Round 3: Willow's Match Report

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Kickoff: 7:30pm, Saturday 26 March
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Telecast: FOX Sports 2
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Willow's match report and player review

Post by willow » Sat 26 Mar, 2011 11:25 pm

Round 3 of the Telstra NRL premiership saw the Wests Tigers return to Campbelltown Stadium for their first home match of the season there to take on the Canberra Raiders in a grudge match where both teams were hoping to build on a steady start to the season. The Tigers were looking to build on a scrappy, but important win against the New Zealand Warriors in round 2 while the Raiders were surprised by the Broncos at home and were looking to rebound hard and fast against the Tigers. The Tigers again entered the match minus a host of star players in Gareth Ellis, Bryce Gibbs and Liam Fulton while the Raiders were boosted by the return of dangerous fullback Josh Dugan and prop Brett White. The Tigers boasted one positional change with Alan Schirnack starting in the second row and Todd Payten dropping back to the bench.
Could the Tigers maintain their recent good form against the Raiders, or would the green machine take some revenge on the Tigers for being knocked out in last year’s finals series?

1st half:

The Raiders kicked off to the Tigers and the Tigers were nearly staring down the barrel of an intercept as Matt Orford failed to gather the ball in early as Benji Marshall looked to throw a late pass. The Tigers received an early penalty moments later which enabled them to get out of their own half but the ball was dropped by Chris Heighington on the first tackle. The Raiders reciprocated moments later as they lost the ball in a strong Tigers tackle. The Tigers again turned the ball over cheaply through Lote Tuqiri as they spread the ball from right to left in a promising backline movement which had the Raiders caught short. Matt Utai earnt the Tigers a penalty in the 5th minute as he was caught high in running the ball out from the Tigers try line. An awkward bomb put up by Robbie Farah in the 8th minute was spilled by Daniel Vidot who was then flattened by Keith Galloway rushing through and the Tigers had a good early chance to open the scoring against the Raiders. They didn’t miss a beat as Benji Marshall combined brilliantly with Chris Lawrence in a deceptive show involving Lote Tuqiri to put Lawrence in out wide. Marshall converted the try to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead after 10 minutes.

A forward pass from the Raiders on the last tackle in the 12th minute turned the ball over to the Tigers 35 metres out from their own line however they were also picked up for a forward pass moments later between Farah and Heighington. The Tigers then gave away a penalty shortly after to give the Raiders good field position deep inside the Tigers half. The Raiders received another penalty right on the Tigers line in the 14th minute to put their defence under all sorts of pressure. The Raiders finally cracked the Tigers out wide as the Tigers outside backs rushed up but were beaten back on the inside by Daniel Vidot. The try was not converted to leave the Tigers in front at 6-4 after 16 minutes. The Raiders were awarded their 3rd penalty in a row from the re-start as some ill-discipline crept into the Tigers defence and the Raiders looked to continue their surge. The Raiders came up with an error in the 18th minute however, letting the Tigers off the hook. A well placed grubber kick from Marshall on the last tackle in the 19th minute forced the Raiders in-goal and a line drop –out was the result.

Tim Moltzen entered the match in the 20th minute as the Tigers looked to step up their attack and again it was good work by the Tigers to force a second line drop out from the Raiders. The Tigers couldn’t crack the Raiders defence, but again they forced another line drop out, making the Raiders work hard in defence. Todd Payten and Aaron Woods both entered the game at this point. Benji Marshall again showed his class in the 24th minute as he put Matt Utai in for his first try of the season as he again showed great footwork and vision and threw a brilliant pass for Utai to score in the corner – It was poetry in motion. Marshall just shaved the upright of the posts as he narrowly missed the sideline conversion to give the Tigers a 10-4 lead after 27 minutes.

Rob Lui came up with a nice touch finder from the re-start, making the Raiders work the ball out of their own half. The Tigers were harshly penalised in the 30th minute as Aaron Woods had his hands on the ball while making a tackle deep inside the Raiders half. The Raiders came up with another forward pass moments later though to let the Tigers off the hook. From the scrum win Chris Lawrence came up with a nice run to put Wade Mckinnon into space and the Tigers were given a penalty from the next play to put them deep inside the Raiders half. Chris Lawrence looked to score his second try of the match as he showed great strength in a solid run towards the line. It went upstairs to the video ref and was ruled no try- held up. The Tigers failed to crack the raiders on this occasion as they managed to come away with the ball from deep inside their own half, although they came up with yet another forward pass 25 metres out from their own line with 5 minutes remaining in the first half. Rob Lui then took on the line himself and crossed in the 35th minute to extend the Tigers lead and Benji Marshall converted the try to make the score 16-4 just before halftime.

