Willow's match report and player review

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Willow's match report and player review

Post by willow » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 7:03 pm

Round 23 of the Telstra NRL premiership saw the Wests Tigers return to Campbelltown Stadium for their final home game of the season there to take on the Penrith Panthers in a battle of the bigcats. Both teams were locked on 28 points and in poor form despite their positions on the ladder. The Panthers had lost 4 of their last 5 while the Tigers had lost 2 of their last 3, including a heartbreaking 34-30 loss in golden point extra time to Souths last week.

The Tigers entered this match with several injury concerns. Fullback Wade McKinnon was once again named but failed to play while prop Keith Galloway was ruled out with concussion from last week as well. This saw Mitch Brown start at fullback while Bryce Gibbs was promoted from the bench to start in the front row with veteran prop John Skandalis a late inclusion on the bench. Penrith lost fullback Lachlan Coote to injury however welcomed back prop Tim Grant and former Tiger Daine Laurie was promoted to the starting side. It is no secret the Tigers boast a terrible record against the Panthers and lost their first encounter earlier this season. Could they turn the tables today?

1st half:

The Tigers kicked off and got away to a safe start, but it was the Panthers who soon had the early momentum as they enjoyed numerous consecutive sets inside the Tigers half and eventually had their first try to damaging backrower Frank Pritchard. Gordon converted the try to give the Panthers an early 6-0 lead. The Tigers were soon able to mount some pressure of their own as they enjoyed some good field position in Penrith’s half but could not quite crack their line. The Tigers had some more pressure to deal with in the 15th minute but Beau Ryan did well in defusing a cross field bomb.

The Tigers were able to even things up in the 20th minute as Andrew Fifita broke a couple of tackles close to the line and looked set to score only to have the ball stripped, however Robbie Farah was able to pounce on it in the in-goal and got the refs call for a try. Marshall hit the conversion sweetly and it was now 6-6. Benji Marshall came up with a good break in the 24th minute only to have the ball jolted loose as he was streaking down the sideline but the Tigers were able to continue to apply pressure and after a near break from Rob Lui inside the Panthers 30, the Tigers were given a penalty and soon had their second try through Andrew Fifita as he ran onto a good offload from Gareth Ellis close to the line. Marshall converted to put the Tigers in front at 12-6 after 29 minutes.

The Tigers defence and attack structure now looked a lot more composed as they were getting good numbers in tackles and looking good when hitting Penrith on the edges. A poor pass from Farah in the 32nd minute saw Penrith go back on the attack inside the Tigers half however Gareth Ellis did well to come up with an intercept to get the Tigers off the hook. The Panthers made a good break in the 35th minute but some good scrambling defence from the Tigers saw them protect their line. The Tigers had more pressure to deal with moments later as Rob Lui came up with a knock on. The Tigers defence held though and they turned the screws in the 37th minute as Robbie Farah came up with a great 40/20. The Tigers made the Panthers pay as Rob Lui drifted across field and sliced through a gap to score a nice solo try right on halftime. Marshall was again accurate with his conversion to give the Tigers a handy lead at halftime by 18-6.

Best for the Tigers in the first half were Robbie Farah, Mitch Brown, Bryce Gibbs and Gareth Ellis while Andrew Fifita was strong off the bench and Rob Lui had some nice touches. The Tigers made more tackles, but more importantly missed less tackles than the Panthers.

2nd half:

The Tigers got away to a terrible start in the second half, as Benji Marshall had a brain melt and tried a short grubber kick 30 metres out from the Tigers line. The Panthers hit back through a comedy of errors as the Panthers threw a couple of ordinary passes to lose ground, and then Rob Lui grabbed Michael Gordon while Chris Lawrence came in over the top to fall him completely. Gordon proceeded to race 25 metres to score a simple try and get his side right back in the match as he converted his try to narrow the score to 18-12 after 44 minutes.

