Battle plan for beating Benji Marshall

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Kickoff: 7:30 PM
Venue: Toyota Park, Cronulla
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Battle plan for beating Benji Marshall

Post by willow » Mon 05 Sep, 2011 10:26 am

Battle plan for beating Benji Marshall

Phil Rothfield, Sports Editor-at-large
From: The Daily Telegraph
September 05, 2011

HOW do you stop the mighty Wests Tigers?

Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah are in career-best form, Tim Moltzen is on fire, Robert Lui is playing as well as any halfback and they've now won eight in a row.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan invited Sports Editor-at-Large Phil Rothfield into the Cronulla camp to find out what it's like to prepare and play against the NRL’s most feared attacking outfit.


Stopping Benji

On Friday afternoon I meet Flanagan in the Sharks dressing sheds. He shows me the same tip sheet and edited video highlights that the players have seen.

It takes about 40 minutes and he starts on Benji.

"Benji's got four or five options on all the shapes. But there's structure to his game, too," Flanagan explains.

"I've got 10 video clips for our left edge and same for the right showing the different things he can do.

"If we're defending from our cage (inside their 20m line) we've got to get up off our line and make an up-and-in read.

"Gal's gotta take Benji, He's gotta travel with him and not stall on the bloke coming under him."

I interrupt to ask the obvious question. Won’t Benji just step him?

"He'll have Douglas or a middle forward looking after his inside shoulder. It will be covered.

"So Gal goes to Benji, Wade takes the lead runner, Besty jams on the bloke out the back and Hot Dog (John Williams) will jam the next one and we'll leave one over.

"If you stay square and everyone sticks we should handle him.

"Trouble with Benji if you defend one way, he'll attack another.

"If you go up-and-in he'll throw over the top to his winger or kick in behind you."

Overall plan

I ask how much of defence is technical and how much is
attitude?

"Working together and keeping in your systems is important," Flanagan explains.

"You can be a really good one-on-one defender but you've got to be able to work with the others.

"You've got to make good reads as much as you've got to
be brave.

"Most of the time if you turn up with a good attitude, you’re going to be a chance but they've got to have their minds on as well to stick to the system."

The other threats

Marshall, Farah, Moltzen and Lui are the main focus of the pre-game tapes.

But there's also an edited package on the forwards.

"Heighington's offloads, the Pommy (Gareth Ellis) offloads in the line, Gibbs won't offload," Flanagan points out.

"They played Monday night so I don’t think they'll change much.

"Tuesday recovery, Wednesday they would have done a bit of review, Thursday off, and they would have trained Friday.

"So I think their plan and their attack will be pretty similar to what we've seen and what we know."

Scrum ploy

On Friday afternoon when we were going over the tape, Flanagan shows a scrum ploy the Tigers have been successfully using for a couple of months to milk penalties.

From their own feed, one of the back-rowers uses his feet to hold the ball in the scrum for a couple of seconds, like a rugby union scrum or maul.

The opposition breaks early, moves up and by the time the Tigers have cleared the football, they're penalised for being offside.

The Sharks have a plan.

"If they try that we're going to shove and try to push them off the football," Flanagan explains.

Towards the end of the match, Cronulla are down by two.
A scrum is packed 40m from their own line. Robert Lui feeds. It's time for the shove.

The Sharks put on the big heave and successfully win possession against the feed, as planned.

Inexplicably, the referee calls it back because prop Luke Douglas breaks from the scrum too quickly.

It doesn't matter that front-rowers have been breaking quickly in every game for 26 rounds and not been penalised.

Again it highlights the appalling inconsistency of refereeing
this year.

Game day

I join Flanagan and his coaching staff in the box. This is where it gets exciting.

If it’s 15 degrees outside, the tension makes it feel 30 degrees inside.

So much for systems and everything Flanagan had spoken about 24 hours earlier.

The Tigers had two tries on the board to Moltzen and Farah in the first 10 minutes.

Flanagan is going ballistic. He throws his pen then grabs the walkie-talkie and sends a spray to Anthony Tupou, via the runner.

If I had a dollar for every swear word inside the coaching box, I'd have sufficient cash to retire.

