Wests Tigers v Roosters
Campbelltown Sports Stadium
Tries, tries and more tries. This is the forecast for the good people of Campbelltown this Sunday when the Roosters travel out to take on the Wests Tigers.
Sure recent history might show it’s two teams coming off a loss, but buckle up as the future foretells a cracking game of razzle-dazzle footy with excitement at every corner.
It was only back in Round 2 when the teams put on a 14-try performance, the match going to the Roosters 44-32 and now, in the re-match, the sides look set to hit similar heights in attack. (But here is the disclaimer: Both sides are playing without first-choice halfbacks this weekend, so let’s cut them some slack if the 14-try barrier isn’t reached or broken.)
Last weekend saw the Tigers beaten in the battle of the big cats in Penrith, a result that slid them down to 7th on the NRL ladder, while the Roosters couldn’t go the full 80 minutes with the Dragons during an Anzac Day classic, leaving them in sixth spot.
Just the baby sum of two differential points separates these two sides on the table, so barring a rare draw the winner will get a handy break over the other and potentially push into the top four.
Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has decided to rest Blake Lazarus from halfback, instead opting for Robbie Farah to move from hooker to take the no.7 jersey. This sees Liam Fulton move to hooker and Mark Flanagan shift into the second row.
Geoff Daniela is also off the bench, with Mitch Brown and Nathan Waters added to the squad.
Sadly, the Roosters have lost the in-form Mitchell Pearce but luckily can replace the halfback with Todd Carney.
His shift up from fullback sees Anthony Minichiello go from wing to the back, Phil Graham shift out to the wing, and Ben Jones come into the side at centre.
Watch out Wests Tigers: For quite some time the Wests Tigers have been the line-break kings but so far this season the crown is sitting on the Roosters’ perch. With a massive 42 line-breaks already this season – that’s six a game – the Roosters rank first in the NRL, making them an extremely dangerous commodity.
Todd Carney leads the way with six line-breaks, Mitch Aubusson and Sam Perrett have five each while Phil Graham and Shaun Kenny-Dowall have four apiece. The good news for the home side is Pearce has seven line-break assists, but he won’t be contributing in this game.
Watch out Roosters: The Wests Tigers will come at you from all over the park so don’t assume you are safe at any time.
While most teams compress their defence when they have a team pinned in their own half, the Roosters need to be wary of a quick shift from the Tigers. With 10 tries scored from over halfway, the Wests Tigers are by far the most prolific long-range scorers in the competition.
The Roosters have conceded four tries this season from this range and if they aren’t careful this number could rise. If Benji Marshall or Farah spot a chance, they’ll try to take it.
Where it will be won: Quite simply, the side that makes the adjustments better will win this match.
The loss of Pearce and the movement from dummy-half for Farah changes how each side will operate, and although both have adequate cover, the shift in attacking approach will provide a few hiccups.
The Tigers get a lot of their punch after Farah exposes holes in and around the ruck and they get to attack against a retreating defence. Liam Fulton is a reasonable player but he, nor any other player they throw in there, is going to be able to replicate Farah’s ability to get the job done. Of course Farah will still be attacking, but from distance, giving defenders more time to adjust and react.
For the Roosters, Pearce’s absence is a major blow. Yes they have Carney, who is also a representative-level player, but after successfully creating a three-pronged attack through these two and Braith Anasta, they now must quickly adjust to having just two. A lot of pressure now falls to Anthony Minichiello to become a link man on wide sweeps, and getting the timing right on these plays can take a while.
The reshuffle will give Carney more of a licence to thrill but also heaps the pressure on him; can he survive it, or will he try too hard and allow it to drown him?
The history: Played 16; Wests Tigers 7, Roosters 9. The Roosters handed the Wests Tigers a 44-32 pummelling earlier this season but still have only won three of the past eight against the Tigers.
There have been four games played at Campbelltown with the spoils shared at two apiece.
Conclusion: This shapes as another tough game to pick, with both teams having legitimate confidence.
The home ground advantage might just tip the scales to the Tigers, although they have been sketchy in the past few weeks. This is certainly not a game to stick your neck out on so just go with your gut and then cross your fingers.
Match officials: Referees – Ashley Klein & Matt Cecchin; Sideline Officials – Steve Chiddy & Luke Potter; Video Ref – Paul Simpkins.
Televised: Fox Sports – Live 2pm
Preview: Wests Tigers v Roosters
VENUE & TIME: Campbelltown Stadium, Sun May 2, 2:00pm (AEST)
COVERAGE: Fox Sports
HEAD TO HEAD: Played 16 – Roosters 9, Tigers 7.
