Late surge helps West Tigers beat Canberra 18-8 at Leichhardt Oval
By Ian McCullough
June 20, 2010
Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah credited the raucous Leichhardt Oval crowd for helping his side edge out Canberra 18-8 in a nail-biting encounter on Sunday.
The Tigers trailed 8-6 with five minutes remaining before Beau Ryan and Daniel Fitzhenry sent the 19,428 crowd wild with two late tries to deny a determined Canberra outfit.
Tim Sheens’ side dominated large spells of the game, but were let down by some wayward passing which saw them bomb at least four potential tries, with Lote Tuqiri a major culprit.
“We might get Lote out there practising his passes, he has been in rugby too long and he has forgotten how!” quipped Farah after the game.
Farah was outstanding out of dummy half and said the crowd played a huge role in the win, suggesting his side would have lost had the game been played elsewhere.
“At one stage there in the second half we were doing it tough and they really got behind us,” he said.
"We love playing here, the crowd here are unbelievable, it doesn’t get better than winning a game on a Sunday arvo at Leichhardt Oval, it is what footy is all about.
“There was a stage we put a kick in and made a kick chase and with the crowd behind us, you could see the line speed lift and I think if we had played somewhere else we would not have won that game.”
Sheens admitted his side’s fourth successive win was a bit too close for comfort but saluted his players’ commitment after being frustrated by the Raiders for most of the game.
“It is a game we wouldn’t have won last year,” he said.
“You know when I am stressed when I go from coaches box to sideline, but it was a game last year we might have lost, but I have to give credit to the boys it is not easy to come back off the bye,” said Sheens.
Raiders coach David Furner cut a disconsolate figure and said the loss was the toughest of the season.
"I don’t think they deserved that last try, the team put in a lot of effort and in those sort of tight games you have to take your chances and we didn’t do that when we had them,‘’ Furner said.
“I think we had their measure quite well but all we can do is turn it around and look to next week.”
The Raiders were also hit with the loss of Scott Logan, who lasted just two minutes after coming off the interchange bench when he broke his wrist.
“That was a big blow for us, we only had 16 men for most of the game,” Furner said.
Tigers forward Chris Heighington will face a nervous wait after he was put on report for a spear tackle on Bronson Harrison midway through the second half.
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Sheens interview - interesting to hear it will be another soft week
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WESTS TIGERS BEAT CANBERRA 18-8 IN NRL
By Wayne Cousins
20/06/2010 4:53:11 PM
Wests Tigers recorded a hard fought 18-8 victory over a gallant Canberra Raiders at Leichhardt Oval today in round 15 of the Telstra Premiership.
In a match in which Wests Tigers dropped more ball than a Lotto game in trying to score tries, the home side had to fight to the very end to overcome the Raiders to record their first win at Leichhardt Oval this season in front of a crowd of 19,428.
Wests Tigers got on the front foot from the kick-off when Canberra winger Joel Monaghan kicked the ball over the dead ball line to give the home side a penalty on half-way.
From the ensuring first set, Wests Tigers then got a penalty and six more tackles.
They made the most of it too when hooker Robbie Farah threw a long ball to centre Blake Ayshford who ran towards the line before turning the ball back inside for winger Beau Ryan to score the first try of the game for a 4-0 lead in front of a massive crowd on a perfect Sunday afternoon at Leichhardt Oval.
Five-eighth Benji Marshall converted the try for a 6-0 lead after four minutes.
Each try the Wests Tigers score today is worth $2000 to the Cancer Council as part of the club’s annual Call To Arms promotion.
Play was stopped in the 10th minute when Ryan was treated for a right shoulder injury but he got up and played on.
Wests Tigers have played some very exciting, attacking rugby league in the opening 20 minutes with the likes of Marshall, Farah and winger Lote Tuqiri enjoying plenty of room off the hard work by the forwards.
Video Referee Sean Hampstead was called on to rule whether there was an obstruction in Monaghan’s try in the 22nd minute after five-eighth Terry Campese combined with centre Jarrod Croker to send Monaghan over. The try was awarded.
Croker converted the try for a 6-6 scoreline after 23 minutes.
Tuqiri got the Wests Tigers supporters cheering when he latched onto a great one handed offload by centre Chris Lawrence to race down the sideline in front of the hill.