Matt Utai went for a chip and chase on the last tackle from the re-start and was taken out in the process, earning the Tigers a penalty just before halftime and one last chance to attack the Raiders line. The Raiders held on this time though and the Tigers went to the sheds at halftime leading 16-4.

Best players for the Tigers in the first half were Benji Marshall, Keith Galloway and Chris Lawrence. Matt Utai, Todd Payten and Aaron Woods were also strong. Possession heavily favoured the Tigers, as did offloads. As long as the Tigers could maintain a good completion rate and play smart football, they should prove too strong for a fumbling Raiders outfit.


2nd half:

The Tigers kicked off to the Raiders and gave away an early penalty to let the Raiders out of their own half but to the Tigers credit their defence held. Benji Marshall combined well with Moltzen and Utai who turned the defence inside out and almost scored only to be chopped down just short of the line. From the next play the Tigers spread the ball from right to left and looked set to score through Lawrence only for the Raiders to desperately knock the ball down but give the Tigers another chance. The Tigers then received a penalty as the ball was stripped from Aaron Woods on the Raiders line. Unusually they opted for the 2 points which Benji Marshall made no mistake with, extending the score to 18-4 after 45 minutes. Matt Orford came up with a shocking kick out on the full in the 47th minute to give the Tigers another good attacking chance inside the Raiders half. The Tigers turned the ball over through Chris Heighington to let the Raiders off the hook. A promising attacking raid from Canberra moments later was again fumbled one the last pass to give the ball back to the Tigers.

The Tigers were then given a piggyback penalty in the 49th minute to put them back on the attack inside the Raiders half. Aaron Woods went close to scoring in the 50th minute but the Tigers lost the ball after he was tackled. The Raiders then went length of the field to score from the scrum win as he brushed off both Chris Lawrence and Blake Ayshford who are normally strong defenders. The try was converted to put the Raiders back in the game at 18-10 after 53 minutes. Lote Tuqiri also left the field for the Tigers with a suspect broken forearm. Fortunately for the Tigers the Raiders lost the ball from the re-start just as they started to look dangerous in the middle of the field. The Raiders touched the ball during the Tigers set to give them 6 more tackles and they made them pay through Chris Heighington as he scored out wide to extend the Tigers lead once again. Marshall missed the conversion to leave the score at 22-10 with 22 minutes remaining.

From the re-start the Raiders gave away a penalty to let the Tigers out of their half all too easily. The Tigers then came up with a brilliant try to Blake Ayshford after a strong run from Chris Heighington was him break through the line, stumble, get to his feet and offload before the ball was spread from Farah to Todd Payten who came up with a Marshall-like flick pass to Benji himself, who again showed great vision to throw a lovely cut-out pass to Ayshford who did very well to cross mid-air in the corner. Marshall shanked the kick in a massive way as he struck the ground first to miss the conversion. The scoreline now read 26-10 after 59 minutes. Marshall made amends on the next set of 6 as he came up with a 40-20 kick. The Tigers were unable to score though as a Simon Dwyer came up with an offload which Bronson Harrison dived on. The Tigers were given a penalty right in front of the posts as Andrew Fifita was hit high. They again opted for the 2 points and Marshall made contact with the ball instead of the ground to extend the score to 28-10 with 15 minutes remaining.

Andrew Fifita then set the crowd alight in the 68th minute as he scored a long range try after Matt Utai lost the ball backwards in the 3 man tackle and Tim Moltzen then promptly scooped the ball up to a flying Fifita who beat two defenders including Josh Dugan in a 50 metre run to the line. Marshall landed the sideline conversion to extend the Tigers lead to 34-10 with 10 minutes remaining. Simon Dwyer coughed the ball up on the next set though to give the Raiders a s good a chance as any to score a late try. Blake Ferguson then scored his second try as he showed great strength to hold off Tim Moltzen and Rob Lui. The try was not converted to keep the score at 34-14. The Raiders again looked dangerous in attack from the re-start as Keith Galloway and Tom Leahroyd-Lars shaped up to each other, but they lost the ball once again. Chris Lawrence was then injured from the scrum win as he looked to seriously injure his knee or possibly hip. The Tigers lost the ball on the next tackle as Rob Lui dropped a simple pass as their backline took a major reshuffle. The Raiders scored another try this time through Josh Dugan in the 75th minute as he took a well placed cross field kick. The try was converted to bridge the gap to 34-20. The Raiders again scored in the 78th minute through Blake Ferguson as the Raiders came up with an intercept try. Ferguson had too much pace and strength for Wade Mckinnon as he pushed him away with ease. Croker missed the conversion to leave the score at 34-24 and that’s how it finished up.

Apart from some late, soft tries to the Raiders, the Tigers played well, but the big news were the injuries sustained to Lote Tuqiri and Chris Lawrence.

