Monday, 10 March 2014
Written by Peter Dickinson From TigerNation On BlogSport
So Sunday’s NRL opener with the Dragons has come and gone. For as high as the anticipation of the Round 1 fixture was, it seemed better to simply forget with as much ease as possible what occurred at ANZ Stadium yesterday.
A bright opening, highlighted by a well constructed try involving James Tedesco for Pat Richards to score. That man Tedesco did it all on his own on a kick return, racing the best part of 60 metres to double the lead to 12-0. From there though, the problems ensued. Thanks largely to ill-discipline, the Tigers invited the Dragons back into the contest with too much ease. In fact neither defense did much of any significance. The first half resembling an open door policy as 38 points were conceded.
The second half proved an even worse spectacle, for the Tigers at least, who after getting back into the contest at 26-24, simply fell away alarmingly. The Tigers continuing to leak points and possession to the Dragons with unimaginable ease. In the end the 20 point gap between the two sides was not an unfair indication. In fact it could’ve been bigger.
For the Tigers there were few positives to note from this game. The best was arguably James Tedesco who proved he’s capable of going to the next level in 2014. His first half performance was class. He laid on a try for Pat Richards with great judgement as he schemed across the field. Then did it all on his own not long after as he took advantage of some slack kick chase defense. Tedesco was the only constant threat for the Tigers in attack all afternoon.
Whilst they were on the field, Martin Taupau and James Gavet also showed good signs. Their strong running and ability to offload didn’t go unnoticed. The duo look set to compliment first choice props Aaron Woods and Keith Galloway through out the year.
The biggest issue however for the Tigers will be what they did without the ball. Defensively we were poor. Perhaps it was the speed of the ruck, but what we saw defensively just didn’t cut it. In the first half alone it seemed all the Dragons had to do was simply get down to the red zone and they would score. The second half fared no better for the Tigers but at least they did manage to force the Dragons into showing more patience. In the end the sheer weight of field position the Dragons were given took its toll though.
Another concern was the discipline. It seems the new rule changes heavily advantage the attacking team and there’s not a lot the defending team can do other than not give penalties away. It looks a little like T20 cricket in the fact that rules heavily favour one element of the game. In this case, the attacking team. The biggest reason for yesterday’s loss was our ill discipline. Either it was penalties or turnovers. It all snowballed and the speed of the game that the attacking team shows just can’t be sustained. That though is our fault.
Another issue in yesterday’s struggle was the form of our spine. Whilst Tedesco was great, the other 3 (Braith Anasta, Luke Brooks and Robbie Farah) did not win their battles. Anasta struggled to really get in the game. Because of the struggles of the side in general, Luke Brooks never really made much of an impression either. The key one though was Farah. He was disappointing. Never one for making excuses, you could forgive Robbie for being a little off the pace given the past week. For the most part our 5th tackle options were poor as well. When we needed a play to build pressure, we failed in that clutch moment to execute correctly.
The only injury concern of note to come out of the game yesterday was the neck injury/concussion for Liam Fulton. Coach Mick Potter has labelled him “Questionable” for next weekend’s trip to the Gold Coast. It was a most unfortunate collision with James Tedesco which did the damage. To make matters worse, the Tigers conceded a try one tackle later. Although in my opinion the club probably has a right to a “please explain” to the referees boss after it appeared Fulton had suffered a head injury. Yet referee Ashley Klein allowed the game to continue (a little strange given the NRL’s hardline stance on head injuries), only checking on the injured Tiger after a try had been scored a tackle later.
All in all though, there is a LOT to work on for the Tigers this week. It was a poor season opener. We looked well below where we’re capable of being at. With a bit of luck we could get some players back next week. David Nofoaluma, Tim Simona and Keith Galloway are all listed as due back for Round 2. We’ll need their talents against a dangerous looking Titans outfit.