Willow's game and player wrap

Kickoff: Friday 9 March 7:30PM
Venue:Bluetongue Stadium
Telecast: Ch9
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Willow's game and player wrap

Post by willow » Fri 09 Mar, 2012 10:54 pm

Round 2 of the Telstra NRL premiership saw the Wests Tigers travel to Bluetongue Stadium at Gosford to take on last year’s premiers the Manly Sea Eagles. Both sides were coming off a short turnaround and faced injury concerns. Manly were without Steve Matai and Glenn Stewart while the Tigers were missing James Tedesco and Keith Galloway, with several other players carrying niggling injuries into the game.

While the Tigers worked their way into the game and took a handy 8-2 lead at halftime, they lost Gareth Ellis from the re-start in the second half and were simply blown away by Manly in the first 15 minutes as they looked lethargic and failed to control the ball. This allowed Manly to turn an 8-2 deficit into a 22-8 lead. In typical Tigers fashion they mounted a late comeback and scored some good tries, but it was too little too late as poor ball control and one on one missed tackles cost them 12 points and ultimately the game.

It was an improvement over round 1, I’ll say that much. The Tigers forwards took a little while to get going, but Aaron Woods was strong early, Matt Groat was busy, as were Chris Heighington and Gareth Ellis, although Ellis came up some poor misses in defence. Adam Blair looked quiet, but ultimately he was the first try scorer for the Tigers as he ran into a great hole off a no look pass from Marshall after Chris Lawrence created a beautiful decoy.

There still wasn’t a lot to write home about in the Tigers backline though in the first half. Moltzen didn’t do a great deal and Beau Ryan, Blake Ayshford, Chris Lawrence and Matt Utai had limited opportunities, and Utai was a mixed bag with some strong runs coupled with some poor handling.

I’ll also pay tribute to Ben Murdoch-Masila and Junior Moors who both added good impact off the bench and were strong in running the ball. Given the Tigers injury concerns, both players should hold their spots for next week.

The first 20 minutes of the second half was abysmal as the Tigers ball control was non-existent and this put too much pressure on their defence, which also was weaker than the first half. The Tigers finally came to life in the last 15 minutes as the attack suddenly started to make inroads into the Manly defence. Marshall was dangerous, Blake Ayshford started to make some incisive runs out wide and Chris Lawrence and Matt Utai also looked dangerous on the Tigers left edge. Tom Humble also looked more dangerous playing up in the line than he was in returning the ball from fullback. Late tries to Beau Ryan who had a solid game, and Joel Reddy brought respectability to the score line, but a poor opening to the second half killed any chance the Tigers had. Fix up the completions and the Tigers will win more than they’ll lose – this is the key moving forward from tonight.

It was pretty strong in the first half, holding Manly out with only a couple of poor misses really allowing the Sea Eagles to look dangerous. Gareth Ellis missed a couple of clangers which was unfortunate. Matt Utai was also guilty of missing some tackles in the first half while noted defenders Robbie Farah and Chris Lawrence were both beaten one on one and Manly scored both times, although with respect to Farah, he was trampled by 120kg Tony Williams. Still, it wasn’t good enough as this proved to be the difference between the two sides at the end of the night.

Farah topped the tackle count while Matt Groat, Aaron Woods and Chris Heighington were all busy in defence while Chris Lawrence was strong in defence out wide bar one bad miss which cost the Tigers 6 points.

There’s still room for plenty of improvement in defence though. The Tigers attacking and defensive structure still looks like they’re working out the kinks.

Kicking game:
Not real flash tonight. No line drop outs forced and the Tigers attacking grubber kicks were either too long or didn’t find their mark, with Beau Ryan proving to be the exception scoring off a Marshall grubber kick in the second half. It was a similar story with the bombs, there were chasers and they had their chances, but couldn’t execute. The long kicking game wasn’t great with too many kicks finding Manly’s back three while the occasional kick found the sideline. The Tigers certainly didn’t build any pressure with their kicking game and this needs to change if they’re going to threaten for the title.

Onto the players:

1. Tom Humble – His positioning at the back needs to improve based on what I saw tonight. Too many kicks found the grass, and when he finally took one on the full in the second half, he knocked it on. It wasn’t a bad game, but I’m not sure he’s the best answer. I thought he looked better up in the line late in the game where he showed some decent ball skills. Came up with a try saver on Tony Williams in the first half.

75 metres in attack, 3 tackle breaks, 1 line break , 2 offloads, 4 tackles, 1 missed tackle, 1 error.

