Media Reports



By Wayne Cousins
19/07/2010 8:56:12 PM

Wests Tigers recorded a spirited 26-16 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys tonight at Leichhardt Oval in round 19 of the Telstra Premiership.
In a thrilling match played in cold conditions in front of a crowd of 11, 364, Wests Tigers had to dig deep in the second half to record a vital victory to remain in third place on the ladder.
In team changes, Geoff Daniela moved from the wing to the centre to replace Chris Lawrence. Mitch Brown came into the starting team to replace Daniela on the wing.
Lawrence moved to five-eighth with Benji Marshall shifting from five-eighth to half-back.
Experienced prop John Skandalis played his first game in the NRL this season off the interchange bench. It was Skandalis’ 181st game for Wests Tigers. Gareth Ellis did nmot play.
Video referee Phil Cooley was called upon in the fourth minute to rule whether winger Ashley Graham was on side from a crossfield kick by half-back Johnathan Thurston. The try was awarded much to the boos of the Leichhardt Oval faithful.
Thurston failed to convert from the sideline for a 4-0 scoreline after six minutes.
Two minutes later Wests Tigers winger Lote Tuqiri got the crowd on its feet with a tremendous run down the hill side. It led to a subsequent penalty with half-back Benji Marshall going close to scoring in the ensuring set.
Wests Tigers got another penalty in that set and looked dangerous before winger Mitch Brown was taken into touch by Thurston just metres from the tryline.
Cooley was called on for the second time in the 14th minute to rule whether second-rower Todd Payten had clearly grounded the ball from a grubber kick by Robbie Farah. It was ruled no try.
It was the same again for Cooley in the 17th minute when referee Shayne Hayne asked him to rule on a try to Cowboys full-back Matt Bowen after second-rower Scott Bolton ran into Marshall before Bowen scored. It was rule no try.
Tuqiri has proven a real handful with his barnstorming runs in the opening 20 minutes, causing plenty of havoc for the Cowboys defence.
The Cowboys extended their lead to 8-0 when Bowen drew in a defender to send Ben Harris over for a soft try in the 24th minute. Thurston converted the try for a 10-0 lead after 26 minutes.
It became 14-0 when former Wests Tigers back Arana Taumata stepped past the attempted tackle of centre Blake Ayshford to race 50 metres to score. Thurston converted the try for a 16-0 lead after 29 minutes.
Wests Tigers finally converted one of their tryscoring opportunities in the 36th minute when quick hands by Marshall, full-back Wade McKinnon and Ayshford saw Tuqiri dive over in the corner for his 10th try in 17 games this season. Marshall failed to convert from the sideline for a 16-4 scoreline.
Tuqiri almost laid on the Wests Tigers second try when on the last tackle and in broken play, he put through a kick only to see the ball beat Marshall to the dead ball line.
The score remained 16-4 at half-time. The half-time stats showed Wests Tigers completed 14/18 sets compared to the Cowboys’ 12/15\. Wests Tigers missed 17 tackles compared to the Cowboys 13.
2nd Half
Wests Tigers got back to 16-8 in the 45th minute when the ball was spread far right through Farah and Marshall before second-rower Liam Fulton beat a defender to offload a pass to winger Mitch Brown. Marshall failed to convert the try.
Cooley was again called on in the 48th minute to rule whether Ayshford had managed to get the ball over the line out wide despite the tackle of Graham. The try was awarded for a 16-12 scoreline. Marshall failed to convert the try.
Some individual brilliance by Marshall saw Wests Tigers level the scores at 16-16 in the 55th minute. Marshall chip kicked over the Cowboys defence from 45 metres out before regathering the ball. He then ran acrossfield to throw a long cut out pass for Tuqiri to dive over in the corner.
In the 74th minute, Farah throws a pass from dummy half to Marshall whose field goal attempt from 15 metres out misses from almost in front.
Three minutes later, Wests Tigers second-rower Liam Fulton races 45 metres downfield to outsprint the cover defence to brush off Bowen to score out wide. Marshall converted his first goal for a 22-16 scoreline.
A minute from full-time, a Cowboys drop ball is picked up by Fulton 30 metres out from his own line. He offloads to Marshall who races up the middle of the field to outsprint the defence to salute the crowd as he scores to secure a hard fought victory. Marshall failed to convert his own try but Wests Tigers get home 26-16.


Cowboys corralled by Tigers' second-half blitz
July 19, 2010 - 9:51PM

ABOUT 50 minutes into last night's clash, some in the Leichhardt Oval masses might have happily cut Wests Tigers halfback Benji Marshall's right foot off. The Tigers had dragged themselves back into the contest, with three tries in 13 minutes - only for Marshall's inaccurate boot to leave the Tigers short of their opponents.