Unfortunately, Tuqiri dropped the ball as Canberra full-back David Milne approached him. The Raiders picked up the loose ball through Bronson Harrison who turned defence into attack before a chip kick by Campese saw the ball go dead on the last tackle.
Marshall turned something into nothing on the last tackle in the 29th minute when he spotted a gap to put through a short grubber kick. In regathering the ball, Marshall threw a beautiful pass to his left to find Lawrence, whose pass to Tuqiri was intercepted by Canberra half-back Josh McCrone 25 metres out from the Raiders tryline.
Wests Tigers could have scored two more tries at least had the final pass found its mark and had Tuqiri not lose the ball in confronting Milne.
Farah then looked destined to score when he split the defence to race almost 50 metres only to be tackled by Milne just short of the line with 1min:46secs left in the first half.
A quick play the ball then saw Marshall drop the ball at first receiver before Canberra went on the attack. Thirty seconds later, half-back Robert Lui desperately held up centre Joel Thompson over the line.
The Raiders kept the pressure on before Wests Tigers dug deep to keep them at bay for a 6-6 scoreline at half-time.
Wests Tigers have been by far the more dominant side and should have been in well in front at the break.
Hampstead was called on again in the 42nd minute to rule whether Monaghan had scored after leaping high to defuse a Campese crossfield bomb. Hampstead ruled Refs Call with referee Jared Maxwell ruling he was held up in a tackle by Ayshford.
Wests Tigers bombed another tryscoring opportunity in the 45th minute when Lawrence spilt the ball from a pass by lock Chris Heighington with Tuqiri in support.
The trybombing continued in 53rd minute when Ryan couldn’t take a Marshall cut out pass five metres from the tryline with the ball heading over the sideline.
The Raiders also bombed a try a minute later when Thompson lost the ball just short of the line on the last tackle.
Tuqiri was penalised for a shepherd, allowing Canberra to take a penalty attempt at goal from 33 metres out. Croker converted the try to give the Raiders an 8-6 lead with 16 minutes remaining.
Full-back Wade McKinnon was replaced by utility Daniel Fitzhenry with 15 minutes remaining.
Wests Tigers bombed another try when Heighington fumbled and then dropped the ball 20 metres out in front of the posts with the line in front of him after a big run in open space by Tuqiri.
Heighington was then placed on report in the next set for a lifting tackle on Harrison.
Wests Tigers FINALLY SCORED again in the 75th minute when Ryan finished off a backline play by putting through a short grubber kick behind Croker five metres out to dive on the ball to send the Tigers faithful into a huge frenzy.
The try by Ryan also brought up the 1000th try in Wests Tigers history since the club’s inaugural season in 2000.
Marshall converted the try to give Wests Tigers a 12-8 lead with four minutes remaining.
Wests Tigers then secured victory when from a scrum win, Fitzhenry raced 60 metres to score under the posts. Marshall converted the try to give Wests Tigers an 18-8 lead with one minute remaining.
The home side then had a try disallowed for a forward pass inside the final minute.
We cop roar deal for Origin - Tim Sheens
Nick Walshaw and Christian Nicolussi From: The Daily Telegraph June 14, 2010 12:00AM
THEY were the heartbeat of NSW Origin teams throughout the 1980s - and now the Tigers want back in.
Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens has urged Blues selectors to pick four of his NRL superstars - hooker Robbie Farah, back-rower Chris Heighington, centre Chris Lawrence and prop Keith Galloway - as part of a sweeping overhaul promised by the NSWRL.
Buoyed by his team’s 18-8 comeback victory against Canberra at a packed Leichhardt Oval, Sheens took aim at the NSW selectors for continually overlooking his players.
He singled out Heighington, who is now seriously considering playing for Great Britain, saying: “If they’re not careful they’ll lose him to the Poms.” Sheens added that the back-rower, whose father was born in Durham, has an English passport.
“If he doesn’t play for us, he’ll play for them.”
Farah added: “Well, he’s not getting an opportunity here. He was even overlooked for Country this year. But if anyone deserves to play Origin it’s Chrissy Heighington. He’s been our best player for two years.”
Leichhardt Oval remains the spiritual home of some of the Blues’ great heroes, including Wayne Pearce, Steve Roach, Paul Sironen, Benny Elias and Garry Jack.