I have a prior agreement with Flanagan not to run quotes when his emotions are raging and language that is too colourful for this newspaper anyway.

"Go and tell Wade (Graham) to make his tackles, put a rocket up Bomber (John Morris),: he says, "C'mon dee-up boys.

"Get in that touch-judge’s ear. Gibbs is off-side every play.
It’s a joke.

"C'mon Jez (Jeremy Smith) force a bloody error.

"Keep on Stapo (fullback Nathan Stapleton) to watch Marshall's 40/20 but if he drops back too far they'll shift the ball.

"Don't worry about Farah kicking, Millsy's covering that.’’

The Sharks fight back with tries to Williams and Mills. Flanagan is much happier but Lote Tuqiri scores before half-time.

Tigers lead 20-12 at the break.

"We haven’t got a penalty. Can you believe we’re playing a
perfect team," Flanagan says.

Second half

Sharks centre Dean Collis bombs a certain try.

Again Flanagan goes nuts but John Williams makes up for it and scores in the left corner a few minutes later.

"Look who’s doing the lead-up– it’s the forwards," he says.

"Where's my seven, where’s my six. Where’s my nine."

The Sharks' defence has improved. "We're now doing what we practised," Flanagan says.

The Cronulla mentor is now more worried about the attack.

"Hey, Elk (the trainer) go and bloody tell them not to try and solve problems on their own like Gal just did.

"Heads up and get some field position. They’ve got 19 minutes of their season left."

The Tigers are leading 26-18.

"I'd love 26-24 and we could have a little dabble at them in the last 10 minutes."

He sends a message out to get the ball to Gallen to attack Blake Ayshford on the left side, a suggestion from Toyota Cup coach James Shepherd who is also in the box.

"Hit that way and have Stapo on Gal's back for the pass."

But time runs out. Farah scores the match-winner, his third try and the Tigers win 30-22.

Cronulla’s season is over. The Tigers march on.

Now it's Wayne Bennett's turn to try to stop the juggernaut that is the Wests Tigers.


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Post by MacDougall » Mon 05 Sep, 2011 10:44 am

I have to admit, Flanagan had the Tigers pretty well read. If he had some better execution and a bit of luck he would have beat us from the coaches box. Impressive from him.

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Post by underdog » Mon 05 Sep, 2011 11:24 am

Flanagan is a great coach, and that read does show what he's capable of, however Our boys were pretty ordinary for most of the game, and due to the tough goal-kicking the scoreline did flatter the Sharks somewhat. the scoreline is 36-22 if Marshall hits all his conversions, and the sharks never look in it.

Rothfield is such a muppet though - I wonder if this article would have been printed if the Tigers had won 60-0?

I'd be very interested to see the "other side of the coin" aka - Sheens notes though...
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Post by alex » Mon 05 Sep, 2011 11:26 am

Very interesting reading and he seemed to be able to cover all our opportunities/weaknesses.

I think the difference between a rookie coach and an experienced coach lies in how they speak to their players. General statements like these don't mean a lot.

"Go and tell Wade (Graham) to make his tackles" and "C'mon Jez (Jeremy Smith) force a bloody error."

Anyone can say that. Specificity is always the best. If they know their players inside out they'll be able to analyse on a much deeper level and pick out the flaws in their game. Rather than "tell Wade to make his tackles", something like "make sure you tell Wade not to slide sideways" is much more effective.

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Post by cunno » Mon 05 Sep, 2011 11:46 am

Interesting read but the coach can only do so much and that is evident in the article. It must be difficult trying to anticipate what a team like the wests Tigers could do given the number of attacking options- love it, suck it up opposition.


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Post by happy tiger » Mon 05 Sep, 2011 11:59 am

Will Rothfield be doing stories like that on all the teams or has he picked on us
Because we kicked his teams ass
I think Lauire Daley summed it up perfectly on the night
He Said " When you think the Tigers are going to do one thing you can be guaranteed they will do the opposite "
Assuming only makes an ass out of u and me

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Post by stryker » Mon 05 Sep, 2011 2:38 pm

Interesting insights from an opposition coach. Great call that with the short turnaround nothing new would be tried. If he had the cattle he would have got us with that game plan.

