Round 2: Willow's Match Report

Kickoff: 7:30pm
Venue: Leichhardt Oval
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Willow's match report and player review

Post by willow » Sat 19 Mar, 2011 10:47 pm

Round 2 of the Telstra NRL premiership saw the Wests Tigers return to Leichardt Oval for their first home match of the season to take on the New Zealand Warriors in a match where both teams were looking to open their season with a win. The Tigers went down to the Bulldogs in Monday night football in round 1 and were facing a short turnaround while the Warriors were humbled at home by Parramatta. The Tigers were dealt a huge blow on the eve of the match losing tough forwards Bryce Gibbs and Gareth Ellis. This resulted in the Schirnack brothers – Al and Jason being promoted to fill the massive void and hopefully get the job done. The Warriors were missing James Maloney and Manu Vatuvai so the playing field between the two teams had evened out somewhat in what shaped as a tough match.

Who would prove victorious in round 2?

1st half:
The Tigers kicked off and got away to a safe start. The Tigers came up with a nice grubber kick from Robbie Farah in the 4th minute which resulted in a line drop out to give the Tigers their first repeat set for the match. The Tigers came up with a very nice set piece from the re-start but Chris Lawrence fielded a lovely pass from Marshall in the head, instead of catching it and racing through to score what would have been a great try. A nice bomb from rob Lui was well defused by Lance Hohaia in the 7th minute and the Warriors received the first penalty of the match moments later. The Warriors came up with an attacking kick out on the full from the next set and the Tigers then got their own penalty to help get them out of their half however Andrew Fifita came up with a drop ball to bring the good work undone and then they gave away a penalty as Simon Dwyer rushed in for a big hit. Feleti Mateo returned the favour to the Tigers by dropping the ball cold as the Tigers held on.

The Tigers then gave away another penalty in the 12th minute as Chris Heighington was ruled to strip the ball in a strong tackle made by Fifita. The Tigers defence just held as they forced the ball in-goal. The Warriors appeared to be hard done by as replays showed the ball was not forced. The Warriors were then given a scrum feed 10 out from the Tigers line to have yet another crack at their line. The Tigers again forced the ball dead to give the Warriors their third set of 6 in a row. The Warriors finally coughed the ball up out wide as the Tigers desperately struggled to hold on. The Tigers then came up with a solid set of 6 in the 20th minute and a good grubber from Marshall bounced off Hohaia’s legs and into touch to give the Tigers their real chance to attack inside the warriors half. The Tigers looked to open the scoring but the final pass from Blake Ayshford to Matt Utai was ruled forward.

The Tigers were given a much needed penalty in the 22nd minute and the Warriors were marched a further 10 metres for their trouble to put the Tigers right on the attack. Simon Dwyer then fumbled a short ball which appeared to hit him in the chest a little too hard, but it forced the Tigers to go into defensive mod once again. Benji Marshall came up with a desperate intercept in the 24th minute and was just as desperately ankle tapped by the Warriors chasers. The Tigers received a penalty moments later to give them another chance in attack. Another promising Tigers attacking raid down the left side of the field resulted in the Warriors picking up a loose flick pass from Marshall as he skirted down the sideline. Todd Payten then put the Tigers under all sorts of pressure as he dropped the ball on his first hit up while rucking the ball out from the Tigers line. The Tigers defence held on but Matt Utai was forced in-goal to give the warriors another line drop-out. The Tigers defence was again solid and Rob Lui came up with the ball from a charge-down. The Warriors then gave away a penalty to bring some much needed relief to the Tigers.

The Tigers then finally opened the scoring through Chris Lawrence as the Tigers spread the Warriors from one side of the field to the other and Benji Marshall also did well in scooping up a pass which was close to the ground and throwing a lovely timed pass to Lawrence who had too much speed and strength for the Warriors cover defence. Marshall converted the sideline conversion to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead 5 minutes out from half-time. Unfortunately Aaron Woods dropped a ball cold from the re-start to give the Warriors another chance. The Tigers defence finally broke as Simon Mannering broke through to score. The try was converted to level the scores at 6-6. Benji Marshall attempted a field goal just before halftime but the kick fell short and both teams went to the sheds locked up.

The Tigers completion rate was what let them down in the first half as put themselves under all sorts of pressure in defence. The defence was pretty good and the kicking game had shown signs of improvement but if the Tigers could not address their handling issues, it could prove the difference as possession favoured the Warriors. Best players for the Tigers were Benji Marshall who was prominent in attack, Andrew Fifita, Keith Galloway, Robbie Farah and Chris Heighington got through plenty of work in the forwards while Matt Utai was proving hard to put down out wide while Wade McKinnon was effective at fullback.