2. Beau Ryan – Had a solid and safe game but didn’t get as much ball as last week. Scored another try to get the Tigers back into the match in the second half. Looks a little quicker than last year too.

61 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 tackle break, 1 offload, 3 tackles.

3. Blake Ayshford – Had a better game than last week, although he’s still capable of better, which we’ll hopefully see once the Tigers attack starts to settle and they find some rhythm in their game. Barely sighted in the first half but made a couple of incisive runs in the second half when the Tigers mounted their comeback. Defensively he was stronger too.

79 metres in attack, 4 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 17 tackles.

4. Chris Lawrence – Like Ayshford, he was noticeably better tonight. Defensively he was very strong in the first half, but he’ll be disappointed with his poor miss on Cherry-Evans in the second half when he raced 70 metres to score a try which broke the Tigers back. Attackwise he still isn’t getting great ball, he did well in the second half to throw a pass back in field for Reddy to score from, and he did very well in drawing a couple of defenders for Blair’s try in the first half. I wish he had a genuine speedster outside him, as Utai is simply too slow to take advantage of overlaps out wide. Please come back soon Lote, or give Koroibete a run outside Rowdy. Looking forward to seeing him play against the Dragons next week.

70 metres in attack, 1 try assist, 1 line break assist, 20 tackles, 2 missed tackles, 1 error.

5. Matt Utai – Very hit and miss. Comes up with some strong, bullocking runs but then he drops the ball cold and puts you under all sorts of pressure. He’s not a winger, of that I am sure. He’s too slow to go around anyone, and he’s too short to contest kicks, and his defensive reads out wide are not good. He does offer genuine impact off the bench but early reports suggest he’ll be missing for a few weeks.

118 metres in attack, 10 tackle breaks, 1 line break, 1 offload, 2 tackles, 3 missed tackles, 1 error.

6. Benji Marshall – Not as prominent tonight as he was last week which was a shame as his first run was dangerous and suggested he was up for a big one. His passing was generally good, but at times his runners looked a bit confused and his kicking game was not as good as it was last week. Still one of the Tigers better players, but I felt he needed to take the line on more to throw more hesitation into the Manly defence.

37 metres in attack, 5 tackle breaks, 1 line break assist, 2 try assists, 3 goals, 1 offload, 13 tackles, 5 missed tackles, 1 error.

7. Tim Moltzen –Two games in and not thrilling me at half so far. Not doing a whole lot of organising which is leaving it all to Marshall and Farah to do and he needs to step up in this regard to give the Tigers more options in attack. Kicked long a couple of times but it was nothing special and he didn’t do a lot of running. Defensively he was alright.

59 metres in attack, 1 line break assist, 3 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 18 tackles, 3 missed tackles.

13. Chris Heighington – Another solid game from Heighno tonight, couldn’t fault his effort or anything he did really.

100 metres in attack, 1 offload, 33 tackles, 1 missed tackle.

12. Gareth Ellis – Looks set to miss a week judging from the pain on his face from the cork he copped at the start of the second half. Gaz was a bit hit and miss I thought. Missed a bad tackle on Tony Williams in the first half which resulted in a 50 metre break but some of his runs were strong. As much as I’d like to see him play next week, I reckon he’ll miss at least 1 or maybe 2 weeks. Hopefully he’ll freshen up in this time.

91 metres in attack, 1 offload, 14 tackles, 2 missed tackles, 2 errors.

11. Adam Blair – Scored a nice try but overall I was disappointed. Didn’t do a lot in attack and was pretty quiet in defence too. I expect more from a player of his calibre and with Ellis likely to be missing next week, he needs to step up. Missing an alarming amount of tackles so far too.

52 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 line break, 2 tackle breaks, 2 offloads, 23 tackles, 6 missed tackles, 1 error.

10. Matt Groat – Had a decent game starting alongside Woods tonight. Doesn’t have the same go forward as Aaron, but he got through a lot of defence, and I need to step back and remember that both he and Woods are still only 20 years old and babies as far as front rowers go.

49 metres in attack, 1 tackle break, 32tackles, 1 missed tackle.

9. Robbie Farah – He’s a tough little bugger taking to the field with 2 black eyes and a broken nose, but at the end of the day he’s not playing at his best at the moment and still looks like he’ll need another couple of weeks to hit his straps. Got through plenty of work in defence although it was sad to see him isolated by T-Rexx and trampled close to the line. He needed more support at that stage and didn’t get it. His kicking game close to the line was off too unfortunately.