I'm sure sheens will be working on certain areas.

You can neve really nail the tiges down though....most of the time we beat ourselves.

When you have a 5/8 and hooker who play whats in front of them, opposition game plans need to be very flexible.If we are on and theres plenty of runners for Marshal, Farah and Lui, I cant see any game plan, no matter how thoughtful, shutting our attack down.

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Post by Spartan117 » Mon 05 Sep, 2011 2:55 pm

Interesting insight into the world of a Head coach. Not as easy as it looks.

I am amazed at all the prep work that goes into each game and certain players.

Sharks gave our boys a run for their money on Saturday.

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Post by BeeJay » Mon 05 Sep, 2011 3:17 pm

Good Read..
very interesting to see the team broken down like that.
I'd also love to see what kind of preparation sheens does. Not only the insight in to how the tigers will handle the opposition but also what the plan is for the tigers players.

As others have said the telegraph have once again perpetuated their agenda against the Tigers with their "journalism"

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Post by senexx » Mon 05 Sep, 2011 3:29 pm

Maybe there is a telegraph agenda, I wouldn't know.

However, it is worthwhile taking note of the breakdown of our play/s given by Flanagan.
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Post by Balmain Bug » Mon 05 Sep, 2011 4:24 pm

Im not overly impressed by Rothfields interpretation of this synopsis.

If it is an accurate portrayal of Flano's plan its pretty average really. Benji can do almost everything and does almost everything, except passing off his left shoulder. Benji rarely if ever passes off his left shoulder as his first option is a left sidestep and that is foremost in his mind.
Flanagan allegedly says
"If we're defending from our cage (inside their 20m line) we've got to get up off our line and make an up-and-in read."
:lol:
Up and in ?? I seriously doubt any coach would try and go up and in on Benji on the left edge. He seriously smokes up and in defence and has been destroying it for years. But, he can slice sliding defence too with his left foot step or a runner coming through on his right.

The only way to defend Benji is with genuine line speed and accurate tackling technique. Contrary to belief, the thing with Benji is his great ability to break tackles. He is a tackle breaker. So the only way to try and nullify his effectiveness is good defensive technique.

Robbie Farah is almost unstoppable. The only time anyone ever comes close to stopping the best hooker in the world is again, line speed.

WT will have fresh unused plays for the semi's. Or rehashed ones that they have not used in yonks ready to go.

The only way to beat Wests Tigers is to bash them illegally, and to slow the ruck down to ridiculous proprtions.
Wests Tigers colours are Black, White & Orange. Balmain are Black & Orange. Wests Tigers are not Balmain. Please take note Wests Tigers CEO.

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Post by underdog » Mon 05 Sep, 2011 4:44 pm

Balmain Bug wrote:Im not overly impressed by Rothfields interpretation of this synopsis.

If it is an accurate portrayal of Flano's plan its pretty average really. Benji can do almost everything and does almost everything, except passing off his left shoulder. Benji rarely if ever passes off his left shoulder as his first option is a left sidestep and that is foremost in his mind.
Flanagan allegedly says
"If we're defending from our cage (inside their 20m line) we've got to get up off our line and make an up-and-in read."
:lol:
Up and in ?? I seriously doubt any coach would try and go up and in on Benji on the left edge. He seriously smokes up and in defence and has been destroying it for years. But, he can slice sliding defence too with his left foot step or a runner coming through on his right.

The only way to defend Benji is with genuine line speed and accurate tackling technique. Contrary to belief, the thing with Benji is his great ability to break tackles. He is a tackle breaker. So the only way to try and nullify his effectiveness is good defensive technique.

Robbie Farah is almost unstoppable. The only time anyone ever comes close to stopping the best hooker in the world is again, line speed.

WT will have fresh unused plays for the semi's. Or rehashed ones that they have not used in yonks ready to go.

The only way to beat Wests Tigers is to bash them illegally, and to slow the ruck down to ridiculous proprtions.
This.

Gallen whinges at the press conference that they copped bad calls..

We copped a home crowd penalty count against our lads. For a team that has been one of the cleanest in the comp (our boys) to all of a sudden cop a hammering in the penalties is... "interesting" to say the least.
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