But then a chip kick by the playmaker, which set up Lote Tuqiri's second try of the night, changed the course of a crucial contest.

It was a strange night for Marshall, the sort of up-and-down occasion that reflected his team's performance. He finished with one conversion from six,and after kicking a 51-metre field goal last week against the Titans, he missed from 20 metres out with six minutes left, as the Tigers looked to close the match out. They were cursing that wayward boot again. It took a try by Liam Fulton, who had been put through a gap by Marshall, to finally see off the spirited Cowboys with a few minutes remaining. Marshall - who else - put the polish on it with a late sprint to the line.

It came after Parramatta fullback Jarryd Hayne had thrown down the gauntlet with his piece of individual brilliance on Saturday night - anything you can do … OK, so what Marshall did wasn't in that category, but it was still wonderful to watch.

As the Eels did, the Tigers produced a stunning turnaround; the Cowboys led 16-0 past the half-hour mark, as the Tigers fumbled and bumbled against the side that has turned those things into an art form at times this year. Despite form, logic, location and a couple of neat early surges by Tuqiri, the Cowboys had begun more eagerly, and successfully. After scoring inside five minutes through winger Ashley Graham, who had pounced on Thurston's clever cross-field kick, the Cowboys had to cope with the loss of their State of Origin centre Willie Tonga, who injured an ankle after 12 minutes. He limped badly on it before succumbing. In that time, the Tigers had their best chance to score, when Todd Payten bounced Robbie Farah's grubber.

The Tigers then suffered their own injury blow, with Geoff Daniela, Tonga's opposite, appearing to damage a shoulder. That brought utility Daniel Fitzhenry into the contest. The utility enjoyed a marvellous outing the last time he appeared at this ground, scooting away for a critical try against Canberra in the dying moments, but last night was unforgettable for the wrong reasons.

First, he lost the ball after 24 minutes, allowing Ben Harris, who had replaced Tonga in the Cowboys' left-centre position, the opportunity to grab the side's second try. The Cowboys were growing in confidence and the Tigers were wondering what was going wrong.

And then after 28 minutes, the ultimate insult occurred from Arana Taumata, who was a clubmate - although not a teammate, having failed to play NRL with the Tigers - just a few weeks ago. His subsequent move to the Cowboys brought him an immediate spot in his new team and then impact against his old squad; he scorched away for a 28th minute try to give the Cowboys a shock 16-0 lead.

The Tigers were frustrated and the Cowboys were wondering how on earth they have found this football thing so hard. Not even a 5-0 penalty count against them could stop them taking charge against the third-placed team in the competition.

But both sides are capable of what they produced last night; the Cowboys have too many good players to always produce the awful league that has dominated their season, while the Tigers always fear an off night.

But Tuqiri's first try at least gave the Tigers something to take into half-time.

WESTS TIGERS 26 (L Tuqiri 2, B Ayshford, M Brown, L Fulton, B Marshall tries; B Marshall goal) bt NORTH QUEENSLAND 16 (A Graham, B Harris, A Taumata tries; J Thurston 2 goals) at Leichhardt Oval. Referee: Matt Cecchin, Shayne Hayne. Crowd: 11,364.


Turbo Tigers rein in Cowboys

By Raman Goraya

Updated July 19, 2010 22:00:00
Wests Tigers scored six unanswered tries to pull off a 26-16 come-from-behind victory over the lowly Cowboys at Leichhardt Oval on Monday night.

Down 16-0 after a disastrous start, the Tigers turned it on in a thrilling second half, leaving it until the last three minutes to wrap up a win that takes them to equal second with Penrith on the NRL ladder.

Level at 16-16 and following a missed field goal attempt by Benji Marshall, second rower Liam Fulton claimed the match-winner with a barnstorming 40-metre run to the line.

Marshall, who converted only one of six conversion attempts, iced the cake with a long-range intercept try on the hooter to leave rugby league's suburban heartland rocking.

Whilst playing far from their best in recent weeks, including two and one point wins over Brisbane and Gold Coast respectively, the Tigers' only loss in their last eight matches has come at the hands of the league-leading Dragons in round 16.

"At this stage of the year you have to win those close games, it can really make your season, especially wins like that," Tigers captain Robbie Farah said.

"We'll get a lot of positives and negatives out of that.

"We are nowhere near our best. We have [injured] Gareth Ellis to come back into the side and Rob Lui should be back soon.

"Fingers crossed we can get some consistency with our top 17 and really get some form on the board."

Some early, dominant forward play by the Cowboys set the scene for Ashley Graham, Ben Harris and former Tiger Arana Taumata to all score in the space of 23 minutes.

