Loser Farah a winner over Ennis for State of Origin
April 17, 2010
Wests Tigers may not have won last night, but this may have been the game in which they proved themselves the real deal - and hooker Robbie Farah, too. In the battle of the NSW hooking rivals - Farah and Canterbury’s Michael Ennis - the Tigers captain scored an impressive points win. That his team failed to get the points shouldn’t worry Blues selectors - or Tigers coach Tim Sheens.
The Tigers were without their first-choice halfback Robert Lui, his replacement Tim Moltzen, and props Keith Galloway, Todd Payten and Jason Cayless, the match was a test of their premiership credentials.
As they lost rookie front-rower Alan Schirnack before kick off, forcing Sheens to call up Willie Mataka.
Add a 60 per cent possession flow to the Bulldogs and some tough calls from referees Jared Maxwell and Bernard Sutton, and the Tigers weren’t entitled to be in the contest until six minutes from full-time.
Perhaps it is an indication of how poorly Canterbury are travelling at the moment that they struggled to put away a team who had tackled themselves to a standstill.
Late tries by Ennis and Brett Kimmorley against a tired defence inflated the scoreline in the dying minutes but until the 75th minute the Bulldogs led just 12-4.
Ennis finished with two tries, but Farah was the pick of the rakes and every time he ran the ball from dummy-half he lifted the tempo of the Tigers attack.
He also came up with a stunning 40/20 kick from dummy-half and was the creative force behind most of his side’s attack.
On the first occasion the Tigers got down the Bulldogs end, Farah stood out of a scrum and after picking up the ball at halfback he toed through a long grubber for star five-eighth Benji Marshall to run onto.
Marshall overran the kick but appeared to be tackled without the ball by Canterbury winger Steve Turner. There was no penalty but Bulldogs fullback Luke Patten knocked on to give the Tigers a rare first-half attacking opportunity near the Canterbury try line.
It was just one of four tackles the Tigers had in their opponents’ 20 metres area in the first half.
In comparison, the Bulldogs had 27 tackles inside the Tigers’ 20 metres during the same period but, despite boasting 60 per cent of possession, their only first half try came in the 35th minute when Ennis scored from a Ben Roberts kick.
Ennis crossed again in the 74th minute off another kick, this time from Kimmorley.
The pair then reversed roles for Kimmorley to score three minutes from full-time to secure just the Bulldogs’ second win of the season.
Asked afterwards about his rivalry with Farah, Ennis said: ‘‘It’s going to go on for the next 10 years. I can’t control that but I certainly enjoyed tonight.’’
However, it was clear how much it felt to him when he and Farah came together in back-play midway through the second half.
After engaging in a bit of push and shove, they exchanged words before play moved on and Lote Tuqiri ran 60 metres to score the Tigers’ lone try, in the 59th minute.
As Marshall was lining up the conversion attempt, Maxwell called out Kimmorley and Ennis and said: ‘‘He [Ennis] has been good all game. Don’t let it get away from him now.’’