2nd half:
The Tigers received the ball from the kick off and got away to a safe start and the Warriors kicked out on the full on their first set. Robbie Farah came up with a nice touch finding kick in the 42nd minute as the Warriors were forced to work the ball out of their own half. The good work was undone as Chris Heighington gave away a penalty on the first tackle. Rob Lui came up with a great offload to put Wade McKinnon into space but he was desperately chopped down by the Warriors cover defence to halt the Tigers break. McKinnon was into the action moments later as he came up with a great kick return in the 46th minute. Matt Utai came up with a dropped pass as the Tigers attacked the Warriors out wide. The Warriors then hit the lead in the 48th minute as they threaded the sideline with a grubber kick was overrun but fumbled by Utai and regathered by the Warriors. Krisnan Inu then dived over in the corner from dummyhalf to give them the lead for the first time in the match. The conversion was converted to give the Warriors a handy 12-6 lead after 50 minutes.

The Tigers defence then started to look shaky as the Warriors punched up through the middle of the field and they were given another set of 6 only to drop the ball from a scrum win to let the Tigers off the hook. Tim Moltzen entered the game in the 52nd minute. Benji Marshall came up with a near-miss in the 55th minute as he put in a grubber kick for himself which he only just missed on re-gathering. The Warriors then fumbled the ball in the 57th minute inside their own half which was dived upon by Moltzen. The Warriors defence held on though and the Tigers gave away another penalty with the Warriors pinned on their own line.

The Tigers finally got a penalty of their own in the 60th minute to put them on the attack deep inside the Warriors half. Blake Ayshford then put the Tigers right back in the game as he beat 3 defenders on his way to the line. It came off a nice pass from Rob Lui who was having a strong game. Marshall missed the simple conversion to leave the Tigers trailing by 2 points with 17 minutes remaining. Robbie Farah then knocked the ball on from the re-start to put the Tigers under all sorts of pressure despite the ball appearing to go back. The Tigers defence held as the Warriors coughed the ball up early. Benji Marshall then came up with a great pass to put Simin Dwyer into a hole and Dwyer raced 30 metres downfield before being caught. From the next play the Tigers had the Warriors caught short as Robbie Farah scored next to the posts after Marshall threw yet another good pass to put the Tigers back into the lead. Marshall made no mistake with the conversion this time to give the Tigers a 16-12 lead with 11 to go.

Andrew Fifita was then ruled to lose the ball on the first tackle but replays showed the ball was stripped in a tough call against the Tigers. The Warriors thankfully dropped the ball on the first tackle to let the Tigers off the hook. The Tigers then came up with some good defence to pin the Warriors in their half on the next set. The Warriors then came up with a forward pass inside their own half in the 7nd minute to give the Tigers a chance to close the game out if they could score another try. The Tigers didn’t disappoint as Chris Lawrence crossed for his second try to put the game beyond the Warriors reach at 20-12 with less than 5 minutes remaining. Marshall’s conversion hit the posts to miss. The Warriors then gave away a penalty as a short kick off failed to go the distance. The Tigers then claimed a try through Chris Heighington as he dived on a grubber kick from Lui but there was doubt as Wade McKinnon was offside and inside the 10 when the kick and try were scored. The video ref ruled no try and the Warriors were given a penalty.

In the end the Tigers held on for their first win of the season although they were hardly dominant in doing so as they made plenty of mistakes and were forced to defend well.

Onto the players:

1. Wade McKinnon – Pretty good tonight as he was safe at the back and proved a lot more effective in attack, coming up with a line break and some good running in general. Made good metres in a welcome return to some form. 8/10.

2. Lote Tuqiri – Did not see too many opportunities in attack tonight as the Warriors thought the better of kicking to him so it was more dummyhalf running from Lote tonight, which he did well. Made 13 hit ups though so he got in and did some hard work when the Tigers were struggling to get the ball out of their own half. 6.5/10.

3. Blake Ayshford – Scored a fine try tonight and took 3 defenders with him each time he ran the ball. Also defended well and got away several offloads in a solid game. 7/10.

4. Chris Lawrence – Bagged a double tonight and showing some good early season form which is great to see. Came up with a couple of errors including a terrible falcon which looked funny, but really cost the Tigers a try in the first half. He wasn’t really troubled in defence as the Warriors did not send a lot of traffic his way. 7.5/10.

5. Matt Utai – Rocks and diamonds, but mostly diamond tonight as he proved very hard to put on the ground and was one of three Tigers players to make more than 100 metres in attack (McKinnon and Heighington the other two). But while he was solid in attack, he looks hesitant at times in defence was turned inside out in the lead up to the Inu try in the second half. Actually swapped with Ayshford in defence on the last tackle when it came to defusing kicks close to the Tigers line. Largely holding his own out there though. 6.5/10.

