Round 10: Willow's match report

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Round 10 of the Telstra NRL premiership saw the Wests Tigers take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs at the historical SCG. Both sides were coming into the match fresh off the bye and looking to break back into the winners circle. The Tigers were desperate to snap a 3 game losing streak and entered today’s match minus prop Keith Galloway who had surgery on his hand earlier in the week to repair torn ligaments. Galloway was replaced up front by Todd Payten which saw Liam Fulton move into the second row and Junior Moors added to the bench. Simon Dwyer was 18th man for the Tigers. The Tigers hoever did welcome back halfback Robert Lui who returned from an ankle injury suffered in round 2 against the Sydney Roosters, and this would hopefully give the Tigers an improved direction in attack which had been disappointing of late.

For the Tigers to win this game, a much improved performance in ball control and discipline would be required as they had been guilty of far too much dropped ball and silly penalties in recent weeks which had put too much strain on the Tigers defence. A similar performance today against the sizeable Souths pack would spell certain doom. So just how did today’s match unfold?

1st half:

Souths kicked off to start the match and got away to a near perfect start by kicking the ball dead which forced the Tigers into a line drop out. John Sutton broke the Tigers early as they came up with some very poor defence and nearly paid the price however Sutton lost the ball just short of the Tigers line. The Tigers further compounded their situation by kicking out on the full through Benji Marshall. Sam Burgess went close to scoring however lost the ball forward letting the Tigers off the hook. So far though the Tigers were looking anything but confident. They managed to get through the next set though however allowed Souths out of their own end through a penalty. Souths coughed up the ball a couple of tackles later though.

The Tigers were given a penalty in the 6th minute as Chris Sandow was penalised for an infringement bringing the ball out of Souths danger zone. A follow up penalty right in front of the posts saw the Tigers take the tap however Bryce Gibbs lost the ball on the first tackle letting Souths off the hook. A mistake from Robbie Farah in the 8th minute saw Isaac Luke swoop on the ball and hold off a chasing Chris Lawrence and Benji Marshall to score out wide. Replays showed some doubt with Luke touching the ball first and a no-try rule went the Tigers way. Another lost ball from the Tigers in the 10th minute saw Souths go on the attack inside the Tigers half however the Tigers defence held. Souths opened the scoring in the 12th minute through Nathan Merritt as Sam Burgess ran onto a very flat pass which some thought was forward. It was poor defence from the Tigers in the middle of the ruck. Luke converted to give Souths a 6-0 lead.

Souths turned the ball over from the re-start which gave the Tigers a good attacking chance provided they could hang onto the ball. The Tigers attack looked very disorganised though and Robbie Farah was caught with the ball on the last tackle. Tigers half Rob Lui came up with a good solo run in the 17th minute however once again the Tigers attack failed to crack Souths. The Tigers were awarded a penalty in the 18th minute as Lote Tuqiri had the ball stripped in a 2 man tackle after making a good run. Another penalty to the Tigers in the 19th minute gave them great attacking position once again. The Tigers finally opened their account through Rob Lui who took on the Souths line and burst through to score next to the posts. It came off the back of a strong run from Chris Heighington. Benji converted the try to level the match at 6-6 after 21 minutes.

Some renewed defence from the Tigers came undone all of a sudden as a poor Souths pass found Ben Lowe who threw a dummy which the Tigers fell for and they scored out wide through man mountain Dave Taylor. Isaac Luke extended Souths lead to 12-6 after 25 minutes. A break by Nathan Merritt saw Souths go right on the attack again however they lost 30 metres on the next play and the Tigers held on grimly. A poor Souths pass saw Mark Flanagan swoop on it only to have the ball stripped by Sandow in the same play in the 28th minute. Chris Sandow then scored for Souths as John Sutton poked through a hole to offload. The Tigers defence just wasn’t up to the task which was disappointing. Luke converted the try to leave the Tigers trailing 18-6 and looking in all sorts of trouble.

Some enterprising play from the Tigers in the 34th minute saw Daniel Fitzhenry break Souths up the middle which Benji Marshall followed up with a cross field kick for Blake Ayshford however the ball was comfortably fielded by Souths. The Tigers kicking game continued to let them down with bombs going straight up and down and putting no real pressure on Souths. A relieving penalty to the Tigers in the 37th minute saw them come away from their own line. A good run from Blake Ayshford with defenders hanging off him saw him try and pass the ball only to lose the ball letting Souths off the hook. The Tigers went to halftime down 18-6 and with a lot of work to do if they were to come back and win. Once again poor handling let the Tigers down along with some poor defence around the ruck on occasion. Best for the Tigers in the first half were Rob Lui, Chris Heighington, Gareth Ellis and Beau Ryan but really, the side lacked intensity and cohesion overall.