The Tigers managed to re-focus fortunately and continued to get good numbers in tackles in the middle of the field. Mitch Brown came up with a nice break in the 47th minute as he broke through the Panthers line and this was followed up by a good run from Liam Fulton. Farah came up with a poor last tackle kick on the last tackle though. Another good kick from the Tigers in the 50th minute forced the Panthers into working the ball away from their own line. Both teams continued to grind away and Tim Sheens responded by putting Chris Heighington and Andrew Fifita back on in the 55th minute. Mitch Brown was again solid in the 56th minute as he defused a good bomb from the Panthers and the Tigers were then given a penalty a couple of tackles later. The Tigers then hit back through Gareth Ellis as the Tigers got a quick play the ball from Heighington and the ball was spread to the left to Lui who showed good footwork to draw in two defenders before offloading to Ellis on the charge who ran a good line to cross over near the posts. Marshall again converted to extend the Tigers lead once again.

The Tigers looked to control the match now, with Farah again finding the sideline from the re-start. Mitch Brown again did well in defusing a grubber kick from the Panthers and got a quick play the ball away for Lote Tuqiri who streaked off downfield. The Panthers looked to have scored in the 64th minute as Gavin Cooper broke the Tigers up the middle and offloaded to Pritchard who was pulled down just short of the line and ruled to have had a second go, giving the Tigers a much need penalty. The Tigers then gave away a penalty in the 65th minute as marshall and Fulton lay in the tackle too long. Michael Jennings then scored for Penrith after Luke Lewis put Frank Pritchard into a hole who offloaded to Gordon who in turn offloaded to Jennings to score. Gordon again converted to bridge the gap to 24-18 with 12 minutes remaining.

Just when you thought the Tigers might get run down, former Tiger Daine Laurie came up with an error while trying to work the ball out of the Panthers half. The Tigers had obviously spoken long and hard about letting sides get back into the match after last week’s disappointment and looked to hit right back as Mitch Brown broke through from the scrume win and then Andrew Fifita was held up on the next tackle. Gareth Ellis then scored his second try of the afternoon after he again ran an excellent line to crash over with Rob Lui and Benji Marshall looking sharp in the lead up. Marshall converted to extend the Tigers lead once again to 30-18. The Tigers then extended the lead to 13 points as Penrith kicked out on the full and the Tigers worked it to within field goal range and Farah made no mistake with the shot.

The Tigers weren’t finished however as they now pressed home their advantage and started to show their attacking prowess. Geoff Daniela broke through the Panthers in the 76th minute and almost scored however Andrew Fifita once again showed his size and strength close to the line and scored his second try after running off a nice flat pass from Farah close to the line. Marshall converted to put the Tigers lead out to 37-18 with a couple of minutes remaining. It didn’t end their though as Fifita broke the Panthers off the re-start and raced 35 metres downfield before being tackled. The Tigers then put the icing on the cake as they put the ball through the hands and Chris Lawrence scored a fine individual 60 metre try showing great pace to score under the posts. Marshall kicked 7/7 to give the Tigers a 43-18 win after doing it tough in the first half and surviving a Panthers comeback in the second half.

In a very nice gesture the Tigers clapped off young Tigers fan Lleyton Giles who was a special guest and got to lead the Tigers onto the field.

Onto the players:

19. Mitch Brown – Had his best game in Tigers colours today and was pretty much faultless, showing great positioning at the back, safe under the high ball and made excellent metres with a couple of linebreaks for good measure. If McKinnon is out again next week, Brown has to stay at the back. 209 metres in attack, 2 linebreaks, 5 tackle breaks, and 1 offload. 8.5/10.

2. Lote Tuqiri – Solid today and safe than last week. Didn’t get a lot of opportunity in attack, the Tigers left side combo of Lawrence and Tuqiri was largely ignored today. He was good in helping the Tigers get out of their own half and defensively was not really troubled. 93 metres in attack, 5 tackle breaks, 5 tackles, 2 errors. 6/10.

3. Blake Ayshford – Decent game from Blake, got a bit of ball in the first half but didn’t see much of him in the second half as a lot of the game was played through the forwards. No bad misses in defence today that I could see. 62 metres in attack, 1 linebreak assist, 12 tackles, 2 missed tackles. 6.5/10.

