willow last edited by
NICHOLLS PUSHES PAIN ASIDE TO LEAD HIS TEAM
By Wayne Cousins
Monday, September 21, 2009
Darren Nicholls pushed aside the personal pain of losing his grandfather to lead Wests Tigers to victory at the Sydney Football Stadium last Friday night.
Just a few hours before the Toyota Cup elimination semi-final against Canberra, Nicholls attended the funeral of his 89-year-old grand-father.
With mixed emotions, the talented half and captain then drove to the stadium to strap on his boots and pull on the seven jersey for the 5.30pm kick-off.
And as he has done all season, Nicholls was again strong with his forwards laying the platform for victory in an impressive first half performance that saw Wests Tigers lead 34-6 at half-time.
“I think our completion rates in the first half were 18 out of 20, that’s the best we have had all year,’’ Nicholls said.
“Canberra had three sets on our line and we did well to hold them out. When we got up their end, we started scoring tries and Jake Mullaney started kicking goals and before we knew it, we had a big lead.”
Nicholls said the talk at half-time was to not dismiss the defending premiers.
Despite the 28 point margin, teams have shown all season that big leads mean nothing in the high scoring Toyota Cup competition. Canberra stormed home in the second half but it was a little too late with Wests Tigers winning 42-34.
“We switched off a bit and gave ourselves a fright but we had just enough lead to hold on,’’ he said.
“We need to get a bit of urgency in the second half and work hard in the wrestle and not switch off after half-time if we do have a good lead.”
Nicholls will lead out the Wests Tigers into battle against St George-Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium this Friday night at 5.30pm in the first Toyota Cup preliminary final. The two teams met for the first time in round 16 with the Dragons winning 26-18.
The Dragons head into the match fresh after beating the Warriors in week one.
"We had a good game against them before and they are a quality side but we are looking forward to the challenge,’’ Nicholls added.
Darren Nicholls will appear on the Barefoot Rugby League Show on Fox this Wednesday night.