Onto the players:

1. Wade McKinnon – Solid first half, sniffing around the ruck and started to look a bit more dangerous with good gametime under his belt. Safe at the back but struggled in defence in the second half as Blake Ferguson showed what a strong, quality player he is in bumping off McKinnon with ease. Not a bad game overall from Wade though. 6.5/10.

2. Lote Tuqiri – Came up with a couple of decent runs in the first half and was untroubled in defence but in a major blow for the Tigers, he left the field in the second half with a suspected broken forearm. 6.5/10.

3. Blake Ayshford – Had a couple of strong runs in the first half but was not put into open space and defensively he was good except for one bad miss on Ferguson which led to a length of the field try and it should be noted that Lawrence was also brushed aside in the same play. He did score a very nice try of his own though. 7/10.

4. Chris Lawrence – Strong first half scoring one try and nearly scoring another, further strengthening his chance to play representative football this season, however his chances were dealt a huge blow late in the match when he suffered a nasty looking hip injury which left him writhing in pain on the ground. It was terrible luck for Lawrence as he otherwise had a strong game apart from a bad miss on Blake Ferguson which led to a Raiders try. 7.5/10.

5. Matt Utai – Scored his first try for the Tigers in the first half and came up with several strong runs once again. He was also hit high twice which earnt the Tigers penalties and was once again powerful. Defensively he was tested a couple of times in the second half when the Raiders looked to get on the outside of him, but he handled himself well tonight. 7.5/10.

6. Benji Marshall – The standout player for the Tigers in the first half as his elusive running and brilliant passing game caused the Raiders all sorts of problems. Again he was dangerous in the second half and threw a lovely pass for Ayshford to score in the corner. Goalkicking was hit and miss and his general kicking was improved tonight with a great 40/20 in the second half. His passing game tonight was brilliant at times though. 8.5/10.

7. Rob Lui – Took a backseat to Marshall in the first half but started to inject himself late in the first half as he took the Raiders defensive line on the score a try. Again took a backseat in the second half but defensively he was fine. 6.5/10.

16. Andrew Fifita – Busy start to the game and beat plenty of tackles, but needs to work on his leg drive as he hits the defensive line. His second stint was much more effective though as he hit the line harder and scored a most remarkable 50 metre try to bring the crowd to their feet. 8/10.

9. Robbie Farah – Pretty good first half, offering slick service out of dummyhalf and looked to threaten the Raiders line on a couple of occasions. Defensively very busy as usual and gave the Tigers good structure in attack all night. 7/10.

10. Keith Galloway – Strong opening to the game with some great defence and solid running. Got the better of David Shillington and Tom Leahroyd-Lars early on and didn’t let up in the second half he again proved a dominant force to be reckoned with. 8/10.

11. Simon Dwyer – Pretty quiet in the first half with not a lot of ball coming his way but he looked to number up well in defence. He threatened a couple of times out wide in the second half but couldn’t quite land the killer blow with an offload to score a try or break through the line himself. 6.5/10.

17. Al Schirnack – Pretty quiet in the first half and placed on report for what was supposed to be a high tackle but replays suggested otherwise. His second stint wasn’t much more effective although he hits hard in defence and deserves more minutes as he clearly has good fitness. 6/10.

13. Chris Heighington – Busy first half in attack and defence and was one of the Tigers better players again. His second half was rewarded with some strong runs as well as a try. His offloading was again a highlight but he was beaten several times in defence. 8/10.

14. Tim Moltzen – Looked to play in several positions tonight, including wing, centre and fullback. Didn’t get a chance to truly involve himself in attack and defensively he looked ok apart from being pushed off by Ferguson late in the game, although he was pretty much unstoppable once Tuqiri left the field for the Tigers. Could find himself starting in the centres next week. 6/10.

15. Aaron Woods – Wow, can this kid play! Got through a massive amount of work in attack and defence and does not look out of place at all. He really could be anything with the way he is continuing to improve. One of the Tigers best forwards tonight. 8/10.

12. Todd Payten – Strong 250th game from Todd as he came up with some nice straight, hard running, defended well and showed great hands in the lead up to the Ayshford try with a lovely flick pass. 7.5/10.

16. Jason Schirnack – Only came on late in the game which was a little surprising given he’s a backrower, but hey, it’s Sheens. Too hard to rate the young fella properly.

Player stats:
http://live.nrlstats.com/matches/nrl/match6218.html
These stats will be updated tomorrow, but some key stats to take note of:
• Matt Utai making 144 metres in attack in the backs;
• Benji Marshall racking up 3 try assists;
• Andrew Fifita making 140 metres in attack including a 50 metre try, he also racked up 10 tackle breaks;
• Keith Galloway making 116 metres in attack;
• Chris Heighington making 119 metres in attack, scoring 1 try, making 7 tackle breaks plus a couple of offloads; and
• Aaron Woods making 120 metres in attack.