4. Chris Lawrence – Pretty quiet for most of the game but finished it off with an excellent 60 metre try where he showed great pace. Had a couple of bad misses in defence, dropping off Michael Gordon and missing Luke Lewis which also led to a Panthers break. Otherwise Rowdy was solid though and it was great to see him play after being in doubt all week due to concussion. 92 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 linebreak, 18 tackles, 2 missed tackles, 1 error. 6.5/10.

5. Beau Ryan – What a difference a week makes. After turning in his worst ever game in Tigers colours last week, Ryan came back well today with a mistake free game today and came up with some good kick defusals when put under pressure. Really put his body on the line late in the game when he got cleaned up by Luke Lewis too. 66 metres in attack, 4 tackle breaks, 4 tackles. 6.5/10.

6. Benji Marshall – Not bad today, played within himself as far as his playmaking goes and cut out the silly errors that spoiled his game last week. Didn’t take the line on as much as I thought he could, and other than a silly grubber kick to start the second half, he was good, particularly his goalkicking, landing a perfect 7 from 7. 105 metres in attack, 1 linebreak, 1 try assist, 2 linebreak assist, 4 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 4 tackles, 2 errors. 7/10.

7. Rob Lui – Good game from Lui and looked the most comfortable I think I’ve seen him out there today. Had one blooper with Lawrence on Gordon at the start of the second half, but otherwise he was good, particularly his attack and organisational play. 69 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 linebreak, 5 tackle breaks, 1 try assist, 1 linebreak assist, 1 offload, 13 tackles, 3 missed tackles, 2 errors. 7.5/10.

17 – Bryce Gibbs – Solid first half from Bryce but suffered a back injury and took not further part in the game. Hopefully he’s right to play next week as he was looking solid today. 56 metres in attack, 1 linebreak, 15 tackles. 6/10.

9. Robbie Farah – Good captain’s knock today as Farah was instrumental in several plays, kicking a 40/20, scoring a try and kicking a field goal to put the Tigers out to a 13 point lead. Defensively he was good and called the shots well today. 29 metres in attack, 1 try, 2 try assists, 2 linebreak assists, 1 field goal,1 offload, 30 tackles, 4 missed tackles. 8/10.

10. Todd Payten – Solid game from Todd as he was solid around the ruck and went forward with the ball. Did a lot of the dirty work but it wasn’t unnoticed as he was a real key in the Tigers controlling and winning the ruck. 70 metres in attack, 25 tackles. 7/10.

11. Liam Fulton – Another good game today, defending well and had several good runs on the edges of the ruck. Another of the Tigers unsung heroes today. 96 metres in attack, 1 offload, 32 tackles, 3 missed tackles, 1 error. 7.5/10.

12. Gareth Ellis – Turned in a MOM performance today and was a real handful, particularly in the second half as he was too strong for Penrith on the edges. Ran hard and defended well, great game today. 113 metres in attack, 2 tries, 2 linebreaks, 8 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 33 tackles, 1 error. 9/10.

13. Chris Heighington – Another strong game from Heighno and after getting a spell in the first half, he was strong again in the final 25 minutes. Good running and defended well. 97 metres in attack, 5 tackle breaks, 2 offloads, 23 tackles, 3 missed tackles. 8/10.

14. Andrew Fifita – Wow, what an impact he had off the bench today, almost bagged 4 tries but had to settle for 2 tries in the end. Proved a real handful for Penrith breaking their line on numerous occasions. Defensively he was also pretty good. 113 metres in attack, 2 tries, 4 linebreaks, 10 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 23 tackles. 8.5/10.

15. Geoff Daniela – Got on in the last 5 minutes and almost scored a try. 33 metres in attack, 1 linebreak.

16. Simon Dwyer – Had to tough it out again today and did well I thought. I think this will really help him heading into next year as he has plenty of improvement left in him. Defensively he was fine. 46 metres in attack, 19 tackles. 6.5/10.