6. Benji Marshall – Yet to hit top form, but it’s looking ominous in some respects as his passing game is proving deadly on occasion as he came up with another couple of try assists tonight in throwing lovely passes for Lawrence and Farah as well as putting Dwyer through a great hole. Goalkicking was average again and his running game was not prominent in the win, although he looked dangerous with the ball in hand and looking to the runners outside him. Defence wasn’t bad either. 7.5/10.

7. Rob Lui – Another good game from Lui tonight as he looked sharp in attack and was good in defence. Threw some lovely passes out there including an excellent pass to put McKinnon into space and a try assist for Ayshford. Really liking the look of the Lui/Marshall combination this season so far. 7/10.

16. Andrew Fifita – Got through a decent amount of work in defence again and has really improved his lateral movement which is pleasing to see. Didn’t come up with any barnstorming runs but was solid all the same as he adjusts to starting in the front row. 6/10.

9. Robbie Farah – Better game than last week as he offered more in attack and looked threatening. Scored a nice try in the second half to put the Tigers back in the lead and also kicked ok out of dummyhalf. Defended well as usual. 7/10.

10. Keith Galloway – Got through plenty of work in defence making nearly 30 tackles but not as busy in attack, as the Tigers turned over too much ball. Came up with a couple of good runs but there’s still room for improvement which I’m sure will happen as the Tigers structure settles over the coming weeks. 6.5/10.

11. Simon Dwyer – Mixed bag in the first half. Defended better than round 1 although he came up with a dropped ball in attack. His second half was stronger again as he defended well but also attacked better including a nice line break off a Marshall pass. It just goes to show he is a lot more effective when used as a wide running second rower rather than hitting it up the guts like a prop – another 3-4kg might help that over the coming seasons though. 6.5/10.

20. Al Schirnack – Had a decent start to the game getting through some nice work early although he had a long rest on the sidelines and didn’t really do much in attack. Defended ok. 5.5/10.

13. Chris Heighington – Pick of the forwards tonight as he was tireless in attack and defence as his stats show, leading the tackles and metres made. Unlucky not to score a try at the end as McKinnon was ruled offside but otherwise filled the void left by Ellis very well. 8/10.

14. Tim Moltzen – Came on in the 52nd minute and looked to play in the centres in attack and defence despite replacing Jason Schirnack whom played in the backrow. Did not feature prominently in attack or defence, but got more gametime than last week as Sheens promised and will likely get more gametime again next week. 5/10.

15. Aaron Woods – Apart from a poor dropped ball, the young giant looked good again out there, getting through a lot of work in defence and proving capable with the ball in hand. Given he’s still only 19, this kid could be anything in a few years with continued development. 6.5/10.

17. Todd Payten – First half started poorly with a dropped ball but his defence was effective as usual even if the big hombre was not prominent with the ball in hand. Had a stronger second half in attack and defended well overall. The big fella is still definitely finding his feet after an injury plagued off-season. 6/10

18. Jason Schirnack – Had a good go out there in attack and defence although he was beaten by Mannering as he crashed over close to the Tigers line late in the first half. Busy in defence though and runs the ball hard. I hate to say it but his lack of size counts against him and I’d prefer to run with big brother Al as far as the backrow is concerned. 6/10.

Player stats:

Overall team analysis:


There were some good signs out there tonight as Farah, Marshall and Lui all looked dangerous at times while Lawrence, McKinnon, Ayshford and Utau all had their moments out wide. Despite only having 45% possession, the Tigers were the more dangerous team in attack and even allowing for a poor completion rate of 65%, they made far more line breaks than the Warriors. Still way off their best though as the slippery conditions did not suit them.


Pretty good overall as the Tigers were forced to make more tackles than the Warriors and had to defend their line for longer periods of time. Everyone in the team defended well from what I could see, although Utai looks a bit hesitant out wide when the kicks are put in. I was very impressed with the workload done by Heighington, Galloway, Woods and Fifita.

Kicking game:

An improvement from round 1 although still not great. All bombs put up by the Tigers were easily defused while they had more success kicking for the corners tonight.

Team stats (Please refer to link below):

Overall it was a scrappy win, but an important one for the Tigers as they made it 6 wins in a row at Leichardt despite losing 3 of their better forwards due to injury. While at times frustrating to watch given the amount of ball the Tigers dropped, their commitment in defence was good and they had enough firepower in Marshall, Lui and Farah to take the game away from the Warriors in the second half – And they didn’t panic when behind on the scoreboard.

