Woods throws weight behind Tigers push for finals berth
July 23, 2012
Boom Wests Tigers prop Aaron Woods insists winning tonight’s match against North Queensland is far too important to be worried about proving his representative credentials against the Test front-row pairing of Matt Scott and James Tamou.
Woods, who spent time in the NSW camp during this year’s Origin series, is considered a Blues and Australian player in waiting, and a strong performance against Scott and Tamou would put his name in the frame for the October 13 Test against New Zealand in Townsville.
However, the 21-year-old said he was more concerned about trying to help the Tigers cement their place in the top eight by beating the sixth-placed Cowboys.
The Tigers are eighth on 22 points, and have the opportunity to open a four-point buffer on the Warriors, Titans, Knights, Raiders and Dragons, who are all on 20 points following other weekend results.
A win would put them level with North Queensland and Manly on 24 points, although they are unlikely to climb higher than eighth place tonight as the Cowboys (+83) and Sea Eagles (+33) have superior for-and-against records to the Tigers (+4).
However, a loss would leave the Tigers in danger of falling out of the top eight as they play third-placed South Sydney next Sunday.
‘‘It would be a disappointing year if we don’t make the eight but we aren’t thinking about that now - we are just looking to win each week,’’ Woods said. ‘‘It is up to us now, we have put ourselves in that situation. It is in our own hands so we can decide our own fate.’’
Asked about packing down opposite Scott and Tamou, Woods said: ‘‘You always get excited about playing against the best so I can’t wait. They are the two form front-rowers of the competition, one played for NSW and the other for Queensland, so it will be good to have a big crack against them. But, in saying that, I don’t treat it any different to any other game. The main focus for us is just to win.’’
Woods welcomed the return of Kiwis and England internationals Adam Blair (suspension) and Gareth Ellis (foot) but the Tigers will be without Australian prop Keith Galloway (shoulder), while coach Tim Sheens has opted for Joel Reddy on the bench ahead of Ray Cashmere.
‘‘I have missed playing with Gareth, he is the best,’’ Woods said of Ellis, who has not played since round five. ‘‘He is an inspirational leader, and always leads from the front.’’
Returning Wests Tigers duo Adam Blair and Gareth Ellis have North Queensland Cowboys on high alert
July 23, 2012 12:00AM
THE return of international stars Adam Blair and Gareth Ellis for Wests Tigers has North Queensland on high alert tonight as the Cowboys aim to leapfrog Brisbane and move back into the NRL top four.
Kiwi Test star Blair is coming back from suspension while Ellis is due to return after 15 weeks out with a broken foot, bolstering a Tigers pack which Cowboys coach Neil Henry claims dominated his men in their previous outing earlier this season.
With props Aaron Woods and Keith Galloway shading North Queensland’s Origin duo James Tamou and Matt Scott at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Henry is hopeful his big men can return serve at Dairy Farmers Stadium tonight.
But he is also aware that the Tigers are at full strength in the forwards and being led around the park by hooker Robbie Farah who is high on confidence following his breakout State of Origin series.
“I think Woods and Galloway got tremendous metres and we were below par I thought,” Henry said.
"But it was still with four minutes to go 20-18 and they scored the late try and then the game was done.
"We had our opportunities there. We dropped a bomb for six points and then we threw an intercept to (Lote) Tuqiri. There’s two converted tries and there is the difference in the game.
“We grafted away and scored some nice points from our end and defended reasonably well but we have reflected on that and looked at a little bit of that vision of that game.”
One big difference since that round 12 encounter was that back then it was the fifth straight win of a seven-game streak by the Tigers. Tonight they are coming in off one win in their past four games.
But for both clubs it is an incredible opportunity to buy breathing space in the top eight following the ninth-placed Warriors’ shock loss.
The Tigers can move two games clear of ninth, while the Cowboys can move three games clear and also overtake the Broncos to move into fourth place.
“It’s a really bunched competition. Everyone that is close enough is trying to stay in the eight and trying to get into the four,” Henry said.
“We obviously need to win a few more games yet.”
The Tigers are somewhat of a bogy team for the Cowboys and Henry remains at a loss to explain why they have managed just three wins in the past 15 clashes between the 2005 grand finalists.
“It’s always an interesting clash against the Tigers. I think they’ve won the last five against us and eight out of the last 10,” he said.
"But I think as far as home games it’s eight wins and four losses at home for us.
“It’s one of these games, for one reason or another we haven’t been able to string too many wins against them in recent times.”