Sheens, who also coaches Australia, said that Farah, Heighington and Lawrence especially should have their names inked alongside them.
“We’ve been going OK this year and yet we’ve got nobody in [Origin],” he said. “And I’m disappointed with that. Our form this year and position on the ladder deserves a little more recognition from rep selectors.”
Farah played two Origin games last year but lost his spot to Bulldogs rake Michael Ennis.
Sheens said his Balmain boy was the “answer” to creating a 7-6-9-1 spine to compete against a Queensland side that is being called the greatest ever.
Heighington - who is on report for a lifting tackle on Bronson Harrison - is tired of being snubbing at rep level and the England option is looming large in his thinking.
“I’d love to do it [Game III],” Heighington said. “I’m ready to take the next step and I’ve been ready the last couple of years.”
Lote-motive derails as Beau shines
Nick Walshaw From: The Daily Telegraph June 14, 2010 12:00AM
SO BEAU really does know Leichhardt Oval.
He knows it so well he can take the Steeden only inches from the chalk of the right touchline, then pivot, spinning only metres from that wooden seat in the terraces where only a couple of days before he was filming his "Beau Knows … " segment for The Footy Show.
But there are no gags now. No time.
Instead, with five minutes left and his team down by two, Beau Ryan does what few wingers are ever encouraged to do. He kicks. And Beau Knows Kicks.
He drops that seed on to his foot and somehow, some way places it between the legs of Canberra centre Jarrod Croker. And then he chases.
See, Beau Knows Commitment too.
And somehow, some way, this 84kg funnyman not only manages to grubber the ball over the tryline, he pushes his way through and grounds it too. Then he celebrates by jumping up, arms outstretched and screaming towards some 19,428 jammed on to the Leichhardt Oval hill.
Good times … yep, Beau Knows 'em. And just like that the Wests Tigers were home with their 1000th try.
It was a milestone that appeared destined to go unfulfilled as the home side bombed five, maybe six, four-pointers
As part of a Call to Arms charity round, the Tigers had promised to give $2000 to the Cancer Council every time they scored. For a long time it appeared as if the players were fearful of the cash coming from their own wallets.
Like when Benji Marshall dropped the ball only five metres from the tryline. Or when he spiralled another long ball past an outstretched Ryan and into touch. And as for poor old Lote Tuquiri, well, he had such a horror afternoon that when asked to explain the handling clanger that almost cost his boys the match, he said: “Which one?”
And so we politely recalled how, in the later stages of the first half, he was sprinting down the sideline, seemingly destined to score for the ninth time this year, when he inexplicably dropped the ball cold.
“I should’ve just pinned my ears back,” he said. “I saw one of the Raiders coming across in cover and started thinking about getting organised to fend. From there … yeah, it got a little muddled.”
Muddled? So tough did this usually rock-solid dual international do it in his first match at Leichhardt - including a wayward pass with backrower Chris Heighington destined to score - he had Tigers skipper Robbie Farah laughing afterwards that “we’ve gotta get Lote out to practise his passing and ball handling … he’s been in rugby too long”.
“It was just one of those days,” Tuqiri said. “The crowd was even giving it to me about my ponytail.”
Thankfully, the bloke on the other side was doing better. Beau Knows Bombs. Beau Knows Scoots. And Beau Knows Dragging His Arse Off The Deck After Being Bombed Worse Than Lindsay Lohan.
Yep, Beau Knows Leichhardt.
Farah’s the man to give NSW some backbone, says Sheens
June 21, 2010
IT USED to be that Tim Sheens pulled his hair out over the Wests Tigers’ inconsistencies. Now that he has created a consistent outfit, he is pulling it out over something else: the representative snubbing of his players.
‘‘We’ve been going OK this year, yet we’ve got no one in,’’ the Tigers coach said of the State of Origin series. ‘‘I’m a bit disappointed with that. I think our form this year and our position on the ladder deserves a bit more recognition from the point of view of the rep selectors.’’
Victory over the Raiders yesterday pushed the Tigers to third. Top of Sheens’s list is hooker and captain Robbie Farah, who made 43 tackles against Canberra and was the heartbeat of his side to Benji Marshall’s dance beat. Sheens believes talk of NSW overhauling their entire outfit is pointless unless the selectors make the right decisions in the positions that count.
