Round 5: Willow's Match Report

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Kickoff: 7:35pm, Friday 8 April
Venue: Sydney Football Stadium
Telecast: Ch9 Live
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Willow's match report and player review

Post by willow » Fri 08 Apr, 2011 10:14 pm

Round 5 of the Telstra NRL premiership saw the Wests Tigers travel to the SFS to take on arch rivals the South Sydney for the first heritage round of the season. The Tigers entered this match with several key players still sitting on the sidelines due to injury, but they were boosted by the return of international backrower Gareth Ellis who returned from an ankle injury. This resulted in Alan Schirnack dropping back to the bench while young prop Aaron Woods returned to the Toyota Cup for this week.
South Sydney entered the match in a stronger position with a full strength side which included the return of international forward Sam Burgess. Souths were aiming for 3 straight wins heading into tonights match while the Tigers were coming off a defeat at the hands of the Sydney Roosters. The Tigers were again given little hope of winning this match given their injury toll, but just how the Tigers would respond was the question every Tigers fan wanted to know.

1st half:
The Tigers received the ball from kick off and kicked early on the third tackle to turn Souths around. They gave away an early penalty though as Keith Galloway tried to monster Sam Burgess. The Tigers held on in defence as Souths threw in a cross field kick but they knocked the ball on from the 20 metre re-start to put themselves under pressure early. Souths didn’t miss a beat as they broke the Tigers through Roy Asotasi who offloaded to Sandow to score near the posts. Sandow made no mistake with the conversion to leave the Tigers trailing 6-0 early. The Tigers were given a much needed penalty in the 6th minute just as Gareth Ellis was thumped by Asotasi. The Tigers were given another penalty just as Chris Heighington was caught short of the line to put more pressure on Souths. The Tigers almost scored a freakish try to Matt Utai as a Benji Marshall grubber kick sat up too sharply and high for the nuggety winger to pull in.

Souths again gained the ascendancy in the 11th minute as Chris Sandow attempted a 40/20 kick which left Wade McKinnon struggling to cover and McKinnon forced the ball over the sideline as he tried to keep it in play. The Tigers defence was up to the task this time as they forced Souths into error. Souths were pulled up for a forward pass inside their own half in the 14th minute just as they started to look threatening up the middle of the field. Benji Marshall then came up with a brilliant solo try from the scrum win as he showed the ball, jinked, jinked again and beat several defenders on a 50 metre run to the line to cross under the posts. He converted his own try to level the game at 6-6 after 17 minutes. Andrew Fifita entered the game in the 18th minute. Souths almost scored in the 19th minute but Mitch Brown did brilliantly to defuse a dangerous bomb.

A Benji Marshall chip kick in the 21st minute was well read by Souths and they attacked the Tigers inside their own half once more but came up with a mistake late in the tackle count to let the Tigers off the hook. Todd Payten entered the match in the 23rd minute. Benji Marshall put Simon Dwyer into a lovely hole in the 26th minute but he was desperately caught in a last ditch Souths tackle. Marshall threw a hard, fast cutout pass moments later which was destined for Matt Utai, but Marshall’s radar was amiss and the amount flew over the sideline as a chance went begging. Another Tigers chance went begging in the 29th minute as they caught Souths short down the blindside but Chris Heighington threw a forward pass to Blake Ayshford and was poleaxed in the process by Greg Inglis. Souths were given a penalty in the 30th minute to put them right on the attack in the Tigers danger zone. Souths again went to the air but came up short as they regathered a bomb but put in another kick which went dead.

Benji Marshall came up with a simple dropped ball in the 32nd to give Souths a cheap turnover just as they had a nice backline set. Fortunately for the Tigers Souths turned the ball over on the last tackle. The Tigers then punched Souths right up the middle of the field through Robbie Farah as he broke through the line, drew the fullback and offloaded to McKinnon in support who scored a lovely try. Marshall converted the try to put the Tigers in front at 12-6 just before halftime. Simon Dwyer unfortunately came up with a customary dropped ball on the halfway line from the next set to turn the ball over to Souths cheaply. Souths then cut the Tigers up the middle of the field through Chris Sandow and Rhys Wesser but they lost the ball on the next tackle as a long cutout pass was spilled by Talanoa. Benji Marshall then attempted a long range field goal from 45 metres out just on the stroke of halftime, it had the distance but was just waved away.

Best players for the Tigers in the first half were Benji Marshall, Robbie Farah and Keith Galloway while Matt Utai amd Mitch Brown were safe on the wings and Blake Ayshford was having a very good game in the centres. Jacob Miller and Al Schirnack were not used off the interchange bench in the first half. In a blow for the Tigers in-form prop Keith Galloway was ruled out of the match with a groin injury.

