U20S ENJOY A GREAT JOURNEY RIDE
By Wayne Cousins
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Wests Tigers are just 80 minutes away from completing a fantastic and exciting journey in the 2009 Toyota Cup competition.
The coaching staff of head coach Grant Jones, assistant coach Michael Howell, football manager Darren Mooney and strength and conditioning trainer Sean Burns have done a magnificent job in producing one of the most dynamic teams seen in the competition’s two year history.
Wests Tigers finished the regular season in fourth place on 35 points through 15 wins, eight losses and one draw from 24 matches.
Their season started with a 50-10 loss to premiers Canberra at Campbelltown. An early 10-0 lead was quickly evaporated as the Raiders hit full throttle. Lock Matt Hyland gave an early indication of his defensive qualities with 45 tackles.
Round two saw Wests Tigers open their account with a 22-6 victory over North Qld in Townsville. Five-eighth Robert Lui and full-back Jake Mullaney crossed for tries with winger Bodie Clarke making 19 runs.
Week three saw Wests Tigers record an 18-10 victory over the Sydney Roosters at the SFS. Centre Junior Roqica snared a double. Hyland topped the tackle count for the second time in three matches with 44 tackles.
A trip to the foot of the mountains in round four saw barnstorming second-rower Jason Schirnack score three tries in a 33-26 victory.
It was then time to cross the Spit Bridge where Manly handed them a 34-4 defeat. Hyland topped the tackle count with 48 tackles.
The return to Leichhardt Oval for the first time in 2009 saw Wests Tigers centre Jake Clarke grab a double in the 38-22 round six loss to Melbourne. That tackling machine Hyland led the way again with 44 tackles.
A try and 41 tackles to Hyland saw Wests Tigers beat Newcastle 46-34 at Campbelltown in round seven. Starting prop Andrew Fifita had a big game with 15 runs and three line breaks while Mullaney kicked seven from eight goals.
Hyland was at it again with 34 tackles in the 30-27 loss to the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in round eight. Starting prop Aaron Woods had a big game with 24 runs and making 25 tackles.
Following a bye in round nine, the chance to play on the historic SCG turf awaited the Wests Tigers in round 10. Mullaney and second-rower Simon Dwyer proved a handful for the Rabbitohs in the 24-22 win with seven line breaks between them.
Round 11 saw Brisbane beat Wests Tigers 40-8 at Campbelltown. A rare highlight on a disappointing day was Hyland’s 41 tackles.
A trip to Auckland in round 12 saw Wests Tigers record a 24-24 draw with the Warriors in wet conditions. Andrew Fifita scored two tries and was lucky not to grab four.
A quick turnaround saw Wests Tigers run in seven tries in a 34-10 victory over Penrith at Leichhardt Oval in round 13. Centre Joel Wisbey was a handful for the Warriors, making 20 runs.
Schirnack grabbed his second hat-trick of the season in the 24-18 victory over Parramatta at Parramatta Stadium in round 14. Winger Monikura Tikinau found plenty of open space in his 16 runs.
Round 15 saw Simon Dwyer make his NRL debut. The Toyota Cup game will be remembered for the stellar performance of Lui, who tormented the Melbourne Storm with his creativity, scoring three tries in one of the team’s finest wins of the season.
Hyland produced another huge effort, making 19 runs and 43 tackles.
Wests Tigers had their three game winning streak ended in a 26-18 loss to St George-Illawarra Dragons in round 16 at the SFS. Schirnack led the tackle count with 36 in another impressive display while captain Darren Nicholls, Lui and Mullaney crossed for tries.
Round 17 saw Wests Tigers return to the winners circle with a 26-22 victory over South Sydney at ANZ Stadium. Nicholls and Dwyer had solid games with Hyland making the most runs with 20.
Following a bye in round 18, Wests Tigers turned on the razzle dazzle in a 44-22 win over Nth Qld at Leichhardt. Wests Tigers scored eight tries to four with Hyland making 45 tackles and winger Junior Roqica making 15 runs.
Wests Tigers overcame a poor first half performance to record a 21-18 victory over Canberra at Canberra Stadium in round 20. Mullaney added two more tries to his growing tally whilst Hyland was unstoppable in defence with 39 tackles.
