Weekly Notebook: Round Two

Dan Talintyre

Fri 13th March, 12:57PM

While it might not have necessarily been the most convincing of performances against the Gold Coast Titans, Wests Tigers will head into their first home match of 2015 with somewhat of a rare confidence — a win in Round 1 to start the year.

Since the start of 2011, Wests Tigers have only managed one win from their opening games of the season, coming against the Cronulla Sharks in 2012. Eerily, that win too was by a single-point (although perhaps not as dramatic as last Saturday night’s heroics from Pat Richards), and the self-belief gained from an opening round win wasn’t lost on the players at all this week.

“It’s always good to win Round 1,” said captain Robbie Farah during the week.

“It’s probably even better to win away from home, up there, which is always a tough place to go and try to get a win to start the season.

“I guess, going into that game, many people thought we were morals to win, but we never took it that way and the Gold Coast certainly didn’t play that way.

"They made it really tough for us, and it was a really tough game.

“It was scrappy from our end, and a game that we probably got away with in the end, to be honest. We were really poor in the first half, but much better in the second, and got ourselves in a position to win the game there.

“We still made it hard on ourselves in that last 10 minutes, though.

“But I guess, regardless of the performance, the most important thing from our point of view was to walk away with the two points,” he said.

“Now we’ve just to improve week-in and week-out.”

That, of course, is the big challenge looming for Jason Taylor’s side this Monday night as they look to chalk up back-to-back wins to start season 2015.

Wests Tigers haven’t done that since 2008 and only twice in their 15-year history, and they certainly won’t get any favours from a Dragons side who hold a 100 percent winning record at Campbelltown Sports Stadium against Wests Tigers.

Paul McGregor’s side showed glimpses of potential in their Round 1 loss to the Melboune Storm — going down 12-4 in the end, but still offering plenty in both attack and defence, something Taylor commented on during the week.

“I thought the Dragons actually did okay in that match,” said Taylor.

“You know you’ve done really well when you’ve held the Melbourne Storm to just two tries and that was really good from them.

"They’ll be disappointed they didn’t get more points on the board and that’s what everyone seems to be talking about, so I suppose that’s where they’re going to try and improve.

“So we know we’ll need to be good defensively this week.”

Wests Tigers hold an extremely strong record in recent years at Campbelltown, winning all but six of their last 19 matches at the venue.

They are yet to beat St. George-Illawarra there, though, with the Dragons recording 36-24 and 42-8 victories when they met in 2000 and 2002 respectively.

Wests Tigers also, interestingly, have struggled playing Monday night football, with just two wins from their last 11 matches — both against the Parramatta Eels (including last year’s Easter Monday afternoon match at ANZ Stadium).

Tickets for our Round 2 game against the Dragons are on sale now! Pre-sale General Admission tickets are $22, cheaper than at the gate, so click here to secure your seat and save!

Wests Tigers Round 2 Fixtures

NRL — Monday, March 16, 7:00pm vs. St. George-Illawarra Dragons (H)

NYC — Monday, March 16, 4:45pm vs. St. George-Illawarra Dragons (H)

NSW Cup — Saturday, March 14, 3:00pm AEDT, vs. Wentworthville Magpies (H)

What To Watch for This Week

1. Benji Marshall’s return to Campbelltown

While he’s already made his (successful) return against Wests Tigers in Round 20 last year, former Club halfback and Life Member Benji Marshall will make his return to Campbelltown Sports Stadium for the first time this weekend. Marshall made his debut at the ground in Round 20, 2003, and also holds an impressive win-loss record at the venue — winning 20 of his 28 games there.

2. Luke Brooks’ Kicking Game

By his own admission during the week, Brooks had an “off night” with the boot against the Titans and will be looking to bounce back stronger this weekend against the Dragons. Having the likes of Mitchell Moses, Robbie Farah and James Tedesco around him will certainly help that, and if reports surrounding the injury of Dragons fullback Josh Dugan are correct, then the reigning Dally M Rookie of the Year will have the opportunity to target an out-of-position player on the night. McGregor certainly has plenty of options if Dugan is ruled out — Jason Nightingale or even youngster Peter Mata’utia — but Brooks’ strong kicking game could certainly hold a key advantage in Monday night’s match.

3. The Clash of the Fijian Flyers

One is 197cm. One is 179cm. Both are terrific athletes and huge inclusions for their sides in season 2015, and it’ll be fascinating to see the battle that goes on between Kevin Naiqama and Eto Nabuli. Both players have had an impressive pre-season and have earned spots on the wing in Round 1; the question now being as to which player will prove superior on the night. Nabuli seemingly has the advantage in terms of a cross-field kick, but Naiqama has a terrific leap for a shorter player and is one of the strongest defenders in the side. His strength in attack and ability to find the try-line is also superb, so certainly take your eyes off the game when the ball moves to their side of the field on the night!

Video of the Week

Off the back of a monstrous performance that included 206 metres and 31 tackles, Wests Tigers forward Aaron Woods spoke to the media earlier in the week to reflect back on Round 1 and discuss the Club’s first home game of 2015.

It’s a Big Week For — James Tedesco

Returning to the ground that not only saw him grow up through the junior grades at Western Suburbs but also suffer a terribly unfortunate knee injury against the Canberra Raiders in Round 16 last year, it’s certainly a big week for local junior James Tedesco. The Camden Rams product looked strong with limited work to do last week — including a second-half try — and will be keen to get another solid 80-minute performance under his belt. Interesting, Tedesco will be looking to score the first NRL try of his career at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, although he did cross for a try recently in the Club’s trial match.

They Said It

“To be honest, it was the best feeling really, getting a Round 1 spot last week with a fully fit team. I was always going to plug along. I was always going to keep fighting for that first-grade jersey. I never wanted to leave here — the Wests Tigers always felt like home so to come back was perfect…” — Brenden Santi


Follow the action across all our social media accounts on Saturday and Monday with the hashtag #WTLive. Click here to follow the Club on Twitter for all live scores and commentary.

We’re also LIVE STREAMING Saturday’s NSW Cup game from 3:00pm, so tune in and support the boys as they look to make it back-to-back wins!

Watch live at www.weststigers.com.au/video/livestream (or click here)