Wests Tigers v Broncos preview
By Greg Prichard,
Wed 24th April, 5:30pm
Wests Tigers v Broncos
The Tigers face a massive challenge in coming weeks, starting with this very important game. They will again be without the injured Benji Marshall, but they have somehow got to overcome that to be competitive and, hopefully for them, win.
The Tigers have lost three in a row, against the Sea Eagles, Storm and Dragons. To be fair, they were in the game for a long time against the Storm before being overwhelmed in the closing stages, and they came back in the second half to make a game of it against the Dragons, but that is a big part of the problem for them. They aren’t playing for anything like 80 minutes.
The only wins the Tigers have had this season were against the Eels and Panthers, which is proving not much of a recommendation for anything. It looked before the start of the season that they would struggle to make the finals, even with Marshall and Robbie Farah in their side, and that is how it appears to be turning out.
The jury is still out on whether the Broncos are a finals team, but after losing three of their first four games they’ve recovered well to beat the Titans and the Cowboys. Their side is pretty settled now, and they are getting good direction from established team leaders Sam Thaiday, Peter Wallace and Justin Hodges. Unless the defence of the Tigers improves, it is going to be hard for the gold and blacks to stop the Broncos from accruing the points they will need to win this game.
The Tigers have made a couple of key positional changes for this match. James Tedesco moves from wing to fullback, and Tim Moltzen from fullback to halfback. Matt Uati comes in on the wing. Second-rower Bodene Thompson and bench forward Liam Fulton are back from injury in the 19-man squad, with Matt Bell out.
Meanwhile the Broncos have added Josh McGuire to the bench in an 18-man squad, but are otherwise unchanged.
Watch Out Wests Tigers: Hodges is looking very dangerous at the moment. He’s warming up for State of Origin. In the win over the Titans he made 121 metres from 14 runs, plus one line-break and two offloads. Against the Cowboys he came up with 134 metres from 17 runs, and one offload. It’s rare that he doesn’t at least push the defence back and put it under pressure for the next play. Opposite number Chris Lawrence will have his hands full containing the veteran.
Watch Out Broncos: Robbie Farah was most responsible for dragging the Tigers back into the game against the Dragons. He came up with one line-break and one offload as he schemed for a way through the defence. With no Marshall, the Tigers will depend heavily on Farah making something happen for them in this game.
Plays To Watch: Youngster Curtis Sironen showed some promising signs at five-eighth for the Tigers against the Dragons. He will be much better off for the run, and has the ability, with his big frame, to draw multiple defenders and get the ball away to supports in the outside backs.
Corey Norman might be a better five-eighth than he is a fullback, but he is getting more used to wearing the No.1 jumper. He racked up 199 metres against the Titans and 172 more against the Cowboys. Norman is becoming increasingly threatening when he runs the ball.
Key Match-Up: There is a massive difference in experience in the halves, when you compare the combination of Sironen and Moltzen for the Tigers with Scott Prince and Peter Wallace for the Broncos. Heck, Prince won a premiership with the Tigers when Sironen was only 12 years old. Big task facing the Tigers’ duo!
Where It Will Be Won: In the head. The Broncos, when they get rolling, are a relentless side that keep pushing the pace of the game for 80 minutes. The Tigers haven’t been committing for long enough in games, and if they drift in and out of this one, they will lose again.
The History: Played 20; Broncos 15, Wests Tigers 4, drawn 1. The Broncos have won six of the past nine clashes between the teams.
Match Officials: Referees – Ben Cummins & Gavin Morris; Sideline Officials – Dan Eastwood & Dave Ryan; Video Referees – Paul Mellor & Luke Patten.
Televised: Fox Sports 1 – Live, 7.30pm.
The Way We See It: Not much the Wests Tigers have done recently generates confidence in their ability to win this match, and the continued unavailability of Marshall just adds to their woes. The Broncos are looking fairly solid at the moment, and can get the job done on the road. Broncos by eight points.
*Statistics: NRL Stats
Preview: Wests Tigers v Broncos
Last Updated 23/04/2013 1:43 PM
HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 20, Broncos 15, Wests Tigers 4, drawn 1
LAST TIME: Broncos 18 def Wests Tigers 14, Round 6, 2012 at Allianz Stadium
MISSING IN ACTION: With Marshall and Anasta keeping each other company in the sick bay, Mick Potter has named a brand new halves pairing.
Tim Moltzen moves from fullback to join Curtis Sironen at halfback while Matt Utai comes in on the wing to cover for James Tedesco who shifts to fullback.
The fit-again Bodene Thompson and Liam Fulton also return to the 19-man squad.
Meanwhile Anthony Griffin has named an unchanged starting XIII but has added Josh McGuire to the Broncos bench.
The Tigers have scored just 24 points in their last three outings; they lost on each occasion. The only scalps they’ve claimed this year are those of the Panthers and Eels - who have just three wins between them.
They did push the Storm hard for long periods before eventually succumbing to the pressure in the closing stages.
It must also be remembered that they came agonisingly close to completing a second-half comeback against the Dragons.
But therein lies the problem; this competition does not reward nearly men. A full 80-minute performance is required in every one of their 22 games this season.
The Broncos had their own jitters earlier in the year when they lost three of their first four.
They’ve bounced back with wins over Titans and the Cowboys and their left edge has continually caused headaches for the opposition, especially in round four when they threatened to spoil the Storm’s unbeaten run.
Considering the Broncos sit six places higher than the Tigers in seventh spot, it’s interesting that their attack has produced just 13 more points.
But that’s the only similarity we can draw between these two.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers have conceded a whopping 143 points, just eight less than the worst defensive side so far - the Raiders.
Meanwhile, the Broncos have conceded just four more than the competition-leading Storm (90).
We don’t think it will take long before the Broncos do eventually open the flood gates and start scoring more tries.
Centre Justin Hodges is starting to hit his straps heading into the build-up for Origin and we expect he will continue to lift those around him.
On the opposite side of the field Josh Hoffman is settling into the wing position quite nicely, as has Corey Norman in the No 1 jersey.
But that’s not the only problem Wests will have to deal with; their inexperienced halves combination stands to be shown up big time in this one.
In terms of experience, the Tigers pairing are just children compared to Peter Wallace and Scott Prince, who won a premiership with the Tigers when Sironen was 12.
With those veterans firing the likes of Sam Thaiday, Ben Hannant, Matt Gillette, Corey Parker and Alex Glenn into the defence with all sorts of angles and passing plays, the Broncos should have dominance up front.
It’s part of the reason why the men from Brisbane have won six of the past nine clashes between the teams and we don’t expect the trend to be broken this time around.
Broncos by 12.