2nd half:
The Tigers kicked off to Souths to start the second half and came away with a 20 metre re-start after their first defensive set. Benji Marshall then regathered a bomb he put up in the 42nd minute but threw a flick pass back inside close to Souths line which Simon Dwyer could not reel in. Dwyer came up with a big hit in defence moments later. Wade McKinnon then did well to defuse a Souths grubber kick in the 43rd minute. An attempted 40/20 from Marshall in the same set was only just reeled in by Souths, but a great chase from Matt Utai resulted in Souths losing the ball over the sideline to give the Tigers their first good field position in the second half. The Tigers didn’t miss a beat as they scored a beautifully crafted try to Mitch Brown as the ball was spread from one side of the field to the other, with Tim Moltzen doing well throwing a great face ball for Brown to score in the corner. Marshall missed the sideline conversion to leave the score at 16-6 after 47 minutes.

Souths attempted a charge down from the re-start but luckily the Tigers re-gathered and scored a brilliant try as Benji Marshall again found a rampaging Simon Dwyer out wide who was too quick and strong for the cover defence to reel in. Marshall converted the try to extend the Tigers lead to 22-6. Sensing trouble, Souths threw their big gun forwards back into the match and nearly scored in the 52nd minute but the Tigers did very well to scramble and Mitch Brown did even better to get the ball back into the field of play. Matt Utai set off on a barnstorming run in the 53rd minute but also found out the true power of Greg Inglis as he hit him with the shoulder which sent him airborne and backwards. Souths then lost prop Luke Stuart to a head knock in the 54th minute. Blake Ayshford lost the ball in a strip by Inglis in the 55th minute just as the Tigers were starting to look dangerous again, Al Schirnack also got onto the field at this point. The Tigers were dealt a harsh blow in the 57th minute as they had the ball stripped one on one but regathered the ball only to be pushed over the sideline. Souths then bombed a try as Dave Taylor had the Tigers caught short on the blindside, Benji Marshall chased desperately but Taylor looked certain to score only to throw the ball over the sideline.

Souths were then given a penalty in the 60th minute to put them back inside the Tigers half. They compounded things further with another penalty moments later which forced them to defend their own line again. The Tigers defence was superb though as they scrambled very well. Jacob Miller took to the field in the 62nd minute while Gareth Ellis was given a breather. The Tigers were finally given a penalty of their own in the 63rd minute as Robbie Farah caught Souths markers out. They were given another penalty immediately as Sam Burgess lost his cool while tackling Simon Dwyer. Benji Marshall opted for a penalty goal which he kicked to put the Tigers lead out to 24-6 with 15 minutes remaining. Benji Marshall came up with his second dropped ball of the night from the re-start though to put the Tigers under pressure. The Tigers defence again stood tall as Jacob Miller rattled Chris Sandow in a solid tackle and then earnt the Tigers a penalty moments later.

The Tigers were given another penalty in the 68th minute as Tim Moltzen had the ball stolen in a 2 man tackle. This gave the Tigers great attacking position and Benji Marshall put Simon Dwyer in for his second try of the night as he threw a no-look flat pass to Dwyer who crashed over for a nice try. Marshall converted the try to blow the scoreline out to 30-6 with 10 minutes remaining. The Tigers were given a penalty in the 72nd minute after Mick Crocker took offense to Al Schirnack shoulder charging John Sutton. Marshall attempted his second field goal of the night but it was wide of the posts. Marshall then gave away a penalty as he crash tackled a rampaging Dave Taylor to the ground and copped 10 minutes in the sin bin for holding down too long in the tackle. Mitch Brown again defused another Souths cross field bomb in the 76th minute. A Tigers break started by Utai was unfortunately halted as Todd Payten juggled an awkward offload from Jacob Miller. Souths turned the ball over moments later however. The Tigers held on to record a very impressive 30-6 win.


Onto the players:

1. Wade McKinnon – Very good game once again tonight. Aside from a mistake in the first half where he knocked the ball over the sideline, he was dangerous all night with his running and support play and came up with a couple of try saving tackles. Scored a nice try supporting a Farah line break and looks to be really finding his feet now. 8/10.

2. Mitch Brown – Returned to form tonight in a very safe and solid display. Scored a try by finishing off a nice side to side Tigers backline movement but it was more his defusal of Souths bombs which impressed tonight. Also safe in defence. 8/10.

3. Blake Ayshford – Looked dangerous and strong in the first half but did not get as much quality ball in the second half. Still a good game overall and got the better of Greg Inglis who was kept fairly quiet. 7.5/10.

4. Geoff Daniela – Again, much improved from last week. Did not get many opportunities in attack, but he defended well and was safe all game. 7/10.

