks, kicked for 230 metres, 7 tackles, 3 missed tackles, 1 error. 7/10.

8. Bryce Gibbs - A bit quiet in his first stint in attack, but he came up with several crucial tackles as the Cowboys were stretching the Tigers thin. Improved his go forward in the second half and got away several offloads. Solid effort once again. 98 metres in attack, 29 tackles, 3 offloads. 7/10.

9. Robbie Farah - Decent game from Robbie, but he didn't cut the Cowboys to pieces around the ruck, mostly due to Hayne keeping a skinny 10. Had several darts out of dummyhalf but was unable to catch the Cowboys markers offside. Defensively he was solid and his kicking game was ok. 47 metres in attack, 1 try assist, 1 linebreak assist, kicked for 170 metres, 27 tackles, 1 error. 7/10.

10. Keith Galloway - Didn't last long tonight, looked to cop a boot in the head from Thurston early on which rattled him and he never came back on in the second half. Hopefully he's right to go against Manly. Not enough gametime to rate effectively.

11. Todd Payten - Good effort from Todd once again but he was well down in attack compared to last week. Defensively he was good as usual and had a couple of good runs in the second half. I would have liked him to continue last week's form, but it was a different type of match played tonight. 71 metres in attack, 4 tackle breaks, 12 tackles, 1 error. 6.5/10.

12. Liam Fulton - Very good game tonight, a bit quiet in the first half but came into his own in the second half, scoring a great try and causing damage on the right edge. 94 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 linebreak, 4 tackle breaks, 2 offloads, 28 tackles, 2 missed tackles. 8/10.

13. Chris Heighington - Another strong performance from Heighno and gave the trainer a mouthful at being replaced late in the game such was his passion. Dented the Cowboys line on just about every run and defended well but did miss several tackles. 112 metres in attack, 3 tackle breaks, 4 offloads, 28 tackles, 4 missed tackles. 8/10.

14. John Skandalis - A safe game from Skando, but one that lacked impact off the bench. The old warhorse was stopped in his tracks effectively tonight, although he defended well. Fifita and Moors offer more at this stage and i hope for the team's sake, Skando's comeback is not a long one given the lack of impact off the bench tonight. 68 metres in attack, 18 tackles. 6/10.

15. Mark Flanagan - Starting to get a little frustrated with Flanagan, not for his lack of effort, there's plenty of that, but lack of impact. Fulton played the full 80 and was very good, Flano played decent minutes too, but doesn't offer the creativity Liam does. Defensively he was fine, but in attack he gets dominated too easily as he is a lightweight. This is where I could see Junior Moors being really effective as a backrow option. 50 metres in attack, 23 tackles. 6/10.

16. Simon Dwyer - I thought Dwyer went quite well tonight and played more minutes due to Galloway being injured. Had one very good run early in the second half, and apart from one dropped ball, he went well tonight. 90 metres in attack, 1 offload, 11 tackles, 1 error. 7/10.

17. Daniel Fitzhenry - Got plenty of game time tonight but didn't impress unfortunately. He was hard done by with a dropped bomb going backwards in the first half, but otherwise Fitzy just looks too slow out on the wing these days. Had a few hitups from dummyhalf but that was about the extent of it. 36 metres in attack, 2 errors. 4/10.


Overall Team Stats (Cowboys in brackets):

Try assists: 6 (2)
Offloads: 18 (2)
Line breaks: 8 (5)
Line break assists: 6 (3)
Tackles made: 251 (279)
1 on 1 tackles: 18 (25)
Missed tackles: 22 (28)
Total metres gained: 1419 (1108)
Possession: 55% (45%)
Completion rate: 29/39 = 74% (20/31 = 65%)
Errors: 10 (14)
Penalties conceded: 2 (9)

Team Performance:

Attack:

In the first half it just wasn't coming together for the Tigers, there were a couple of good moments with Tuqiri and Ayshford making breaks, but largely the Tigers attack failed to ignite and the forward pack failed to get on top of the Cowboys. The second half was a different story as the possession swung and the Tigers execution also improved. Marshall finally started to look dangerous, if erratic and the Tigers scored 5 tries to nil to power over the top of the Cowboys. In the backs, Tuqiri and Ayshford had 6 linebreaks between them, and in the forwards, Heighington and Fulton were both dangerous and Dwyer and Gibbs also had some good moments. Marshall and Lawrence as a combo did not look overly fluid.

Defence:

Pretty poor in the first half, again, 2 of the Cowboys tries came from poor missed tackles and poor reads in general. The defence tightened up in the second half and the scramble defence also improved, but the Tigers will look to improve the defence for next week.

Kicking game:

The bombs Marshall put up were generally good, with several working in the Tigers favor, the long kicking was not as effective though with Bowen proving dangerous on more than one occasion. The kicking continues to be the achilles heel of the Tigers game though. It has to improve if they are to go all the way in this competition.

Tonight definitely wasn't the prettiest of wins, and after a sluggish start to the Tigers lifted in a stirring performance in the second half. There was certainly some grit about the win and they did it the hard way, the Cowboys certainly didn't play the way a team running 15th normally would. They were dangerous at times but also had some simple errors and poor discipline in them which the Tigers took advantage of in the second half.

The worrying sign out of tonight were the injuries to Daniela and Galloway. Daniela could be in real doubt but hopefully Galloway will be right to face Manly. Tonight's win now puts the Tigers equal second with Penrith but the Panthers boast a better for and against.

Next Sunday the Tigers take on Manly at Bluetongue Stadium in what promises to be a very tough contest with Manly finding form in smashing the Sharks while the Tigers need to improve their execution if they are to win.