But the game turned Wests' way when Lote Tuqiri finished off a tidy second man play in the shadows of the break.

While Marshall's confidence was down off the tee, his in-game kicking was right on the money to cap off a match-changing 10 minutes after half-time.

After Mitch Brown and Blake Ayshford both crossed in quick succession straight after the interval, the elusive five-eighth produced a sublime chip, chase and regather before floating a pass for Tuqiri to level the scores.

Tuqiri was a stand-out for the hosts, proving a handful all evening for the shaky North Queensland defence.

In contrast, the Cowboys lived up to their last placing on the competition table, with the exception of Melbourne, producing a first half of brilliant attacking football followed by a woeful defensive effort in the second 40.

Their slim chances of finals football were finally put to bed with a fourth straight defeat, but the Cowboys will look back at a number of contentious decisions at crucial stages.

A Matt Bowen try in the first half was called back by the video referee for obstruction, but it was a similar decision in general play and a late tackle call on Scott Bolton that halted North Queensland's momentum with the game on the line.

Cowboys coach Neil Henry was not critical of the referees but said the 9-2 penalty count took it out of his players.

"When we got a little bit of possession, we probably didn't have enough petrol in there to really put them under pressure," he said.

"When you look at that count, and we'll go through the tape and have a look at it, but the Leichhardt crowd, the home ground, it's worth a few penalties."

Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston added: "They're very vocal here - every 50-50 call they got."

"They kept getting penalty after penalty after penalty."

But it was the Cowboys' ball handling that really proved their undoing, completing only 50 per cent of their sets in the second half compared to 81 per cent in a fruitful first period.

Thurston and Bowen were a threat all night but the Cowboys were hit by an early ankle injury to centre Willie Tonga.

Tigers prop Keith Galloway also left the action early after taking a knee to the head while Geoff Daniela suffered suspected nerve damage in his shoulder and neck.


Marshall inspires Wests Tigers victory over North Queensland Cowboys

By staff writers
July 19, 2010

Benji Marshall produced a freakish performance to lead Wests Tigers to a thrilling come-from-behind victory over North Queensland Cowboys at Leichhardt Oval.

Down 16-0 midway through the opening half against a side above only Melbourne on the ladder, the Tigers kept alive their hopes of a top two finish as they ran in six unanswered tries.

Marshall set up three of them and finished off the job with a 70 metre solo effort in the final minute.

Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens was reserved in his appraisal of Marshall, but admitted he had been able to produce the big play when it counted.

"He's had a mixed night, he knows that,'' Tigers coach Tim Sheens said of Marshall.

"But when the big moments are there, he and Robbie and Chrissy Lawrence delivered some good things.

"They delivered what we pay them to do and that's help win us games.''

But Marshall was very nearly the villain as he missed his opening four shots at goal, which left the sides locked at 16-all deep into the game and he was a relieved man after the match.

"When it was 16-all with a kick from the sideline I was concentrating - I had to touch the ball boy for luck for the one I got over … I said 'gimme five mate, give me some luck,'' Marshall said.

"I'm glad it didn't have an effect on the outcome of the game and we scored enough tries to get through - (but) I don't want to to be like that every week.''

But Marshall clinched the match with just over three minutes left on the clock when the Kiwi five-eighth fed Liam Fulton who sprinted through a gap to dive over for the match winner.

The Cowboys were left lamenting the one that got away with coach Neil Henry and Thurston taking aim at the officials and lopsided 9-2 penalty count.

"They're very vocal here - every 50-50 call they got,'' Thurston said.

"They kept getting penalty after penalty after penalty.''

The Tigers had the best of the position and possession during the opening exchanges, yet somehow they found themselves trailing 16-0 before the half hour.

A pinpoint Johnathan Thurston kick after five minutes found a wandering Lote Tuqiri out of position as Ashley Graham touched down out wide.

The visitors were over again soon after when Daniel Fitzhenry dropped a bomb to give Ben Harris an opportunity to dive over from the ensuing scrum win before Arana Taumata - a Tiger just four weeks ago - scythed through from halfway for a 16-0 lead.

Finally the Tigers showed some patience as Tuqiri finished a seamless backline movement to give hope of a second half comeback, the home side rewarding the Leichhardt faithful with three tries in the opening 14 minutes of the second period to get back on level terms.

Liam Fulton did brilliantly to swivel and pass as he fell to the ground to send Mitch Brown over before Blake Ayshford got the Tigers within four when he did just enough to score from short range.

Marshall fed off that energy as he chipped ahead and regathered from inside his own half, Tuqiri deservedly finishing off the play as he touched down in the corner to lock it up at 16 apiece with 25 minutes remaining.