5. Matt Utai – Came up with a couple of handling errors but geez he went well again. Took a lot of stopping and despite copping a massive hit from Inglis, he kept going all night, beat plenty of tackles and made good metres. 8/10.

6. Benji Marshall – Came up with a couple of uncharacteristic handling errors but led the Tigers well tonight, scoring a great solo try and setting up Simon Dwyer for his double. His kicking game was pretty good as he turned Souths around well tonight. Earnt 10 in the bin for a professional foul, but it was worth it as he turned in another very good performance. 8.5/10.

7. Tim Moltzen – Looked better out there tonight as his involvement with the ball improved and he defended fairly well. Threw a nice pass for the Mitch Brown try and slowly but surely improving. 7/10.

8. Bryce Gibbs – Typical game from Gibbs tonight – Tough, no-nonsense and helped keep the ruck tight. Defended well and made decent metres in attack. Still not back to his best yet, but he’s well on the way. 8/10.

9. Robbie Farah – What a difference a week makes. Looked lethargic and timid last week but ripped in tonight with a very busy and crafty game. Defended well, set up Wade McKinnon for a nice try and led the Tigers well all night. Also kicked a few times and placed the ball well. 8/10.

10. Keith Galloway – Strong first half but unfortunately suffered a groin injury and did not play in the second half which was a shame. Hopefully the injury is not serious and it’s only a couple of weeks for the big fella. 6/10.

11. Simon Dwyer – Stepped up to the mark tonight with a very good game, scoring two great tries and lifting his workrate. Defended well and the only real blemishes were a couple of handling errors. Picked up channel 9 MOM award. 8/10.

18. Gareth Ellis – Great to have the big G back tonight and he was very good for his first match back from injury and second match of the season. Got whacked a couple of times with the ball in hand but ran strongly and defended well and was given a rest in the 62nd minute. 8/10.

13. Chris Heighington – Another solid game from Heighno but he was a little down in attack tonight. Defended well though and popped up all over the field making tackles. 7.5/10.

14. Jacob Miller – Got 18 minutes in the backend of the game and looked good, came up with a nice hit on Sandow and pounced on a loose ball and backed up a break made by Utai late in the game. Too hard to rate him accurately on the short minutes played.

15. Andrew Fifita – Better game than last week and straightened his attack up. He was quiet in attack in his first spell, but was very good in defence I thought, and his second spell was better in attack, he looked very enthusiastic out there tonight. 7.5/10.

16. Al Schirnack – Only came on late but got stuck in once again. Too hard to rate effectively on the few minutes played.

17. Todd Payten – Good game from Payten as he was busy in attack and defence. Helped keep the defence around the ruck tight and was decent in carting the ball up for the Tigers. 7.5/10

Player stats:
http://live.nrlstats.com/matches/nrl/match6414.html

Overall team analysis:

Attack:
Looked a lot like the Roosters match to start with, as passes were bouncing along the ground and not finding players but the match turned when Benji Marshall stepped his way through the Souths line to score. All of the Tigers tries tonight were well crafted and the backline movement was an improvement over last week. Farah was more prominent in attack which helped Marshall’s game and Moltzen looked more comfortable. The other added bonus was that both Daniela and Brown looked a lot more comfortable and confident and had strong games.

Defence:
The Tigers only conceded 1 try tonight and were forced to defend their line desperately on a few occasions tonight, but their defence came up trumps. The line speed, communication and commitment were all there to see which was great. Souths looked dangerous on several occasions as their big forwards got a roll on, but the Tigers always scrambled well to cover them. Out wide they numbered up well too.

Kicking game:
The kicking was pretty good tonight. While the Tigers did not force any line drop outs, they turned Souths around well all game. Marshall also had a good night with his goalkicking.

Team stats (Please refer to link below):
http://live.nrlstats.com/matches/nrl/match6414.html

An excellent turnaround from last week given the Tigers had a short turnaround and still have a host of players sitting on the sidelines, of which Keith Galloway is now the latest casualty. It was a very good performance from the Tigers and it was a thorough team effort with Benji Marshall continuing his excellent form and Robbie Farah also strong with a host of other Tigers players. Let’s see if the Tigers can take tonight’s excellent form up to the Gold Coast next Friday where they face an out-of-form Titans side.
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Post by Demps » Fri 08 Apr, 2011 10:21 pm

Sounds about right although I think Brown, Utai & Dwyer deserve +1 points
Payten seemed to be more of a 6 tonight, maybe its just me but he didn't look like he was involved much.

Also: LOL @ that pic of stupid Inglis
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Post by Leroy The Tigers Fan » Fri 08 Apr, 2011 10:34 pm

Well done Willow, while most of us are still basking in the win and firing in the odd comment you've come up with another great analisys, cheers.

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Post by TripleB » Fri 08 Apr, 2011 10:36 pm

Yeah, nice work Willow... I pretty much agree with all of your comments and ratings...