2nd half:

The Tigers kicked off and held Souths defensively while Sam Burgess suffered a leg injury in hitting the ball up. The Tigers though, knocked the ball on through Lote Tuqiri in bringing the ball out of their own end. Once again, it was a disappointing start to the half for the Tigers. Souths scored in the 42 minute as Beau Champion put himself between Chris Lawrence and Benji Marshall to plant the ball down for the softest of tries. Luke missed the conversion however Souths now led 22-6 and looked comfortable while the Tigers were left with two players left on the interchange bench as Liam Fulton and Blake Ayshford were injured. It got worse for the Tigers as they let a bomb bounce and paid the penalty as Beau Champion scored his second try for the afternoon. Luke converted to give Souths a 28-6 lead after 46 minutes.

Souths made very easy metres from the re-start as they bent the Tigers back. Souths scored their third try in 8 minutes as Benji Marshall threw a losse pass which was knocked on by Chris Lawrence and Nathan Merritt raced away to score in the corner. Luke converted from the sideline to give Souths a 34-6 lead. Souths nearly scored again in the 52nd minute however Gareth Ellis fielded a chip kick but was dragged in-goal as the Tigers were forced to make a line drop out. The Tigers defence for some unknown reason held this time. Benji Marshall landed a 40/20 in the 55th minute however it drew no response from the players or Sheens who was sitting on the sideline. Chris Lawrence was forced into touch on the first tackle which summed up their attitude and gameplan for the day.

A penalty to the Tigers in the 56th minute saw them go back on the attack through Benji Marshall. Daniel Fitzhenry came up with a possible try in the 57th minute as he pounced on a grubber from Farah but did not ground the ball properly. A Benji Marshall grubber kick in the 60th minute was knocked on by Wesser giving the Tigers a decent attacking opportunity. Junior Moors crossed for the Tigers however knocked the ball forward off a Souths player. Souths went further in front in the 63rd minute as Colin Best crossed untouched from a cross field kick as Daniel Fitzhenry was caught in no- mans land. Luke converted the try to extend the lead to 40-6 with 15 minutes remaining.

Souths again crossed for the easiest of tries in the 69th minute as the Tigers flirted with danger coming off their own line in shifting the ball wide. Nathan Merritt was on the spot to pick the loose ball up and score under the posts. Luke converted to extend the lead to 46-6 with 10 minutes remaining. Souths hit 50 from the next set as they cut the Tigers to shreds. The Tigers were nothing short of embarrassing as no effort or pride was shown at all by the players. Luke missed the conversion to leave the score at 50-6\. Chris Lawrence scored a consolation try in the 78th minute as he picked up a loose Souths pass. Marshall’s conversion was just waved away as Souths ran out 50-10 winners as the Tigers produced their worst display in probably 3 years.

Onto the players (stats likely to be updated):

1. Beau Ryan - One of only a couple of Tigers who had a go today. Ryan defended well as he was called on to make several tackles on runaway Souths players and had a better day under the high ball. No room to do anything in attack though. 141 metres in attack, 8 tackles, 1 error.

2\. Lote Tuqiri - Had his worst game in Tigers colours today as he received no ball and was outplayed easily by Merritt. 47 metres in attack, 3 tackles, 3 missed tackle and 2 errors.

3\. Blake Ayshford - Left the field injured in the second half and did not return. Up until then he received very little ball. 59 metres in attack, 8 tackles, 1 error.

4\. Chris Lawrence - Scored a late try but really he was disappointing today and outplayed by Champion. Missed a few tackles and came up with a couple of poor errors. Definitely won't be playing SOO. 115 metres in attack, 1 try, 15 tackles, 4 missed tackles, 2 errors.

5\. Daniel Fitzhenry - Had one good run from dummyhalf in the first half, otherwise he was quiet and ineffective once again. 72 metres in attack, 3 tackles, 3 missed tackles, 1 error.

6\. Benji Marshall - Donate your paycheck to charity. When the Tigers needed someone to step up and lead, you weren't there. Did nothing in attack and failed to trouble Souths. Came up with a 40/20 only for Lawrence to be pushed into touch on the next play. Defensively he came up with some poor misses too. 13 metres in attack, 9 tackles, 4 missed tackles, 2 errors.

7\. Robert Lui - Along with Ryan, Lui was the only back to have a go IMO. Came up with a strong individual run in the first half and backed it up by scoring a try on his own. Obviously rusty from not having played in awhile and defensively had some problems, but he was far from the worst Tiger on-field today. 67 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 linebreak, 7 tackle breaks, 19 tackles, 6 missed tackles, 1 error.