‘‘For NSW to do anything … they can talk all they like about changing the side and doing all this, but they’ve got to create a spine,’’ Sheens said. ''It starts at nine, and this guy [Farah] is the answer for that. I think he deserves it. He’s in all the leading stats this year. He’s had to bide his time, but I think he’s answered it really well.
‘‘Once you pick a nine, seven, six and one, that’s where you build your team. You don’t build your team around 10 changes. You will not beat Queensland without a nine, seven, six and one that can play together and make the right decisions, kick the ball. You need all of that sort of ammunition to [have] any chance of winning a game.’’
Farah has played two Origins - but was dropped after game two last year, and has been unable to get a look-in since. ‘‘I’m disappointed not to be there, and it’s frustrating to watch on TV, but I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing here,’’ Farah said. ‘‘If they pick me, I’d love another opportunity.’’
So, no doubt, would centre Chris Lawrence, lock Chris Heighington, and to a lesser extent prop Keith Galloway, who were all given strong endorsements by their coach after they toughed out a win.
Both teams bombed tries, which made for exciting viewing for the almost 20,000 crammed into the ground. It probably led to some disappointment from the Cancer Council, however, who would have expected to raise more than $6000 when, on a dry day and a perfect pitch at Leichhardt Oval, they were promised $2000 for every Tigers try for the Call to Arms cause. ‘‘Everyone expected us to beat them by 30 just because we were back at Leichhardt,’’ Marshall said.
The Tigers scored early but only finished off the game with two tries in the final five minutes, as the Raiders rumbled over the hosts thanks to their massive forward pack.
‘‘When I go from the box to the sideline you know I’m under stress,’’ Sheens said. ‘‘We certainly blew a few. I still like to think we were the better side. It was probably a game, last year and the year before, we would have lost to be quite honest. I have to pay credit to the boys. That’s the first of 12 steps. We talked about it the other day - 12 games. Now there’s 11.’’
The Tigers play St George Illawarra next in more hostile territory, at Kogarah this Friday, although they may pay the price for the physicality of yesterday’s game. Captain Farah (shin), Heighington (hip), halfback Robert Lui (knee), winger Beau Ryan (neck) and fullback Wade McKinnon (hip) will be in some doubt for the encounter.
Heighington will also be sweating on the match review committee’s view of his 66th minute lifting tackle on Bronson Harrison. ‘‘I’ve got a clean record,’’ Heighington said. ‘‘We’ll have to wait and see.’’
The Raiders lost prop Scott Logan to a suspected broken arm - their coach David Furner lamenting the loss of competition points. ‘‘I think we had their measure quite well,’’ Furner said.
He’s handy on TV, but Beau shows he also knows how to find try line GREG PRICHARD
June 21, 2010
WESTS TIGERS winger Beau Ryan, in his popular ‘‘Beau Knows’’ spot on The Footy Show last week, said he knew Leichhardt Oval. It may be a comedy segment, but yesterday he was deadly serious in proving the point when he threaded a grubber kick through traffic and chased the ball through to score.
It was the try that put the Tigers back in front with five minutes to go, and which effectively won them the game. The try by Daniel Fitzhenry in the 78th minute was the icing on the cake.
‘‘That try, the ball went through [Canberra centre] Jarrod Croker’s legs,’’ said Canberra coach David Furner, who couldn’t believe the bad luck of the Raiders when it came to the uninterrupted passage of the Steeden. ‘‘It would be nice if it had ricocheted, but that sort of thing can happen in games.’’
Ryan had an eventful afternoon. He scored a double, registering the other try in just the third minute. He looked like he was going to be forced off injured after just 10 minutes, before coming good with treatment and expertly defused a couple of dangerous bombs from Canberra five-eighth Terry Campese that were meant to take advantage of Raiders winger Joel Monaghan’s excellent catching ability.
‘‘It was my neck,’’ Ryan said, when asked about the problem that saw him remain on the deck for a couple of minutes after being tackled. ''I just got hit in the tackle and it was just my neck and my shoulder. I had no strength there, temporarily. I got a bit of pins and needles, and some numbness. I haven’t had any problems with my neck before.
