Wests Tigers v Knights: Five key points
Sat 21 May, 2016, 7:11pm
By Jack Brady , National Correspondent , NRL.com
A 15-man Wests Tigers outfit have fought back to sink the Newcastle Knights 20-12 on Saturday afternoon. In a game where concussions ran rampant among the Tigers’ ranks, Jason Taylor’s men were able to stay in the game and take their chance when it mattered.
Tigers hang tough for two points
Losing Ava Seumanufagai (twice), Matt Ballin and Elijah Taylor to concussion tests throughout the game – with the former two eventually ruled out – the Tigers still produced an eight-point victory.
Without Robbie Farah, James Tedesco, Curtis Sironen, Kevin Naiqama and Sauaso Sue on top of that, the Tigers made the most of their opportunities which was all coach Taylor could ask for.
“It was a win and we’re happy with that. There was a lot of good stuff done in the game. There was a lot of great efforts particularly from individuals carrying injuries or playing extra minutes,” he said.
“We were knocked around by concussions – in regards to guys having to leave the field. But we got the job done. We’re happy with that but we have more in us. We can be better and that’s what we’re striving for.”
Positive signs not enough for Newcastle
The Knights didn’t take their opportunities when it counted and it cost them an almighty bounce back victory, just six days after suffering their second-biggest loss in their history against the Sharks.
Nathan Brown was absolutely buoyed by the performances of young front-rowers Daniel Saifiti (aged 19) and Josh King (21) crediting them for turning the game around for the Knights when all appeared lost.
Saifiti’s performance in particular was memorable considering the young Fijian international produced a game-high 237 metres.
“At 12-10 we were the more dominant side and we didn’t take our chance when we had it. Unfortunately for us the other side then took their chance. Three tries to two, is it a fair result? Probably on the start of the game you’d say it was a touch fair,” Brown said.
“We started the game to a level that’s not acceptable. We then put our two 20-year-old front-rowers on and they turned the game in our favour.”
The importance of penalty goals
Their value is argued almost every game but in this instance the Tigers’ penalty goals certainly helped their cause in the grand scheme of things.
Jordan Rankin’s two penalty goals in the 26th and 36th minute were what separated the two clubs at half-time and kept them in touch when Dane Gagai scored early in the second half for Newcastle.
The Tigers’ penalty goals were a safety net of sorts and offered a buffer for Rankin when he failed to convert Josh Addo-Carr’s 62nd minute try.
When Luke Brooks scored seven minutes later, Rankin’s conversation pushed the Tigers’ lead out to eight – an unattainable lead at that for the Knights to peg back.
Knights’ 211-minute point hiatus ends
Another positive for the Knights remains they were finally able to post points after a 211-minute spell without.
Tyler Randell’s 61st minute try against the Sea Eagles on Anzac Day was the last instance of a Knights try before Trent Hodkinson’s effort 30 minutes into the game against the Tigers.
Throw in 38-0 and 62-0 losses to the Roosters and Sharks respectively in between tries and you can’t blame the Knights for celebrating a little harder than usual.
Ballin return short lived
As mentioned, Ballin failed to finish the game after suffering a concussion. What was even crueller was that the veteran rake’s club debut ended just four minutes after he entered the field of play.
On top of that, it was Ballin’s first game in almost nine months in the NRL after an ACL injury suffered late last year while playing for Sea Eagles threatened to derail his career.
His short stint won’t cost him his place in first grade it would appear though with usual hooker Farah expected to be named for Origin I on Monday, meaning he won’t be allowed to feature in the Tigers’ Round 12 clash against Brisbane.
Biggest improvement from this game.
No points conceded in the 5 min period before halftime, and the 5 min period straight after halftime.
I wonder how long this will continue.
I know I bring it up a bit, it has to be fixed. It has influenced too many games this year already, resulting in having to chase down a 12 point or more margin.