Wests Tigers v Bulldogs Preview

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Wests Tigers v Bulldogs Preview

Wests Tigers v Bulldogs
SFS
Friday 7.35pm

Another year without finals football for the Wests Tigers, after last week’s loss to the Titans kyboshed their late-season rally, relegates this once-likely monumental clash against the table-topping Bulldogs to a contest about pride and pride alone for the home side.

The ‘what ifs’ once again dominate the water-cooler and forum talk for the fans of the 2005 premiers, who since that famous and exciting season haven’t forced their way back to the finals.

But while there is no finals carrot on the end of a string here for the Tigers, there is a chance to give those loyal fans one last warm fuzzy feeling with a victory against the competition front-runners.

Robert Lui is out, which sees John Morris come into halfback, while John Skandalis is off the bench with three players in Alan Schirnack, David Gower and Rhys Pritchard in line to replace him.

The Bulldogs, who moved into top spot with victory over the Warriors, can cement the minor premiership – and the $100,000 prize money that goes with it – with a win here, although they will have to do it without veteran halfback Brett Kimmorley.

Kimmorley had his face rearranged in a head clash last weekend and has had titanium plates inserted in his cheekbone. Consequently he is out for a couple of weeks.

If they can overcome the loss of their inspirational playmaker then officially they will have climbed from outhouse to penthouse, having finished with the wooden spoon last season.

Daniel Holdsworth has been given the job of replacing Kimmorley in the only change from last weekend’s side.

Should they lose, they could lose top spot to the Dragons, assuming the Dragons can arrest a bad form slump to beat the Eels.

Watch out Wests Tigers: The Bulldogs are heading to the left in attack to feed the hungry and elusive duo of Josh Morris and Bryson Goodwin.

With 53 tries on the left compared to 29 on the right it is no secret the Bulldogs like going left and considering both Morris and Goodwin have 19 tries each this season, they’d be mad not to keep heading to the boys out wide.

The Tigers’ defenders should mark the pair heavily as it is one of their own, in injured Taniela Tuiaki, who currently leads the top try-scorers list with 21 tries – a mark in reach for the Bulldogs’ pair if the ’Dogs play well.

Watch out Bulldogs: The only side to break the line more often than the Bulldogs this season is the Wests Tigers. With 124 line breaks for the year the Tigers lead the way but the Bulldogs are just one behind with 123 line breaks.

Of the Tigers’ line breaks, 14 have been from dummy-half, the most in the competition, so the ’Dogs need to keep a very close watch on the ruck and especially on Robbie Farah.

The Tigers also have nine line breaks from kick-returns, to rank third in the NRL, so it is imperative the Bulldogs’ kick-chase is focussed or the Tigers could look to attack from the back.

Then there is the ‘nudie run’ watch. Wests Tigers players playing here yet to score a try this season include Gareth Ellis, Chris Heighington, Danny Galea and Alan Schirnack.

Where it will be won: Defence. The Tigers will no doubt look to get some razzle-dazzle football going, considering they have nothing to gain or lose from this match (unless you call the potential of falling from 10th to 12th a big deal). The Bulldogs also have their own attacking weapons to draw on, which makes the crucial factor defence.

So far this season the Bulldogs have averaged just over 17 points conceded a match while the Wests Tigers have let in just over 20 points a match. In terms of effectiveness of tackles the Bulldogs have been effective on 84.3 per cent of occasions – but the Tigers have just shaded them with 84.6 per cent. This means the Bulldogs have been more effective at scrambling to ensure their misses don’t always lead to points.

In terms of ‘spot’ players or players to aim at, the Tigers should point players at Michael Ennis and Jarrad Hickey while the Bulldogs should aim traffic at Benji Marshall.

The history: Played 17; Wests Tigers 7, Bulldogs 10\. The Bulldogs got home 22-20 in a close one earlier this season to make it four from the past six against the Tigers. However the past five matches have had a win-one, lose-one trend which means the Wests Tigers are due. The two sides are yet to meet at the SFS.

Conclusion: The Bulldogs should be good enough to claim the minor premiership with victory here but the unknown factor of no Kimmorley could have them a little rudderless.

Much will come down to the attitude of the Wests Tigers’ players. If they turn up to compete, they can certainly produce some stunning football and could easily win. If they turn up just to go through the motions, the Bulldogs will destroy them.

The side-battle between hookers Michael Ennis and Robbie Farah could also provide some great viewing so if you are in the area make sure you get on down to the SFS because at the very least this game should be entertaining.

Match officials: Referees – Jared Maxwell & Steve Lyons; Sideline Officials – Russell Turner & Steve Carrall; Video Ref – Tim Mander.

Televised: Channel Nine – Delayed 9.30pm (NSW & Qld); Fox Sports – Delayed 1.30am Sat.

* Statistics: NRL Stats.
 
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Laurie Daley's Preview:

Wests Tigers v Bulldogs, Friday 7.35pm (EST), Sydney Football Stadium
The Bulldogs have worked hard all season to put destiny in their own hands and now with one game remaining have achieved just that. A win will secure the minor premiership and a historic worst-to-first turnaround. The last meeting between the two produced a nail-biter with Shannon Gallant missing the chance to send the game into golden-point with a sideline conversion as the Bulldogs prevailed 22-20\. The Dogs lead the league in points scored and linebreaks and have won five straight. The Tigers' own six-match renaissance has been halted with two straight loses and getting the points here will reward them with nothing more than a devastating ninth-placed finish.

