The #1 take-away for me from the Bulldogs game is not the injuries or goal kicking, but the lack of strike power and lack of options for the halves when in attack.
Forwards platform against Bulldogs was good, so it represented a very reasonable opportunity for the attack to flow. We had a lot of football on the Dogs’ line, we completed sets well enough and the short and high tactical kicking was generally good, so we can’t complain about the lack of sets or kicks going dead.
What has struck me about the Tigers so much in the last 2-3 seasons are the lack of options and general lack of urgency we show in attack. We have a very predictable attack plan and we rarely score what I would consider “beautiful” tries, that showcase fluidity, pass selection and nice hole running. The Penrith match was probably the exception, where for about 30 minutes we attacked with terrific force and defensive line penetration.
Then I watched the Raiders go around yesterday and it was totally different.
Generally speaking, Tigers lack strike players, which we can’t impact in the final run. We just don’t have tackle-busting powerhouse speed-machines. But the Raiders side from yesterday isn’t exactly chock full of these players either. Cotric is very capable and Bateman has been a revelation; CNK runs hard all game. The others are good without being great - the young Simonsen, wiley Rapana, rocks/diamonds Wighton, reliable Croker, up/down Sezer.
What I really picked up on, and the point I wanted to make here, is if you ignore the roster for a moment and just look at HOW they play, there is so much that I like about the Raiders attack that I just don’t see in the Tigers.
Here are three early Tigers efforts, vs 1 Raiders play, same direction and roughly same field position.
My notes for Tigers:
- Plays #1 and #2 at least 1 of the halves runs sideways.
- All 3 plays generally lacking inside options
- Fullback is out back and not really a threat to take the pass
- Nobody properly engages the line
- ET’s service in all 3 plays is ok
- Hardly anyone sprinting
- Biggest take-away - look at the Bulldogs line in each case and how comfortable they are - straight, on toes, not committed and not being dragged out of play by any options. They don’t consider the fullback a threat out back, they easily pick up the intended runner and they aren’t overly fussed about containing the halves.
The Raiders slide:
- Aggressive runs left and right of the ball
- fullback pushing right up into the play
- backrow option inside and out
- they don’t come from the back fence but they do wind up quickly
- every player with hands out ready for a pass
- the Roosters aren’t happy to simply contain, they push up and commit numbers to the half
Obviously these aren’t the only plays each team will run and I did not specifically l look for “bad” plays vs “good” plays. The Raiders one I made a mental note to look at again later, and they didn’t even score off it.
Tigers attack is just so pedestrian by comparison. We don’t have world-beaters, but surely if we straightened up more, got to top speed faster and pushed forward harder in attack then we’d have more threat. I am regularly reminded of the 2010-2011 Tigers sides, specifically how well we pushed forward in attack and how there were always options. Benji Marshall was part of both sides, so it can’t just be the style of the halves.
Raiders have a better side than us, but I frankly don’t think it’s a great side. But they have so much purpose in what they do, all the players pushing forward. CNK is not having a breakout year because he’s a massive unit and speed machine, he’s having a breakout year because he pushes forward in every play and the opposition have learned to worry about where he is going to pop up, which gradually breaks down their defensive structures against the other attackers. Whitehead pushes up, chases kicks, runs at holes. Bateman is so busy with offloads and darting runs.
It’s just a busy, powerful team and I wish we were more like them. And I’m not specifically talking about big-name players, I am talking about all players increasing their intensity, pushing up on every play, running straight and hard, not standing still half the time.
I’d be interested in seeing the stats on line breaks this year compared to other years or other teams. We seem to make so few in many of our games. We just aren’t asking enough questions of the defence.
Linebreaks in 2019 we are 13th. We have 63, Storm have 99 and are 1st.
2018 we were 14th. 2017 13th, 2016 8th, 2015 10th, 2014 14th, 2013 12th.
I think you’ll find we are last in all teams in that category.
Our improvements this year have been in overall defence and in forward meters.
But what you highlighted is it isn’t quality or powerful metres we are gaining.
I feel we work/run the hardest when we are digging our way out of our own end. Look at the cowboys game for an example of plenty of ‘tough meters, to get field position’
We aren’t losing the game on getting field position we are losing by not properly capitalising.
It isn’t individuals although one or two stood out.
Brooks just about leads the league in line engagements. Must be a bit of a fluff stat because in those examples above I don’t see the oppositions line engaged.
In exhibit A if the plan was to play back inside to, (I’m not sure who) then if he ran one more meter in a 45’ angle as oppose to almost 90, our runner would have had more space.
I agree with you in the Raiders exhibit and in our 2 and 3, if our whole team ran forwards, at the same time with our eyes / hands at the ready than masters or nofo would have got more space.
Gus ‘gould’ was screaming all game for Marsters to get the ball. But as you could see the way we provide marsters with the ball it’s not going to be effective anyway.
Our team needs to bring the same intensity into their attack in the red zone as they do when they are getting out of their own end and that would be a start.
To the best of knowledge a cut out pass is only as good as the outside recipients. Also Brooks likes to engage the line and a cut out pass doesn’t work to well in those situations unless you go over the top as Brooks did. Ask benji what happens when you throw a cut out pass at the line.
Guys like Moses throw cut out passes because the play deep and don’t engage the line.
Just my 2 cents.
The games I have watched Moses definitely engages the line, usually around the time he makes a break.
He also throws an early cut out.
It seams all the tigers playmakers have adopted the whole drift across look for a gap and fallback to a runner back under as plan b.
It seems to be ingrained in Brooks that he runs towards the line regardless of what the defence is doing.
Moses on the other hand engages the line when he spots a retreating defence. He hits it hard and often breaks through.
If the defence hasn’t moved he gets the ball quickly out to his centre or back into the middle of the field.
As I’m writing this I’m thinking parramatta would be a good move for Ramien based on this.
It was hard to type and view the videos so I’ve realised I’m a bit muddled in my assessment.
Exhibit a is Marshall and nofo.
In that one Marsters gives him nothing to make that anything other than nofo receiving the ball. To be fair though nofo does not run into the hole benji creates.
Exhibit b is the one I called a in the other post. Brooks needed to dig into the line deeper.
Exhibit C is an interesting one. There was a lot of space back behind the ruck and only presented itself because of the long ball out to Brooks.
If ET went the other way from the ruck it wouldn’t have been available so the option to capitalise was to get a short ball back on the inside to a hard runner back against the grain. Brooks had no one inside for that option and that is disappointing.
@TCL probably not, but the point is he recognises the weakness better.
Both players are good at short sides. Brooks left, Moses right. It’s just Brooks really only throws a cutout as a last ditch pass not one early out to our backline.
Our playbook has a lot to answer for for this though.