SMH - Sunday Morning
September 5, 2010
THE first Monday of the NRL post-season is usually greeted with a beer by Robbie Farah.
But this year the Wests Tigers captain is looking forward to some celebratory bubbly in October despite a hiccup in their run to the finals.
Looking to seal a top-two finish, the Wests Tigers were held out 21-18 by the Gold Coast Titans at Skilled Park on Friday night in their regular-season finale.
However, nothing was going to dampen Farah’s enthusiasm as the Tigers prepared for their first finals campaign since their 2005 premiership year.
‘‘Come Monday I will be pretty excited to go to training - instead of going to Mad Monday,’’ Farah smiled.
''It’s been a while since we played semis. I am definitely excited about it - I can’t wait.
‘‘And we are still in a good position, we still have a home semi. I am still confident.’’
Farah was staying positive despite a mistake-riddled opening 40 minutes gifting the Titans a 13-0 half-time lead.
‘‘In the first half we couldn’t have played much worse,’’ Farah said.
‘‘We said after the game that we have to learn from that and make sure it doesn’t happen again. I can assure you next week we will start a lot better.’’
Twice they fought back to make it a one-point ball game before Titans skipper Scott Prince’s 78th minute penalty goal. Still, Wests Tigers went down swinging, with dangerman Benji Marshall making the Titans sweat until the very last play.
Marshall kept the ball alive past the final siren before his speculative pass went into touch.
But the entertainment didn’t stop there - Marshall then took exception to a tackle by Titans prop Matt White, almost sparking a post-match all-in brawl. ‘‘It was important that we had a strong second half - we have gained some momentum going into next week,’’ Farah said.
''And with the for and against, it means Gold Coast finish behind us so we can’t finish lower than third - that’s one positive out of it.
‘‘We could have easily got beat by 20 or 30 after that start.’’
Indeed it was a gutsy effort after a horrific injury toll forced coach Tim Sheens to dip into the NSW Cup ranks and pick Sean Meaney at fullback - a player who had just three minutes of NRL experience.
The young brigade’s display was typified by Mitch Brown, who came from nowhere to pull off a try-saving tackle on a flying Kevin Gordon in the first half.
‘‘Kevvie Gordon is one of, if not the, fastest player in the comp - they are the little efforts that can win you semi-finals,’’ Farah said. ‘‘That’s why I am confident.’’
Some relief is in sight for Sheens as he expects Liam Fulton (calf), Bryce Gibbs (knee) and Geoff Daniela (hamstring) back next week, and possibly Wade McKinnon (hamstring)