‘‘It’s always a bit of a worry when something like that happens to you. I’ve got to go and see a doctor on Tuesday, to get it checked out, but I’m sure that if it was a bad injury they would have taken me off today. The physio said it might have just been a ‘burner’, so hopefully that’s all it is.’’
Ryan had a chance to score a try to put the Tigers back in front a bit earlier than the opportunity he did take, but he was too far behind Benji Marshall’s pass and the ball ended up going into touch.
‘‘When Benji has the ball I try to stick to the sideline, and I should have been in a better position to score on that occasion,’’ he said. ‘‘I should have been a bit flatter, which is how we play.’’
On the try that put the Tigers back in front, Ryan said: ‘‘I was just trying to put the ball in-goal, get a repeat set and keep it down their end. But I got a good bounce and after it went between his legs I had the chance to go after it and score. It’s my first double, so I’m rapt.’’
Ryan said he knew the Raiders would be kicking to his wing repeatedly, to try to put Monaghan into position to score.
‘‘He [Monaghan] is the best in the game apart from Israel Folau at bringing down bombs for tries,’’ he said. ‘‘Royce [Simmons] is our kicking and catching coach, and we did a lot of work on defusing bombs during the week.’’
Ryan is never short of an opinion. Asked if he wished to close with some advice for anyone, he replied: ‘‘Robbie Farah for Origin.’’
Heighington may play for England GLENN JACKSON
June 21, 2010
CHRIS HEIGHINGTON’s frustration at being consistently overlooked for State of Origin selection could prompt him to switch his allegiances to England. Aware that Heighington has an English passport through his father Tom, England coach Steve McNamara has contacted his Tigers teammate, the England back-rower Gareth Ellis, as well as assistant coach Royce Simmons, in a bid to convince the 28-year-old to represent the English.
‘‘I’d love [to play Origin],’’ Heighington said yesterday. ''I’m ready. I’m ready to take the next step and I have been for the last couple of years. Hopefully that chance does come.
''I’ve got the English passport. My dad’s from England, I’m real close to that side of the family. There’s a Heighington village over in Durham. That is definitely an option for me. This is my eighth season [in the NRL], and I’ve only represented Country, once.
‘‘I want to play with the best players in the world and against the best players in the world. England’s a great country. If I have to do that, I have to do that.’’
Heighington admitted to frustrations that his representative career had so far amounted to a sole Country appearance in 2008 - as well as two Prime Minister’s XIII jerseys. ‘‘I think I’ve been reasonably consistent this year,’’ Heighington said. ''It was disappointing when I didn’t make the Country team [this year]. Obviously there are a lot of second-rowers for Country who were going pretty well.
‘‘It got a bit disappointing, but I just thought I’d been real consistent at club level. I get frustrated. You set goals and then you don’t achieve them, but you know you did everything you can to achieve them. That goal is to play State of Origin in game three.’’
Heighington made it clear his primary objective was to play Origin, but admitted he could be playing for England as early as this year’s Four Nations - if selected. ‘‘Anything’s possible I suppose,’’ he said. ‘‘I think I’ll sit down with my close friends and family and weigh up that decision [if he misses out on Origin III selection]. I’ve got to think about that and see what happens. I want to play Origin. That’s the pinnacle of rugby league. I want to be out there and doing whatever I can for the Blues.’’
The elevation of Heighington to top-tier representative player was given the backing by two Tigers players who have played at the highest level, captain Robbie Farah and five-eighth Benji Marshall. ‘‘If anyone deserves to play for NSW, I think it’s Chris Heighington,’’ Farah said. ‘‘He’s been our best player for two years.’’
Said Marshall: ‘‘He’s the heart and soul of this team on and off the field.’’
But Heighington wanted it known this was not all about him, too. In typical style for someone who plays for others, never getting many accolades for mountains of work, he believes others should be considered.
‘‘You can see that all of the teams up in the top four are getting selected,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re there now - I think we’re coming third. The selectors always shy away from the Tigers. I’m not sure why. Hopefully they can have a good look at the Tigers players and pick a few.’’
Raiders will kick themselves for moment of indecision PHIL GOULD
June 21, 2010
To kick for goal, or not to kick for goal. That is the question. Canberra were faced with this dilemma in the 64th minute of their bruising clash with Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval yesterday afternoon. The scores were locked at 6-6. The match was down to the stage where you start to believe the team that scores the next try will win.