Next week will prove another tough challenge as the Tigers take on Canberra at Campbelltown in what shapes as another intriguing match. The Raiders boast the biggest forward pack in the competition so the Tigers will need to prepare well for this game.
Photo courtesy of Getty images
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Photo courtesy of Getty images
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Post by alexaki » Sat 19 Mar, 2011 10:51 pm

Hey Willow...great report and welcome back were missed!...:-)...Mate you should work for the SMH!

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Post by Demps » Sat 19 Mar, 2011 10:56 pm

Thanks for taking the time to write that up.
I'm not going to read it all as I'm tired and I watched the game, however I read the player reviews and I think Ayshford was atleast an 8 tonight.
The rest I can agree on.
Good work Willow.

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Post by happy tiger » Sat 19 Mar, 2011 10:57 pm

Well done Willow thanks helps clears a few things up Missed game as was called into work late Listened on Grandstand ABC Willow at one stage in 2nd half commentators said one Tiger seemed badly injured and that Leeds was calling for stetcher Do you know who they were talking about and if the player was ok ?? Thanks 4 any feedback

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Post by alexaki » Sat 19 Mar, 2011 10:58 pm

happy tiger wrote:Well done Willow thanks helps clears a few things up Missed game as was called into work late Listened on Grandstand ABC Willow at one stage in 2nd half commentators said one Tiger seemed badly injured and that Leeds was calling for stetcher Do you know who they were talking about and if the player was ok ?? Thanks 4 any feedback
Actually agree Ayshford was my MOM tonight...8.5/10

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Post by everett » Sat 19 Mar, 2011 11:00 pm

Welcome back Willow with a great first up review of season 2011.

I thought Asyhford deserved a 8.5 for his effort tonight and close to man of match.

So much to like about Woods and only 19 he could be anything.
Living the dream and praying for another premiership

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Post by Peaches » Sat 19 Mar, 2011 11:31 pm

Welcome back Willow.

I must say I think you under-scored for me Tuqiri, Utai and Ayshford. They were very prominent making meters out of own end pretty much every set.

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Post by PYMBLEPETE » Sat 19 Mar, 2011 11:33 pm

Like everyone else - Ayshford 8.5 but otherwise on the money

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Post by tigergirlz » Sat 19 Mar, 2011 11:42 pm

I'm for Ayshford as MOM as well. Will read report in the morning as my eyes hurt.

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Post by Marshall_magic » Sat 19 Mar, 2011 11:45 pm

McKinnon had his best game for the club
Ayshford had a strong game
Marshall was very good, laid on some great tries
Farah was back to being his normal self minus a bad error from a kick off
Heighington lead our young forwards well

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Post by Yossarian » Sun 20 Mar, 2011 12:29 am

Personally I thought Lui was better than 7/10. He really held the attack together for long periods tonight.

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Post by willow » Sun 20 Mar, 2011 7:07 am

Thanks for the comments guys. I will try and watch the game again this arvo and amend player ratings if need be.

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Post by softlaw » Sun 20 Mar, 2011 7:35 am

Thanks as always Willow. Great to have your reports back!
Agree with everyone on Ayshford.
Also Galloways first 30 minutes were very good. Looked like he really wanted to step up and lead the young guys around. Quieter in his second stint though.
& while McKinnon did have a good game, supported the ball well in attack and made a good effort to stop that try I think he's far too slow these days to be a top flight fullback.

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Post by boonboon » Sun 20 Mar, 2011 8:30 am

Welcome back Willow and Thanks again for the great report. Strange how you see the game differently to others at the ground but I thought Galloway was below average again tonight and really needs to stand up and lead the pack - he didn't seem to be getting any momentum with the ball until the last 20 and the forwards in general while defending well I though really didn't do enough work in the first half with the ball - even on our first set the backs took every hit up

Overall though for the Tigers to win in the wet is fantastic i think before last year I hadn't seen us win a game in the wet since the 90s so a wet win just shows how far we have developed over the last year and a bit. I still have my doubts about McKinnon and Utai but both were solid this week

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Post by The Phantom » Sun 20 Mar, 2011 8:42 am

Welcome back Willow,I eagerly await your reports each week.

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Post by westTAHger » Sun 20 Mar, 2011 4:40 pm

thanks for the report.
pleasing to see the younger blokes go well.
big boost of confidence for team as the showed they can win without Liam, Bryce & Gareth in the pack. :sign:
Basil, our rescue dog, is wondering when wests tigers will win 25 - 18 :D

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Post by Sabre » Sun 20 Mar, 2011 4:41 pm

Tuqiri was closer to a 7.5-8 for mine

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Post by fulleightyminutes » Sun 20 Mar, 2011 5:08 pm

Willow, wasn't lucky enough to see the game last night, but really enjoyed your summary and analysis. Thanks for the hard work and thought.

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