Tigers show defensive strength to match their attacking flair
April 11, 2010
This was a very good night for the Wests Tigers. It wasn’t a pretty win; but it’s hard to be entertaining when you don’t have the football.
Renowned for their brilliant attacking flair and ability to outscore even the best of opponents, the Tigers were forced to win this one with their defence.
In the steamy, tropical conditions, they tackled their hearts out and should gain a lot of confidence from a victory of this nature.
The Cowboys dominated possession in the early stages of the match, forcing the Tigers into three consecutive line drop-outs. At one stage of the first half they were also favoured by a 5-1 penalty count.
Despite a mountain of quality time at the attacking end of the field, the Cowboys never looked like scoring a try.
Their failure to breach the Tigers’ defensive line in the first 40 minutes caused them no end of frustration. They looked irritated and confused. This soon led to a drop in confidence levels.
I couldn’t believe it when after only 25 minutes, and trailing 10-0 on the scoreboard, the Cowboys elected to kick a penalty goal from close range rather than applying more attacking pressure to get themselves a badly needed try. The Tigers must have been giggling.
Shortly afterwards the home side lost their chief playmaker Johnathan Thurston to injury. The Cowboys’ mentality for the rest of the first half showed aggravation and annoyance. They tried hard, but their football was frantic and their discipline deteriorated.
Their second half was slightly better, but then again they were gifted a glut of possession courtesy of a string of penalties.
Hooker Aaron Payne moved into the halfback role and did a reasonable job steering the side around the park. They looked far more composed during this period and managed a couple of tries to get themselves back within six points on the scoreboard.
Again, we saw how important Thurston and injured fullback Matty Bowen are to the fortunes of this team. Without them the Cowboys rank as wooden spoon contenders.
I didn’t like their attack at all last night. Their scattergun approach will not stand up under pressure. If anything they run themselves ragged rather than put real pressure on their opponents.
It was controlled performance by the Tigers. They were forced to do a mountain of tackling but handled the extra workload with ease.
Their attacking opportunities were limited. At one stage of the match they were on the wrong end of a 10-4 penalty count and had made more than 70 more tackles than their opponents. Fatigue from all the extra defending meant they were somewhat conservative when they did have the ball in hand.
They too lost their halfback to injury early in the contest when Tim Moltzen suffered a serious knee injury, but playmakers Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah ensured it was business as usual.
When they did get a chance to attack they were deadly. Marshall had a big hand in three of his team’s four tries. Farah annoyed the Cowboys with his neat passing and quick surges out of dummy half.
Their left-field attack with centre Chris Lawrence (two tries) and Lote Tuqiri (one try) is as dangerous as any team in the NRL.
There are a lot of points in these boys. If they had the amount of ball the Cowboys enjoyed I dare say they would’ve won by a big space.
He is pretty spot on with his analysis.