8\. Bryce Gibbs - Another one of the few to have a go today but he was easily contained by Souths pack. Defended well. 98 metres in attack, 36 tackles, 1 error.

9\. Robbie Farah - Hand back your paycheck too. Really offered nothing in the way of creativity and attack and it was an ordinary effort indeed. Not as bad as his game against the Roosters in round 1, but not far behind. 55 metres in attack, 30 tackles.

11\. Todd Payten - Zero impact today. Poor performance. 37 metres in attack, 23 tackles, 2 missed tackles, 1 error.

12\. Gareth Ellis - Disappointingly quiet in attack with the Tigers continually dropping the ball. Defended strongly but that's about it. 41 metres in attack, 32 tackles, 3 missed tackles, 2 errors.

15\. Liam Fulton - Left the field injured in the first half and did not return. Was not doing anything special out there but the Tigers missed his defence around the ruck. 28 metres in attack, 12 tackles, 2 missed tackles.

13\. Chris Heighington - One of the few players who had a go today. Ran hard when he had the ball and defended ok with a few misses but he was one of the Tigers best today. 86 metres in attack, 4 tackle breaks, 38 tackles, 5 missed tackles, 1 error.

14\. Andrew Fifita - Zero impact today as the forward pack was owned. The learning curve continues for this young prop. 20 metres in attack, 16 tackles, 2 missed tackles.

16\. Mark Flanagan - Tried hard but just lacks the size to have a real impact in the forwards as today showed against Souths monster pack. Defended well. 45 metres in attack, 28 tackles, 2 missed tackles, 1 error.

17\. Mitch Brown - Actually got a run today in the second half when Blake Ayshford left the field. Didn't do much unfortunately but was safe while out there. 30 metres in attack, 8 tackles.

18\. Junior Moors - No impact today. Disappointing. 29 metres in attack, 19 tackles, 1 error.

Team Analysis:

Attack - It has simply disappeared, moved to another continent, been exterminated by a deadly disease…I don't know but the Tigers in recent weeks look a worse attacking outfit than the Cronulla Sharks. Farah, Marshall, Lawrence, Tuqiri...Names like this should have teams worried when it comes to defending against them. Instead the Tigers backline, or rather team as whole, could not catch a cold or hit water if they fell out of a boat. It is disappointing and not acceptable for paying fans who support the team.

Defence - Today it was atrocious. The players did not turn up and only a handful of players looked to have a go in defence. Gibbs, Heighno and Flanagan were all busy in the middle in defence and Ryan was ok at the back but there were no big hits and no urgency shown today. Worst defensive effort I have seen in probably 3 years to be honest.

Kicking game - It is the worst in the competition without doubt. Bombs that go straight up and down, long kicks which are swallowed by the fullback and cross field kicks which are about as accurate as a blind man at a shooting range.

Team stats (Souths in brackets):

Try assists: 0 (7)
Offloads: 5 (14)
Line breaks: 1 (9)
Line break assists: 0 (5)
Tackles made: 309 (248)
1 on 1 tackles: 23 (19)
Missed tackles: 43 (30)
Tackle breaks: 31 (47)
Total metres gained: 968 (1658)
Possession: 44% (56%)
Completion rate: 24/38 - 63% (27/43 - 63%)
Errors: 16 (20)
Penalties conceded: 2 (7)

Today's effort, or lackthereof from the Tigers was simply pathetic and not up to first grade standard. Farah and Sheens apologised to the fans in the post match media conference, but you know what, saying sorry does not fix humpty dumpty. From the kickoff there was a clear lack of intensity and purpose in anything the Tigers did. The attacking structure was atrocious and the defence was a thin line of rabble. It was probably the worst game I have seen from the Tigers in the last 3 years.

I will go on record here and say that the Tigers cannot make the 8 from here. Now while I am upset and disappointed with today's loss as much as anyone, I will give my reasons as to why I think the Tigers are gone for this season.

1\. Mental strength and application - Quite simply, this team lacks the mental strength and application to play for 80 minutes and compete with the good teams. After a promising start to the season, the Tigers have seriously failed to compete for 80 minutes over the last 4 games and I don't see what they can possibly do to turn things around. There is a clear lack of leadership being shown by Farah and Marshall and the team look clueless at times and directionless in attack.

2\. Impact - The Tigers are lacking impact in the starting team and off the bench. Andrew Fifita was the one Tiger off the bench offering anything above hitting it up and hoping for the best. Once again, size and strength look to be hurting the Tigers. Carrying two lightweight workhorses in Fulton and Flanagan is fine if they are surounded by big units such as the Souths forward pack, but the Tigers do no boast such size or strength and they are too easily dominated by the opposition.