Laurie says: "The Bulldogs won't miss a beat with Brett Kimmorley out and Daniel Holdsworth in. Holdsworth has been there before and he will control the right-hand side of the attack with Ben Roberts patrolling the left. They'll miss Kimmorley's tenacious tackling and competitive nature, but I'm sure the other players will rise to the challenge, especially with the minor premiership on the line. The Tigers look like they are out of energy. They've given it their all over the past two weeks and haven't got a result. The Bulldogs on a roll and should win here."
 

westTAHger

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Joined
Jul 13, 2009
Messages
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am looking forward to the battle between Ennis & Robbie.
also :pray: that Goodwin & Morris do not get any chance to pass TNT for top try scorer of the year.
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would be nice to finish another dis-appointing year :unamused: with a win. :wahoo:
 
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Sportal Preview:

Preview: Wests Tigers v Bulldogs
Steve Orme, Sportal
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VENUE & TIME: Sydney Football Stadium, Friday September 4, 7.35pm (AEST)
COVERAGE: Channel nine
LAST TIME: Bulldogs 22 - Tigers 20, at ANZ Stadium, Round 8, 2009.
WALKING WOUNDED: Giant winger Taniela Tuiaki (ankle) is the only big-name casualty for the Tigers who have the rest of their stars at their disposal for their final hit-out of another disappointing campaign. The Bulldogs have lost star half-back Brett Kimmorley for up to a month with a fractured cheekbone sustained in his collision with Warriors centre Jerome Ropati in the opening minutes of Sunday's clash.

FORM: The Tigers had control of their own destiny against the Titans having shot to an early 12-0 advantage, but as has been the case for the past four seasons, Tim Sheens' men fell apart when it mattered most conceding two late tries to fall out of finals contention. The Bulldogs made it five straight with their 40-20 victory over the hapless Warriors to celebrate Hazem El Masri's final regular-season home game in fine style. It wasn't their most clinical display but it has left them in the box seat to claim the minor premiership. They will complete their dramatic journey from wooden-spooners to top dogs with a win over the Tigers, but if they lose and the Dragons beat the Eels the Bulldogs will have to settle for second spot.

WHO'S HOT: Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah remain the stars of an unpredictable Tigers outfit, despite their inability to get their side over the line against the unsung Titans. Bulldogs flyer Josh Morris continued his prolific season picking up a hat-trick against the Warriors to sit equal second on the try-scorers' list alongside his brother Brett and team-mate Bryson Goodwin, two behind the injured Tuiaki who is stranded on 21\. Five-eighth Ben Roberts showed his worth after Kimmorley left the field, controlling proceedings for the most part, while the man-of-the-moment kicked a perfect eight from eight with the boot.

WE THINK: The Tigers' unpredictability coupled with the loss of Kimmorley for the Bulldogs makes this one a real coin toss. The Bulldogs are confident new man Daniel Holdsworth can simply pick up where Kimmorley left off, but we're not so sure. Tigers by two.
 
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From the SMH:

Wests Tigers v Bulldogs

Greg Prichard | September 3, 2009 - 5:00PM

Friday, SFS, 7.35pm
Referees: Jared Maxwell, Steve Lyons
Head to head: Tigers 7, Bulldogs 10
Last clash: Bulldogs 22 bt Tigers 20 at ANZ Stadium (Rd 8, 2009)
TAB SportsBet: Bulldogs $1.45 Tigers $2.65.
FootyTab: Wests Tigers +6.5.

This is a dangerous game for the Bulldogs. Sure, the Tigers are out of the running for the finals after losing their last two games, but they were highly competitive against high-quality teams in both of those matches and they won six straight before that, so they are quite capable of making their last hurrah a successful one.

How competitive the Tigers will be will come down to whether they can maintain their motivation, and since they only have to try to do that for one game - as opposed to the difficulty of staying up for three or four when you can't make it - it is reasonable to assume they will come out firing. The Tigers play with a certain amount of attacking freedom at the best of times, and they are likely to be particularly unhibited here, so if the passes stick the Bulldogs could be doing a lot of chasing.

The Bulldogs have plenty of motivation themselves, of course. If they win, they will clinch the minor premiership, and complete a tremendous rise from wooden spooners last season. But they will have to do without their chief playmaker, injured halfback Brett Kimmorley. That will be difficult, but not nearly as difficult as it would be for, say, the Cowboys to win without Johnathan Thurston, or how it used to be for the Knights when Andrew Johns was out. Kimmorley is a great player, but the Bulldogs are not a one-man band. Daniel Holdsworth can be relied upon to do a reaosnable job in his absence.

The Bulldogs have a five-day turnaround, but short turnarounds haven't stopped them this season. They have won one from one on a five-day, and five from six on six-day turnarounds. The Tigers have only had one more day between games anyway. The Bulldogs deserve warm favouritism, but to win they must pay the Tigers respect first.
 

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