18. John Skandalis – A late call up and held his own against the Panthers pack. Got hit hard a few times but still kept getting up and going forward. Good effort from the warhorse. 61 metres in attack, 1 offload, 12 tackles, 2 missed tackles. 6/10.

Overall team analysis:

Attack:
It stuttered early as the Tigers had a couple of chances to hit Penrith, but once the team settled down, they played an effective game where they looked good on the edges. The Tigers were given good go forward from Gibbs, Ellis and Heihno early on and it continued with the inclusion of Fifita and Dwyer. Farah and Marshall didn’t take the line on as I thought they would, but they were effective in spreading the ball and Lui also was good in this department. Considering 5 of the Tigers 6 tries were scored by forwards, it was a departure from the usual flamboyance the Tigers usually show. There were some great lines run by Ellis and Lui, Farah and Marshall all threw some nice flat balls for players to hit at speed. The Tigers cut loose in the last 10 minutes entertaining the crowd which was great to see.

Defence:
For the most part it was pretty good. I was very worried how the Tigers would handle the Panthers size advantage in the forwards but they got good numbers in tackles and were only broken a couple of times by the Panthers, and conceded a soft try to Gordon through Lui and Lawrence. Only two Panthers forwards made over 100 metres in attack which is a testament to the Tigers defence around the ruck today.

Kicking game:
Pretty good, Farah in particular kicked really well for the most part, with only a couple of kicks in the second half being poor. The chase was good as well. Benji and Lui took a bit of a backseat with the kicking today.
Overall team stats (To be updated and Panthers in brackets):

Try assists: 6 (2)
Offloads: 10 (18)
Linebreaks: 13 (7)
Linebreak assists: 8 (5)
Tackles made: 266 (280)
1 on 1 tackles: 23 (34)
Missed tackles: 31 (54)
Tackle breaks: 61 (35)
Total metres made: 1425 (1299)
Possession: 52% (48%)
Completion rate: 33/40 = 83% (25/34 = 74%)
Errors: 9 (11)
Penalties conceded: 4 (7)

I had real doubts over the Tigers getting this one today, their record against Penrith is terrible and they have tended to struggle to contain the Panthers forward pack. I was glad to be proven very wrong today though as they defended the ruck very well, won the ruck, controlled the ball very well and ultimately ran away with the game late in the match. It was a real team effort today with everyone proving solid to excellent and it was a great way to respond after the disappointment of losing to Souths last week. The win puts the Tigers back into the top 4 and facing another tough match against the Eels next week who need to win to keep their finals hopes alive. Today was a great way to send off the faithful who attended at Campbelltown though.
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Post by alexaki » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 7:10 pm

Great Post Willow!...

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Post by softlaw » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 7:14 pm

I think you've been a bit generous to Benji. He showed no control with ball in hand at all today. Good to see his goalkickings working though!
fwiw I agree with everything else though :)
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Post by The Phantom » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 7:24 pm

softlaw wrote:I think you've been a bit generous to Benji. He showed no control with ball in hand at all today. Good to see his goalkickings working though!
fwiw I agree with everything else though :)
Benji was ordinary..too many mistakes.

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Post by PYMBLEPETE » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 7:55 pm

Terrific summary Willow. I also thought Benji was ordinary. He has just gotta cut some of the mistakes out of his game.


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Post by willow » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 7:57 pm

The Phantom wrote:
softlaw wrote:I think you've been a bit generous to Benji. He showed no control with ball in hand at all today. Good to see his goalkickings working though!
fwiw I agree with everything else though :)
Benji was ordinary..too many mistakes.
One dropped ball in the first half after making a break down the sideline and one poor grubber kick to start the second half. Where were the other mistakes? Nice pass to put Ellis in for his second try too when the game was in the balance...

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Post by king sirro » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:01 pm

I agree with your ratings Willow except for Lui. He was terrible again. Its a shame because i really think he has the talent to be a star, but something is lacking at the moment.
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Post by Centaur » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:05 pm

There were a lot of shocking passes thrown today. Didn't at least six passes get thrown to the ground? I can't recall who threw them exactly because I was watching live, but I am relatively certain it was pretty even between Farah and Marshall.