54 metres in attack, 1 line break assist, 1 offload, 54 tackles, 3 missed tackles, 2 errors.

8. Aaron Woods – Impressed again tonight. Has a knack of standing in tackles and still moving forward and it’s excellent to see. One of the Tigers better players tonight.

73 metres in attack, 1 tackle break, 38 tackles, 4 missed tackles.

14. Liam Fulton – Didn’t get on until the second half and unfortunately came up with a couple of errors, dropping the ball once and throwing an intercept at the death. Got through plenty of defence in the middle of the field.

44 metres in attack, 1 tackle break, 20 tackles, 3 errors.

15. Junior Moors – Keep him there next week. Moors was strong off the bench, going forward well in attack and gave some added impact which was good to see. Definitely leaner and fitter than last year and has clearly had a strong off-season. Good effort.

92 metres in attack, 2 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 7 tackles.

17. Joel Reddy – Came on late at fullback and scored a try and threw a desperation pass at the end which Manly dived on. I’d still be inclined to run him at fullback next week and revert Humble to the utility role. I think Reddy’s extra size and height at the back will be beneficial whereas Humble looks more dangerous floating around the halves up in the line.

24 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 offload, 1 error.

18. Ben Murdoch-Masila – I had my doubts about him tonight as he had looked off the pace in the trial matches, but I was glad to be proved wrong tonight as he ran with plenty of venom and looked busy out there and with the impact he offers, I’d have him on the bench again next week as he’s sure to improve with conditioning and confidence.

72 metres in attack, 2 tackle breaks, 10 tackles.

Overall team stats (Manly in brackets):

Try assists: 3 (1)
Offloads: 11 (3)
Line breaks: 3 (4)
Line break assists: 3 (3)
Tackles made: 308 (270)
1 on 1 tackles: 30 (21)
Missed tackles: 33 (33)
Tackle breaks: 36 (34)
Total metres made: 1223 (1326)
Possession: 47% (53%)
Completion rate: 24/35 = 69% (32/40 = 80%)
Errors: 12 (9)
Penalties conceded: 6 (7)

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Post by NJLM78 » Fri 09 Mar, 2012 11:15 pm

Great work Willow. An excellent summary of the game and player performance.

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Post by Montague Street » Fri 09 Mar, 2012 11:27 pm

Excellent review. The stats tell us a lot. Manly won off the back of slightly more possession and a slightly better completion rate.

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Post by Long Distance Tiger » Fri 09 Mar, 2012 11:38 pm

Thanks Willow. A great report

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Post by Paris Cobbs » Sat 10 Mar, 2012 8:16 am

Thanks Willow. I was not able to see the game, so your report is invaluable to me.
Cheering for the mighty Wests Tigers, all the way from France.

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Post by Tigerdave » Sat 10 Mar, 2012 9:34 am

Thanks Willow.

Things have improved since last week and they really improved in the final 15 minutes of that game, I hope the improving trend continues.

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Post by willow » Sat 10 Mar, 2012 11:32 am

Player and team stats have been updated.

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Post by clifferdSH » Sat 10 Mar, 2012 11:47 am

Great wrap up Willow. Thanks

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Post by fulleightyminutes » Sat 10 Mar, 2012 11:54 am

Excellent thoughtful wrap. Thanks. I thought Adam Blair stepped up his game when Ellis went off. I may have imagined it but he seemed to scramble a lot more in defence, which I hoped was a good sign for him taking more of a leadership role within the forwards. But, maybe I just wanted it to be true!

Any news on when/if Roarcast is coming back?

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Post by willow » Sat 10 Mar, 2012 12:07 pm

fulleightyminutes wrote:Excellent thoughtful wrap. Thanks. I thought Adam Blair stepped up his game when Ellis went off. I may have imagined it but he seemed to scramble a lot more in defence, which I hoped was a good sign for him taking more of a leadership role within the forwards. But, maybe I just wanted it to be true!

Any news on when/if Roarcast is coming back?
Unfortunately there will be no roarcast this year, Kul has too many commitments on, and I've got a baby who likes to have a good yell in the evening which won't make for good background noise.

Back to the stats though, the Tigers got their completion rate up to almost 70%, which is a decent improvement from 56% against Cronulla, but Manly completed at 80%, and obviously the opening to the second half is where the Tigers lost it.

In the scheme of things, they were not at their best, missed a couple of one on one tackles and took a couple of wrong options and only went down by 4 points. I think the signs early on this year, are better than last year.

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