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Post by supercoach » Fri 08 Apr, 2011 10:46 pm

Kicking game was the difference, last week rubbish, this week quality. Its a very simple game dominate possession and field position and you will win in a canter no matter who is the other team


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Post by PYMBLEPETE » Fri 08 Apr, 2011 11:32 pm

Thanks for your report Willow; for almost all of it I think you are rigtht on the money. Only thing I would think needs adjusting is Moltzen; still a long long way from his best in my view and I cant see what he contributed in attack tonight.

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Post by Geo. » Fri 08 Apr, 2011 11:35 pm

Well he put Mitch Brown in for a try and lead the kick chase all night...

Thank for the report mate just like being there....
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Post by MightyMaggy » Fri 08 Apr, 2011 11:44 pm

Thanks Willow for a very good and accurate report, as always.

I thought our defence set up the win.

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Post by cunno » Fri 08 Apr, 2011 11:57 pm

Amongst a team of good players tonight, I thought Robbie Farah was fantastic, the bloke played his guts out and deserves top marks for effort, commitment and influence on the game. There were many other great efforts from WTs players, Benji for one, but it was great to see Robbie return to good form.

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Post by Brisbane Tiger » Sat 09 Apr, 2011 8:36 am

Spot on willow and cunno....

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Post by tigeress » Sat 09 Apr, 2011 2:30 pm

A great win by the team tonight, everyone put in their best effort, and came up with a fantastic win

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Post by Peaches » Sat 09 Apr, 2011 4:30 pm

Agreed Willow. We controlled the tempo of the game well tonight. Ran Souths around in the middle. Kicked long and had a good kick-chase all night led mostly by Moltzen and Marshall.

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Post by willow » Sat 09 Apr, 2011 7:30 pm

Some key stats to come out of the game:

McKinnon made 135 metres in attack;
Ayshford made 107 metres in attack plus 2 offloads;
Utai made 109 metres in attack, 7 tackle breaks and 4 offloads;
Marshall made 90 metres in attack, 1 line break, 4 tackle breaks, 2 line break assists and 2 try assists;
Gibbs made 116 metres in attack;
Farah made 115 metres in attack, 1 linebreak, 41 tackles and 1 try assist;
Dwyer made 161 metres in attack, 3 linebreaks, 7 tackle breaks and 34 tackles;
Heighington made 77 metres in attack and 40 tackle;
Fifita made 75 metres in attack and 32 tackles.

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Post by happy tiger » Sat 09 Apr, 2011 7:42 pm

willow wrote:Some key stats to come out of the game:

McKinnon made 135 metres in attack;
Ayshford made 107 metres in attack plus 2 offloads;
Utai made 109 metres in attack, 7 tackle breaks and 4 offloads;
Marshall made 90 metres in attack, 1 line break, 4 tackle breaks, 2 line break assists and 2 try assists;
Gibbs made 116 metres in attack;
Farah made 115 metres in attack, 1 linebreak, 41 tackles and 1 try assist;
Dwyer made 161 metres in attack, 3 linebreaks, 7 tackle breaks and 34 tackles;
Heighington made 77 metres in attack and 40 tackle;
Fifita made 75 metres in attack and 32 tackles.
Sorry Willow any idea of Benjis tackle count I reckon it would of been high teens probably in my opinion just about the best part of his game last night

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Post by willow » Sat 09 Apr, 2011 7:48 pm

14 tackles for Marshall mate.

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Post by cunno » Sat 09 Apr, 2011 7:48 pm

happy tiger wrote:
willow wrote:Some key stats to come out of the game:

McKinnon made 135 metres in attack;
Ayshford made 107 metres in attack plus 2 offloads;
Utai made 109 metres in attack, 7 tackle breaks and 4 offloads;
Marshall made 90 metres in attack, 1 line break, 4 tackle breaks, 2 line break assists and 2 try assists;
Gibbs made 116 metres in attack;
Farah made 115 metres in attack, 1 linebreak, 41 tackles and 1 try assist;
Dwyer made 161 metres in attack, 3 linebreaks, 7 tackle breaks and 34 tackles;
Heighington made 77 metres in attack and 40 tackle;
Fifita made 75 metres in attack and 32 tackles.
Sorry Willow any idea of Benjis tackle count I reckon it would of been high teens probably in my opinion just about the best part of his game last night
Loved the way Benji chased Taylor to the sideline leading to Taylor throwing a stupid pass and bombing a try.

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Post by happy tiger » Sat 09 Apr, 2011 7:52 pm

willow wrote:14 tackles for Marshall mate.
Thanks Willow great report mate Thought you were a little harsh on MacKinnon though if he doesn't play at that ball it was a 40-20 anyway

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