3\. Kicking game - The Tigers have the worst kicking game in the compeition. It offers next to nothing in attack and fails to build pressure against the opposition. The top teams have good general kicking games, the Tigers is laughable I hate to say.

The Tigers take on an injury depleted Newcastle Knights team next Friday night, so it's a short turnaround. On current form though, Newcastle should win this comfortably, they have size and speed across the park and I think the Tigers will again struggle to contain them, even without Gidley and a couple of injured forwards.

Right now all I can do is hope that the Tigers can somehow turn around this terrible form slump, but I honestly don't know what they can do to turn it around. They really do look devoid of ideas and heart.
 

Eddie

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Nice report Willow.

The reasons you say the Tigers will not make the finals are spot on. The first being the main one. Mental strength and leadership, we do not have any. When the going gets tough, we fall apart. We can't win close games because of this, we lose confidence and go on long losing streaks because of this. First Grade Football in 2010 is about the grind and competing with attitude every week. Teams like Manly and Saints have maybe a touch more ability then us but not much. However they are disciplined, strong and more importantly mentally tough and well led.

We are a talented rabble and have been for 5 seasons. Blame Farah, Blame Marshall, yep sure they had shockers. However it is a first grades coach job over a sustained period to build a culture where leadership and mental toughness develops. I honestly believe the players have been drained and mentally brain dead over the last 4 seasons. They see the same man in charge and when it comes to the crunch we have no confidence.

We are the most disorganised football side in the league and that includes hapless outfits like Cronulla. It is plain embarrassing for the coaches and the players. They talk all this rubbish at the start of the season about aiming up and no more excuses, and it washes up to nothing. We are the most unaccountable side in the competition. The fans deserve much, much better because they support this side in numbers.
 

seadoggy

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I was watching the game in a bar, people were laughing at our efforts, your report is spot on willow,can we mail it to tim sheens, with all due respect, fitzhenry, payten, fulton, flanagan do not offer enough to win matches, marshall and farah have to be playing injured or they should be very embarrassed on that effort, it was benji's worst game ever.
fifita and moors need more game time, lui was good, lawrence looks frustrated, ayshford is a good backrower wasted at centre. That's it, once again our selection and recruitment has ensured our season is over before it started - kick back and enjoy our odd moments of brilliance mixed with mediocrity until 2012, cause nothing is going to change till then …...
 

tigeress

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Willow, your "appraisal" of this match, seems to tell it how it is ! I am saddened to say that I believe the team (including coaches) have gone stale, the club needs to reassess its objectives. I don't think they believe in themselves any more, thus they have lost heart - maybe the leadership needs to be looked at. I am wishing and hoping that we are all wrong, and that they will come good, but like everyone else I'm not sure that this will happen as things stand at the moment.
 

galahs

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Benji made 13 meters in attack. Not good enough for a first grade 5/8\. Not good enough for a Harrold Matts five-eight
 

westTAHger

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willow a very good match report.
was at the game yesterday, and must admit was shaking my head at the effort.
ego's will be hurt from this game, and so they should be, we will have to wait and see how the team bounces back on fri night.
you are only as good as your last game, and we all know the team yesterday, bar a few players, were just well not worth a pinch of ….
 

galahs

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if the players don't bounce back from this they should play the rest of the season in a pink jersey, because they don't deserve to play in the proud colours of our joint venture team.
 

boonboon

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Personally I think Benji at least tried to spark things all game and kept putting in unlike some of the forwards and really wasnt anywhere near being the problem most on here seem to think except the one area where the tigers really fall down even when playin g well and thats the kicking game
 

scarcev

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@boonboon said:
Personally I think Benji at least tried to spark things all game and kept putting in unlike some of the forwards and really wasnt anywhere near being the problem most on here seem to think except the one area where the tigers really fall down even when playin g well and thats the kicking game

you are kidding yourself, he was awful, no he was worse than that and has been for weeks. Please tell me when you saw him putting in, in which of his 13m of attack are you talking about. Thats right THIRTEEN METRES, Mitch Brown more than doubled him in 10 minutes. This bloke takes up over 1/10th of our salary cap and needs to start performing.

People get on here and defend Marshall because his forwards dont get a roll on, or because his halfback is useless and look for every other excuse under the sun. Sure we are missing a few forwards, sure our halfback has been changed around due to injury, sure Sheens is stale but that doesnt excuse poor missed tackles, poor passes, poor kicking game and 13m in attack.

13m. I can only imagine what HH (hemmesleys hairdresser) is doing now.
 
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