Marshall did some good things today, but I am afraid to say, I still think he is making far too many mistakes, and making bad decisions with the ball in his hands. But hey we won won by 20-odd points so I won't be critical. Besides, 7 from 7 - awesome!

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Post by Geo. » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:07 pm

Lui was not terrible....I cant agree...He had Waterhouse. Lewis, Civo Pritchard and McKendry running at him all day...left posted a few times as well....What was so bad about his attack?....harsh Sirro....

Benji on the other hand....to high ....watch the first half again
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Post by Centaur » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:09 pm

king sirro wrote:I agree with your ratings Willow except for Lui. He was terrible again. Its a shame because i really think he has the talent to be a star, but something is lacking at the moment.
Terrible? Please tell me why.

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Post by king sirro » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:11 pm

For me Geo, Lui was not involved enough for a halfback, and his bombed try in the first half and missed tackle on Gordan in the second cost us 12 points. He needs to lift in a few areas to cement his spot and i think he's letting us down at the moment.
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Post by softlaw » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:15 pm

willow - There was a particular one that stood out for me. I think it was late in the 1st half, it wasn;t the last tackle, we were in their half and he ran the ball, got in a bit of trouble (no chance of going over the sideline or anything) and then just blindly threw the ball out the back. It was the classic mental snap of someone trying too hard to make things happen. No idea where the ball was going to end up or who was going to end with it. He completely panicked for no reason at all. It is OK to actually be tackled with the ball every now and again but he just refuses to accept that.

edit - geo - that tackle on Gordon he actually had stopped him and then Lawrence came in and knocked Lui away from him. That one wasn;t Lui's fault. & unfortunately he's not the first, nor will he be the last to drop a bouncing ball over the line.
His involvement was a lot better today I thought because he actually called the ball away from Benji, in particular at 1st receiver, more often. A good step in the right direction.
Last edited by softlaw on Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Centaur » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:16 pm

king sirro wrote:For me Geo, Lui was not involved enough for a halfback, and his bombed try in the first half and missed tackle on Gordan in the second cost us 12 points. He needs to lift in a few areas to cement his spot and i think he's letting us down at the moment.
Difficult for a halfback to inject himself into the game when your hooker always goes to the other side. In a side dominated by Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall, any halfback is going to have a hard time stamping authority...unless you live with Benji Marshall of course...

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Post by willow » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:18 pm

softlaw wrote:willow - There was a particular one that stood out for me. I think it was late in the 1st half, it wasn;t the last tackle, we were in their half and he ran the ball, got in a bit of trouble (no chance of going over the sideline or anything) and then just blindly threw the ball out the back. It was the classic mental snap of someone trying too hard to make things happen. No idea where the ball was going to end up or who was going to end with it. He completely panicked for no reason at all. It is OK to actually be tackled with the ball every now and again but he just refuses to accept that.
Flick pass which Ryan regathered from memory. I didn't think he was as erratic as last week though.

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Post by fergiefurr » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:20 pm

Benji and farah didn't trust Lui enough today. Especially early in the first half. I thought he had his best game in first grade.

What do people expect him to do? Scream for the ball over farah and Marshall? It's not going to happen and won't for a few years. He can only get as involved as our 2 main play makers let him

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Post by softlaw » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:21 pm

Agreed he was better than last week.
But last week our backline was rubbish :(
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Post by willow » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:21 pm

king sirro wrote:For me Geo, Lui was not involved enough for a halfback, and his bombed try in the first half and missed tackle on Gordan in the second cost us 12 points. He needs to lift in a few areas to cement his spot and i think he's letting us down at the moment.
Fair enough Sirro, I thought Lui was pretty good overall. I thought the missed chance to score a try could have happened to anyone chasing through. Lui did very well in setting Ellis up in the second half. Defensively he's still got a ways to go, but I thought he showed good signs today.

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Post by Chris » Sun 15 Aug, 2010 8:24 pm

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