Overall team analysis:

Much better than round 2, with the execution improving noticeably and the team controlled the game very well except for the last 10 minutes where injury played havoc with the side and the Raiders scored some soft tries late.

Attack:

Very good in the plays leading up to Tiger tries. Benji Marshall was at his best with his passing game and sleight of hand which bamboozled the Raiders defence. The Tigers controlled the ball well tonight and controlled the game from the outset really. Marshall, Lawrence, Utai and Ayshford were all strong in the backs while the forwards were led well by Galloway, Heighington, Woods, Fifita and Payten. Farah while not overly prominent kept the Tigers on the front foot all night with slick work from dummyhalf.

Defence:

Pretty good overall but the Tigers were not forced to do a lot of defending. They became vulnerable on their left side after Tuqiri left the field and Blake Ferguson came into his own scoring a hattrick and making Lawrence, Ayshford, Moltzen and McKinnon look ordinary in the process. This would be of some concern to Sheens as he will need to come up with a new left edge defence for the next couple of months one would imagine.

Kicking game:

A big improvement tonight as the Tigers forced 3 line drop outs in the first half through grubber kicks and really didn’t give the Raiders any cheap metres through poor kicking. Marshall, Lui and Farah were all effective when they kicked.

Team stats (Please refer to link below):
http://live.nrlstats.com/matches/nrl/match6218.html

Overall the Tigers were a step up from last week in attack and ball control and they did an excellent job of starving the Raiders of quality ball. The Raiders were scrappy but the Tigers defence, excluding the last 10 minutes when Ferguson cut loose, was good. The major talking points though are undoubtedly the injuries suffered to Lawrence and Tuqiri, and just who will fill the Tigers left edge will prove contentious and difficult given the calibre of players Rowdy and Tuqiri are.

Next week will prove to be a very tough match for the Tigers as they clash with the Sydney Roosters at the SFS in what shapes as another tough match as these two sides are developing a good rivalry in a battle of east meets west.
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Post by happy tiger » Sat 26 Mar, 2011 11:31 pm

Willow Great stuff again !! if you take out Benjis goal kicking he was a 9 imo All others on the mark Aaron Woods is a superstar in the making

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Post by Spartan117 » Sat 26 Mar, 2011 11:34 pm

Thx Willow

Didnt know anything about the game till a few mins ago.

Injuries out wide sound bad.
UTT - Up The Tigers

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Post by steven_tiger » Sat 26 Mar, 2011 11:40 pm

Nice one Willow.

Poor Lawry! That photo is sad to see.
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Post by Geo. » Sat 26 Mar, 2011 11:44 pm

Great report mate

Wests tigers are certainly showing character this year....reckon you could find another .5 of a pont for Ayshford though very impressive once again....
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Post by Spartan117 » Sat 26 Mar, 2011 11:55 pm

UTT - Up The Tigers

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Post by DB1 » Sun 27 Mar, 2011 12:19 am

Always a good read Wllow.
How you manage to write it up so fast with an injury I'll never know

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Post by willow » Sun 27 Mar, 2011 11:06 am

The overall player and team stats have now been updated, some key stats to take note of:

Matt Utai making 148 metres in attack in the backs;
Blake Ayshford made 106 metres in attack;
Benji Marshall racking up 3 try assists;
Andrew Fifita making 135 metres in attack including a 50 metre try, he also racked up 10 tackle breaks and 23 tackles;
Keith Galloway making 125 metres in attack;
Chris Heighington making 117 metres in attack, scoring 1 try, making 8 tackle breaks plus a couple of offloads; and
Aaron Woods making 121 metres in attack.

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Post by smeghead » Sun 27 Mar, 2011 2:50 pm

Dwyer a higher rating than Schirnack Willow? Turn it up.

Al got stuck running alot of decoys and it was his defensive pressure that bought about early mistakes. I didn't even know Dwyer was there until the 30th minute
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Post by SCOB » Sun 27 Mar, 2011 3:29 pm

Thanks willow good read.

Woods the new Skando?
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Post by huntertiger » Sun 27 Mar, 2011 3:35 pm

Thanks Willow great precise read as usual..

Injuries are not good let's hope for a positive outcome

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Post by willow » Sun 27 Mar, 2011 5:11 pm

smeghead wrote:Dwyer a higher rating than Schirnack Willow? Turn it up.

Al got stuck running alot of decoys and it was his defensive pressure that bought about early mistakes. I didn't even know Dwyer was there until the 30th minute
Mate I was looking hard for Schirnack because I thought he was under-used against the Warriors and I was hoping he would get more of a go against the Raiders but I could barely notice him out there. Based on what i saw Dwyer was more effective - just.

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Post by smeghead » Sun 27 Mar, 2011 6:23 pm

I watched the replay this afternoon to see if I could see where you are coming from but we will agree to disagree on this one
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