LAST TIME: Round 2, 2010 – Roosters 44-32.
WALKING WOUNDED: The Tigers have seven players of first grade standard in the casualty ward at the moment, including two half-backs in Robert Lui and Tim Moltzen. The latter is gone for the season but Lui is due back any day. In the meantime, Robbie Farah has switched from hooker to No.7 for this game, replacing Blake Lazarus. Farah is the fourth half-back the Tigers have used this season and we’re just eight rounds into it. Talking of halves, the Roosters will be without Mitchell Pearce (shoulder) for at least four weeks. Todd Carney slots in there with Anthony Minichiello back in his old home at fullback.
FORM: Both these teams come in on the back of respectable losses. The Tigers were in their game against Penrith to the death but just lost the ‘big moments’. That’s two defeats in a row for Tim Sheens’ men and while it’s not crisis time yet, a win here is needed to steady some nerves. Roosters coach Brian Smith insists there were plenty of positives to come out of the 28-6 Anzac Day loss to the Dragons, especially the first 40 minutes. He was right to a certain extent, but the Tricolours were still a distant second. Still, if you’d offered Roosters supporters four wins from seven at the start of the season, most would have asked where to sign.
WHO’S HOT: It’s always a risk when you weaken one position to strengthen another, but Tim Sheens felt he had to do something to spark his halves and that’s why Robbie Farah will play 7. It means the NRL’s smartest hooker won’t be seen much at dummy half but his ball skills and strong kicking game make him just as potent at half-back. Liam Fulton will do a good job at hooker, so the Tigers will be well served there. You can hardly call Todd Carney a makeshift half-back given he spent plenty of time there in his Canberra days. But it’s been almost two years since he’s taken on the playmaker’s role in the NRL and there may just be a little bit of rust when he steps into Mitchell Pearce’s shoes. A big game from Lote Tuqiri will clinch him an Australian Test spot, capping a remarkable return to the NRL from that other code where he was starved for possession for eight lonely years.
WE THINK: Most eastern suburbs types lose their bearings travelling to Camperdown, let alone Campbelltown. The Italian loafers do look out of place among
the high top ugh boots, but the Roosters somewhat surprisingly do okay in the south-west. In four journeys down the M5, the boys from Bondi have got the biscuits (or should that be biscottis?) twice. The old ground has been revamped but one thing will never change – the hostile welcome for visiting teams. That might just be enough to give the Tigers the edge in a close one. Tigers by 8
Laurie Daley’s Preview:
Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters, Campbelltown Stadium, Sunday 2pm (EST)
The Tigers are always difficult to beat at Campbelltown and the Roosters will be without Mitchell Pearce, which is a huge blow for them. I am looking forward to watching Carney fill in at halfback and Minichellio playing at fullback. They are very good replacements so the Roosters are lucky in that regard. Will Farah have the same impact on the game from halfback as he does at hooker? The Tigers believe he can. He has played their in the past so it shouldn’t affect him too much. The Tigers need to start winning to avoid losing three or four games in a row, which puts you under a lot of pressure in this competition. Marshall has been a little bit quiet by his lofty standards. But I think it will help him with Farah at halfback. I am tipping Tigers to get the cash.
Tigers v Roosters
April 29, 2010
Sunday, Campbelltown Stadium, 2pm (AEST)
Referees: Ashley Klein and Matt Cecchin
Head to head: Roosters 9, Tigers 7
Last clash: Roosters 44 bt Tigers 32 at Sydney Football Stadium (rd 2, 2010)
TAB Sportsbet: Tigers $1.45, Roosters $2.65
FootyTab: Roosters +6.5
Both teams have got problems in the halves. The Tigers have lost one halfback, Tim Moltzen, and another halfback - Robert Lui - is still not back from injury. A third half, Blake Lazarus, wasn’t considered to be playing well enough and is no longer in the 17. Robbie Farah, switched from hooker, is doing the job at halfback for the time being. The Roosters have lost halfback Mitchell Pearce for a month, through injury, but at least they have been able to move Todd Carney from fullback to halfback and Anthony Minichiello from wing to fullback. Those are pretty good alternatives.
The Roosters have generally been knocking over the lesser teams, but struggling against the top sides. The last four rounds have seen them beat the Broncos, lose to the Panthers, beat the Raiders and lose to the Dragons. Now they have to go to Campbelltown Stadium, one of the grounds opposition teams hate going to the most, to try to knock over a Tigers outfit that will be desperate to win after losing two in a row. The Tigers look to have the advantage in the starting forwards, while the Roosters look to have a better bench. The Tigers are warm - rather than hot - favourites.