The Raiders received a penalty 30 metres out from the Tigers line and only 12 metres in from touch. What do you do? Kick the goal to take a two-point lead? Or kick for touch and play on, thinking this is a great opportunity to get that telling try?
There are compelling arguments for both sides of the equation. The best decision is the quick one. The first thought into your head at the sound of the whistle is the way you need to react.
Raiders captain Terry Campese almost seized the moment. He raced in to grab the ball and looked intent on a quick kick for the sideline. He smelled the opposition tiring and sensed this was his chance to ram home the advantage.
But he hesitated. He second-guessed his first impulse. Now the arguments for and against such action start to confuse the brain. He looked to the coach’s bench on the sideline for guidance. The opportunity was now lost.
It took 15 seconds for the instruction to take the penalty kick at goal. After taking so long to decide this was now the only call to make. It was the conservative option. The aggressive play was to go for the try.
Young centre Jarrod Croker slotted the penalty kick to give the visitors a narrow 8-6 lead. However, from this moment, the whole complexion of the game changed.
Up until that point the contest had been a battle of attacking brilliance and defensive wills. Despite the fact only two tries had been scored, there was no shortage of try-scoring opportunities.
Some were saved with desperate and heroic defensive efforts; others were squandered by the poor pass or dropped ball under pressure. Had all the chances been converted the scoreboard could just as easily have read 26-26, rather than the lowly one try apiece.
The feature of the game, though, was that both sides were determined to be the next team to post the elusive try. Once the Raiders secured their two-point lead, they stopped chasing the try. They reined in their ball movement and started to play the control game. Now only one team was playing attacking football.
Trying to protect such a narrow margin for the final 16 minutes of any game these days is fraught with danger. Up against the Tigers in front of their home crowd at Leichhardt on a Sunday afternoon - it’s almost mission impossible.
The Raiders defended grimly, but there was an obvious nervousness in their demeanour. It took the Tigers a while to get the go-ahead scores; but there was inevitability about them coming before the final siren.
They weren’t just any tries, either. The first was a brilliant team try on the fifth tackle orchestrated by chief playmakers Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall, ending in a grubber kick and chase by winger Beau Ryan. The clincher came only a minute later from a scrum win and neatly executed play to send interchange fullback Daniel Fitzhenry racing 60 metres down the centre of the field to score under the posts. Game over.
The Raiders’ decision to kick for goal didn’t cost them the game. But it did have a significant influence on how the final 16 minutes of the match was to be played.
It is a sign of leadership and self-confidence when a player goes with his first instinct with such a big decision in a pressure situation. A coach tries to instil in his leaders the attitude that it’s always best to beg forgiveness; rather than seek approval.
We shall never know where Campese’s first thought may have taken the game; and indeed the Raiders’ season. It now vanishes into the abyss with all the other could’ve- should’ve-would’ve moments throughout the history of sport.
On this occasion, though, it was a simple case of he who hesitates is lost. Maybe next time it will go the other way.
Hail to the hill: Some fans throw punches GREG PRICHARD
June 21, 2010
Wests Tigers used an 18th man in their win against Canberra yesterday, but they won’t be losing the two competition points. It was the legal use of their best friend - the Leichhardt Oval faithful, all 19,428 of them - that was instrumental in getting the Tigers home after they had trailed inside the last 10 minutes.
‘‘Massive’’ was how Tigers captain Robbie Farah described the crowd’s influence. ‘‘You could feel them lifting you,’’ added playmaker Benji Marshall. Beau Ryan reckoned ‘‘the crowd got us home today’’, and his fellow winger, Lote Tuqiri, said that when ‘‘I saw all the people on the streets as I was coming to the ground I knew something big was brewing’’.
Tuqiri was spot on. Once the fine day dawned, there was no doubt Leichhardt - the spiritual home of the Balmain half of the joint venture club - was going to be flooded to near capacity. The famous old suburban ground only hosts a few Tigers games a year these days, so the opportunity to bathe in the atmosphere becomes even more special.
