Wests Tigers will be looking to build on their success from Round 1 this Sunday night when they take on the New Zealand Warriors at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
It was a strong start to the 2019 season for Wests Tigers last week with the home side producing a dominant second half display to defeat the Sea Eagles in wet conditions at Leichhardt Oval — a good platform for their first game under new Coach Michael Maguire and certainly something to build off this coming week.
The New Zealand Warriors also come in to the game off the back of an opening round win, with their thrashing of the Bulldogs putting them on top of the ladder.
The home side are still missing a couple of key players including David Nofoaluma, Chris Lawrence and Jacob Liddle but are boosted by the possible return of captain Moses Mbye, after the fullback was named in jersey 18. Maguire has named an unchanged lineup from last week, but that could change with Mbye impressing at training this week and firming as a likely starter for Sunday’s game at fullback.
Mbye feeling confident ahead of probable injury return
Stephen Kearney’s side are also unchanged after their last start win, but do have the possibility of bringing in Isaiah Papali’i (disciplinary) and Isaac Luke (knee) to the side after both players were named in the reserves for the first time this year.
Wests Tigers will also need to be on guard against the new halves combination of the visitors, who impressed last week against the Bulldogs. Playing as the dominant controlling half, Blake Green registered a number of try assists while rookie Adam Keighran scored a try and six goals to help his side to a 34-point victory.
The two teams last faced in the trials at the beginning of the month in Whangarei with the home side proving too good — Wests Tigers fighting back late to make it 26-16 against a strong Warriors side. Historically, however, the two sides have been far more level with Wests Tigers winning 15 of their matchups and the Warriors 14.
Last year, the two sides only had encounter in Round 9 with the Warriors winning at home, but prior to that it was four straight wins for Wests Tigers — including a number of big wins at Campbelltown throughout the past four years.
Date — Sunday, March 24, 2019
Time — 6:10pm AEST
Venue — Campbelltown Sports Stadium
TV, RADIO AND LIVE STREAM INFORMATION
TV — Live via FOX League (Ch.502)
Radio — AM 702 ABC Grandstand, AM 2GB 873
Live Stream — Foxtel Go, KAYO, NRL Digital Pass, Watch NRL Streaming (int.)
No team likes to hear about their home-ground record if it’s not at its best but for the Wests Tigers, it’s an area worth targeting if they’re serious about getting back into the finals fold.
Michael Maguire’s men made the perfect start to 2019 with their 14-point win over the Sea Eagles at Leichhardt Oval.
Their next two clashes at their second of four home grounds this season, Campbelltown Stadium, are just as important.
In the past five years, the joint-venture club’s records at both venues have dwindled. Of 60 home games over five seasons, the side’s overall winning record sits at 43.3%.
In Campbelltown alone, that figure slumps to just 36.8% with seven wins from 19 attempts.
While a lot of current players weren’t involved in most of the results, fixing a below-par home record will help the side’s long-term success overall. I’ve only been here a year and it’s hard because the Tigers have always played at a few stadiums so you can’t put all the eggs into one basket," Wests Tigers winger Mahe Fonua told NRL.com.
“And now this year we’ll play at Bankwest Stadium.”
Fonua, who held a healthy 66.6% record as a Storm player at Melbourne’s AAMI Park, believed it wasn’t as easy to be as dominant on home turf anymore as the game advances. It’s a tough one but every game we hope to have that aura where other clubs know we’re in for a big match instead of them coming to our home game and not fearing us," he said.
"Hopefully we can be feared every game. Hopefully Campbelltown can become a fortress early on this year - that’ll help.
“If the opposition can walk off the field feeling sore because of what our boys have physically done to them, then we’ve done on of our jobs.”
Wests Tigers playmaker Benji Marshall holds the venue in the same vein as the club’s “eighth wonder of the world” in Leichhardt.
I actually love Campbelltown," Marshall said.
"I know everyone talks about Leichhardt and I do love playing there on Sundays for different reasons.
“But I made my debut at Campbelltown … a packed stadium on a Sunday afternoon, it’s hot as and they’re just as loud out there.”
When asked if the record was a concern, Marshall said: "Only in the last couple of years. My record there is hectic. I love it. I think it’s great. The thing is it’s easy to talk about records but it’s all in the past.
“We’ve got a different team now, a different coach and I feel like we’re in a different position this year to last year. Those results don’t really matter to me.”
About to make the track out to fortress Campbelltown! This is what footy should be about - 3 games of footy to enjoy! Can’t wait to see Reynolds and Eisenhuth in reserves. Looking forward to watching Gamble at centre. Of course looking forward to first grade clash. SO SO SO much better than turning up at 3.30 for a 4pm game. See you out there folks!
I agree, the Warriors have a beautifully balanced roster. If they can keep their heads in it all year, they’ll go close to winning their first comp.
It might sound like a strange thing to say, but I think Johnson has held them back in recent seasons. They will be a better team without him, imo.
If they click in today’s match, we could be in for a rough night.
Agree @Doc and @Spud_Murphy. They look like a more complete team and are stronger all-round (than in previous years).
Plus as exciting as Shaun Johnson was for their team, they play much more direct with him gone.
I think their back line is close to the best in the NRL and both Maumalo and Fusitua have some great attributes - big, fast & strong and ooze natural ability.