On a quick sidenote, Gareth Ellis and Tim Moltzen were sitting a couple of rows in front of me and Ellis reckons he'll be right to take on Manly while Moltzen's knee is coming along steadily.
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Post by NJLM78 » Mon 19 Jul, 2010 11:54 pm

Another great review Willow. Good to hear about Ellis and Moltzen at the end. Ellis will definately be a bonus for next weeks game.

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Post by tig_prmz » Tue 20 Jul, 2010 12:00 am

Agree with all but one. Heighno surely deserved a 9 atleast today? He is not that big but every hit up he made a strong run and he has seriously learnt the attack very good.
My Round 1 Team 2018

1. lolo 2. noffa 3. suli 4. milne 5. fonua
6. reynolds 7. brooks
8. packer 9. ET 10. Twal
11. McQuen 12. Lawrence 13. Eiso
14. Matulino 15. McIllwrick 16. Sue 17. Aloiai
18. Marsters 19. Benji 20. Grant 21. K Naiqama
Next: Liddle, MCK, Felise, MWZ, Thompson, Rochow, Gamble

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Post by Geo. » Tue 20 Jul, 2010 12:21 am

See....I knew the ratings were a bad idea....

Gibbo 7.....pfft

Great report mate........plenty of room for improvement from the Wests Tigers ....as always...
Ivan's Laws

1. You are either on the Bus or you are off..
2. The Star of the Team is the Team
3. Be the player your teammates want to play with..
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Sorry FT , you know I'm not the brightest match in the pile

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Post by Paris Cobbs » Tue 20 Jul, 2010 1:55 am

Thanks Willow. Glad to hear you mention the fact that Fitzy knocked the ball back and it should have been play-on when McKinnon picked it up. The ref set a scrum and gave the Cowboys the feed, and they scored. Didn't help at the time.

A stirring win, what a team! Very pleasing that Benji ran with confidence. Pity about the goal kicking - he only kicks them when we need them, like last week vs the Titans!
Cheering for the mighty Wests Tigers, all the way from France.


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Post by tiger05 » Tue 20 Jul, 2010 7:09 am

I though Benji was pretty safe tonight. One dropped ball off a Lawrence pass that was atrocious. One poor pass out on the sideline and one dud grubber. Those were the poor plays that I saw. Maybe I missed some.

The +ves were that he basically led the team to victory. The bombs, the passing game and the running game.

Farah I thought was quite but it didn't matter.

Heighno and Fulton were awesome.

Thanks for the review.

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Post by MacDougall » Tue 20 Jul, 2010 7:26 am

Lol Tiger05 you have it in for Farah. You never let a chance go by to lay the slipper in, even if it's subtle.

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Post by badger » Tue 20 Jul, 2010 8:20 am

Thanks Willow, =2nd 7 wins from last 8. Not playing our best footy. I think cause for optomisum with the return of our backup no7. Ps Lawrence , you didnt mention a rate or didnt rate a mention.

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Post by tiger05 » Tue 20 Jul, 2010 8:26 am

MacDougall wrote:Lol Tiger05 you have it in for Farah. You never let a chance go by to lay the slipper in, even if it's subtle.
I am a harsh judge of his performances. He was good out there but he didn't deserve the same score as Benji imo.

I do also see Robbie as one of our two gun players so I expect a lot.

Robbie is a star and I woudn't swap him for any hooker in the comp.

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Post by willow » Tue 20 Jul, 2010 10:48 am

badger wrote:Thanks Willow, =2nd 7 wins from last 8. Not playing our best footy. I think cause for optomisum with the return of our backup no7. Ps Lawrence , you didnt mention a rate or didnt rate a mention.
5.5/10, mainly due to his lack of attack and ballplaying last night.

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Post by Team Tiger » Tue 20 Jul, 2010 2:04 pm

Thanks, Willow. A great read (as always) :)
WESTS TIGERS: Born in 1908... United in 2000.

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Post by triserratops » Tue 20 Jul, 2010 2:30 pm

willow wrote: 2. Lote Tuqiri - Powerful game from Lote tonight as he was a handful in attack just about everytime he touched the ball. Scored 2 good tries and made a couple of breaks also. The most dangerous Tiger on the field tonight. 158 metres in attack, 2 tries, 3 linebreaks, 4 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 1 error. 8.5/10.

6. Benji Marshall - Taps was hot and cold tonight, throwing a couple of poor passes, knocking one ball on and missing a couple of tackles. The goalkicking was atrocious but then there were some very good things, several of his bombs were unable to be taken by the Cowboys and his chip/chase for Tuqiri's second try was brilliant. Threw a great ball to put Fulton away for his try and then sealed it with a runaway try on fulltime. It would be nice if he could play consistently well, but thankfully the good outweighed the bad tonight. 109 metres in attack, 1 try, 2 linebreaks, 2 try assists, 1 linebreak assist, 4 tackle breaks, kicked for 230 metres, 7 tackles, 3 missed tackles, 1 error. 7/10.

12. Liam Fulton - Very good game tonight, a bit quiet in the first half but came into his own in the second half, scoring a great try and causing damage on the right edge. 94 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 linebreak, 4 tackle breaks, 2 offloads, 28 tackles, 2 missed tackles. 8/10.

13. Chris Heighington - Another strong performance from Heighno and gave the trainer a mouthful at being replaced late in the game such was his passion. Dented the Cowboys line on just about every run and defended well but did miss several tackles. 112 metres in attack, 3 tackle breaks, 4 offloads, 28 tackles, 4 missed tackles. 8/10.
My Top 4 - Good to see they we're yours too! :D
You provide a good read each week willow, thanks mate, beats reading "The Daily Rubbishgraph". :P
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