The sin-binning of captain Nicholls late in the game allowed competition leaders Manly to escape with a 40-34 victory at the SFS in round 21. Hyland (44 tackles), Lui and Mullaney caused plenty of heartache for the Sea Eagles.
Round 22 saw the Wests Tigers give the Sydney Roosters a good start before running them down in a 56-32 victory at the SFS. Mullaney scored two of the team’s 10 tries and kicked eight from 10 goals.
Lui was called up to make his NRL debut in round 23 but the team soldiered on to crush the hapless Sharks 44-6 at Toyota Park. Dashing full-back Mullaney scored three tries and kicked six goals while prop Andrew Fifita made 18 strong runs.
Round 24 saw Wests Tigers suffer a 28-26 loss to Parramatta at the SFS despite two more tries and three goals from Mullaney.
In an entertaining display at Skilled Park, Wests Tigers crushed the Gold Coast Titans 48-8 in round 25. Mullaney grabbed another hat-trick and kicked six from nine goals.
The final round saw Wests Tigers run in 10 tries in a 58-16 victory over the Bulldogs. Lui, Andrew Fifita and winger Joel Jackson scored two tries each while Nicholls kicked nine out of 10 goals.
Despite finishing fourth, Wests Tigers were forced to travel to Skilled Park to play fifth placed Brisbane in week one of the finals. A poor start saw the Broncos build up a commanding lead before going on to win 46-22 against a disappointing Wests Tigers. Hyland was again at his best in defence with 41 tackles.
Facing the fear of elimination, Wests Tigers produced an outstanding first half performance to lead Canberra 36-4 at half-time in week two of the finals. The defending premiers stormed home in the second half but Wests Tigers had enough class and juice left to make it through to the preliminary final with a 42-34 victory. Mullaney scored three first half tries and kicked seven from seven.
With a Grand Final spot on offer, another polished first half performance and a high completion rate saw the Wests Tigers knock over the highly rated St George-Illawarra Dragons 36-12 at ANZ Stadium.
Dwyer crossed for two tries and Mullaney kicked six from seven goals on the back of some smart play by halves Nicholls and Lui.
All that awaits now is the final chapter in a fascinating year.
Wests Tigers Road to the Grand Final
Rd 1: lost to Canberra 50-10, Campbelltown Stadium.
Rd 2: beat Nth Qld 22-6, Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Rd 3: beat Sydney Roosters 18-10, Sydney Football Stadium.
Rd 4: beat Penrith 33-26, CUA Stadium.
Rd 5: lost to Manly 34-4, Brookvale Oval.
Rd 6: lost to Melbourne, 38-22, Leichhardt Oval
Rd 7: beat Newcastle 46-34, Campbelltown Stadium.
Rd 8: lost to Bulldogs 30-27, ANZ Stadium.
Rd 9: bye
Rd 10: beat South Sydney 24-22, SCG
Rd 11: lost to Brisbane 40-8, Campbelltown Stadium.
Rd 12: drew 24-24 with Warriors, Mt Smart Stadium
Rd 13: beat Penrith 34-10, Leichhardt Oval
Rd 14: beat Parramatta 24-18, Parramatta Stadium.
Rd 15: beat Melbourne 38-28, Olympic Park.
Rd 16: lost to St George-Illawarra 26-18.
Rd 17: beat South Sydney 26-22, ANZ Stadium
Rd 18: bye
Rd 19: beat Nth Qld 44-22, Leichhardt Oval
Rd 20: beat Canberra 21-18, Canberra Stadium.
Rd 21: lost to Manly 40-34, Sydney Football Stadium
Rd 22: beat Sydney Roosters 56-32, Sydney Football Stadium.
Rd 23: beat Cronulla 44-6, Toyota Park
Rd 24: lost to Parramatta 28-26, Sydney Football Stadium.
Rd 25: beat Gold Coast 48-8, Skilled Park
Rd 26: beat Bulldogs 58-16, Sydney Football Stadium.
Finals Week 1: lost to Brisbane 46-22, Skilled Park.
Finals Week 2: beat Canberra 42-32, Sydney Football Stadium.
Finals Week 3: beat St George-Illawarra Dragons 36-12, ANZ Stadium.
willow last edited by
It’s been an impressive season for the Tigers and they have just one more game to go to complete what no one would have predicted them to do at the start of the season. Fingers crossed the boys can bring home the premiership.
Yeah I’m nervous for them, have a big game boys….