The Herald decided it was time to escape the relative comfort of the media box and wade into the thick of the fans on the hill to get a real taste of the action - and it was well worth the effort. I watched the game with my brother, Peter, a Tigers tragic from way back, right in front of the scoreboard, and rolled with the punches - almost literally, on one occasion after a brawl involving several men broke out when the game was five minutes old. A game obviously doesn’t have to be very old before it becomes a matter of life or death to the fans. Security marched a couple of them out of the ground, while another - a Wests Tigers fan - remained to cheer on his team despite sporting a nasty cut to his cheek. That’s dedication for you.
It was during the last 20 minutes that the crowd came into its own. You could sense that, even while the score remained at 6-6 for a long time, the fans thought the Tigers were going to lift and get home, and weren’t going to need to be pushed too hard to do so. But after the Raiders had snuck in front, 8-6, the crowd went into overdrive, roaring encouragement for the Tigers and trying to put pressure on the referees. It was pulsating.
When the Tigers hit the front with five minutes to go, the relief among the fans was enormous. But the game wasn’t over yet. When the Tigers scored another try, in the 78th minute, it was celebration time.
‘‘They’re very important,’’ Marshall said of the fans. ‘‘The influence they can sometimes have on the ref is great - for your side. It’s always great to play at Leichhardt. It wasn’t one of my best games today, but I was trying hard, and it’s the buzz from the crowd that keeps you going.’’
Farah said that had the game been played somewhere else, the Tigers probably wouldn’t have come back to win. ‘‘I remember, at one stage of the second half, we made a good kick-chase and the crowd got right behind us,’’ he said. ‘‘Suddenly, we got a second wind. Our line speed lifted, and we put them under pressure.’’
Tuqiri said that when Ryan scored the try that put the Tigers back in front, he couldn’t get to the tryscorer, so he ran alongside the fence giving the fans high fives instead. But the final word goes to Tigers fullback Wade McKinnon, who was making his debut for the club after a mid-season switch from the Warriors.
‘‘I’d played against the Tigers here a few times,’’ he said. ‘‘And I can tell you it’s definitely much better to be playing for them here.’’
‘Spineless’ Blues need to change: Sheens IAN MCCULLOUGH
June 20, 2010 - 7:54PM
Wests Tigers and Australia coach Tim Sheens says NSW will never end Queensland’s State of Origin dominance until they develop a settled spine to their side.
The Blues have chopped and changed hookers, halfbacks, five-eighths and fullbacks with alarming regularity in recent years and Sheens said selectors must decide on a playmaking combination and stick with it, starting with next month’s dead rubber at ANZ Stadium.
Sheens also pushed the cause of his skipper Robbie Farah, who has not played for NSW since game two in Sydney last year, as well as workaholic backrower Chris Heighington, who will play for England if he is continued to be overlooked by Origin selectors.
“There is no doubt for NSW to do anything they have to create a spine,” Sheens said.
"It starts at nine. Robbie is the answer to that. You get a seven a six and a one and build around that.
“That is what Queensland have done and you can talk about changing the side but you need the spine, the guys that come up with nine out of 10 decisions are those blokes.”
Sheens, a former City Origin coach, said he was surprised the playmaking combinations used against Country in recent seasons had not been considered.
"Robbie has played with Mitchell Pearce at City, Jarryd Hayne has played City … but there have been a few players overlooked for the Country boys.
“You don’t pick a team by making 10 changes. It’s OK to be able to break a tackle but you need guys who can give you the ball.”
Despite getting put on report for a dangerous tackle on Canberra’s Bronson Harrison in the Tigers’ 18-8 win on Sunday, Heighington was outstanding.
Both Sheens and Farah said NSW’s loss could be England’s gain if he is overlooked again.
“Chrissy will tackle anything for 80 minutes and if they are not careful they will lose him to the Poms, he has a British passport and if he doesn’t play for us he will play for them,” Sheens said.
“He was overlooked for Country as well and if anyone deserves to play for NSW it’s Chris Heighington and I would love to be there alongside him.”
Heighington said he has been frustrated at constantly being ignored and said he was doing all he could to get noticed by Blues selectors, but declaring for England is an option.
“My dad is from Durham and I am very close to that part of the family over there,” he said.
“I have spoken to my close mates Gareth Ellis and Mark Flanagan about it and I would definitely need to sit down and decide if that is what I want to do if I am not going to get picked for NSW.”
“State of Origin is the highest level you can play and that is my ambition and my aim and I would love to be selected in game three.”