Wests Tigers v Roosters Preview
NRL.comWed, 8 Sep 2010 17:21
Wests Tigers v Roosters
Sydney Football Stadium
With newly crowned Dally M Medal winner Todd Carney up against the ‘king of flair’ Benji Marshall, expect this second qualifying final pitting Team Three versus Team Six, to explode into points.
It’s a particularly vital game for the Roosters, who with a loss would be exposed to the finals axe should either the Raiders or Sea Eagles manage upset wins against the Panthers and Dragons respectively.
Clearly, intensity will not be an issue.
The Tigers hit the field after a three-point loss to the Titans on the Gold Coast, their first defeat in a month of football. The frustration of that defeat was evident after the siren, when normally tame Tiger Benji Marshall lashed out with a flurry of punches after being shunted into touch. Most unlike him.
But their stocks rise with the return of a trio of key players from injury – fullback Wade McKinnon, second-rower Liam Fulton and bench forward Bryce Gibbs, as well as backline utility Geoff Daniela who joins the bench.
The Roosters struggled to overcome the lowly Cowboys in the heat in Townsville last week, and only scraped through courtesy of a try double to Shaun Kenny-Dowall. But they were a little disjointed, missing the impact of fullback Anthony Minichiello who returns from injury here. This sees Sam Perrett slot back to the wing, with Kane Linnett shifting one man in to join Kenny-Dowall at centre, shunting Joseph Leilua.
Also, the Roosters missed the structured play of late withdrawal Jake Friend, who has been named to start this week although James Aubusson has been listed as part of a seven-man bench that also includes hard man Mose Masoe.
The Roosters will be battling a bogey this year – no team has won the premiership from outside the top four. As for this week, teams with the home ground advantage (like the Tigers) have a 64 per cent success rate in Week One.
Of some concern must be that the tri-colours have lost their past four finals matches at night.
But balancing all of that, they have knocked over the Tigers twice already this year – they get their chance to become the first NRL team ever to achieve a hat-trick over the Tigers in the same year – plus they hold a 5-3 advantage over the Tigers in games played at the SFS.
Watch out Wests Tigers: The key is to shut down halfback Mitchell Pearce, five-eighth Todd Carney and centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
The Roosters’ halves pairing have a wonderful understanding and have been responsible for setting up or scoring 49 of the Roosters’ 98 tries for the season. Add Kenny-Dowall’s 20 tries (many of them solo efforts) and sole try assist and it tallies 71 per cent of their strike-power right there!
Pearce has seven tries, 14 try assists, eight line-breaks and 15 line-break assists, while Carney has 15 tries, 13 try assists, 17 line-breaks and 17 line-break assists.
Tigers centres Blake Ayshford and Mitch Brown’s task won’t be to stop Shaun Kenny-Dowall as much as just limit his impact. The blockbusting Kiwi has scored 12 tries in his past seven games, through speed, power and skill. He ranks third for line-breaks (19) and has a deadly one-handed offload (35 for the year). It would be a huge surprise if he wasn’t responsible for points in this game. And if he’s not, then chances are the Tigers win.
Watch out Roosters: Robbie Farah will put the disappointment of narrowly losing the Dally M Medal to Carney behind him and pull out a big one. He likes nothing better than targeting tired forwards around the ruck and should they get on a roll at dummy-half, watch for Farah to break loose.
He has 135 dummy-half runs for the year (fourth in the NRL) for seven ruck line-breaks (third most). He showed how devastating he can be when engineering a soft long-range try for Lote Tuqiri last week.
Farah is also superb at setting up plays close to the opposition line, as his 25 try assists (second in NRL) show. Whether it’s a dab through the line, a cross-field kick or a wonderful selective pass that puts an edge runner through a hole, Farah has the right play for the right moment.
The Roosters need to watch Farah’s combination with back-rowers Liam Fulton and Gareth Ellis, who love to run inside angles from close range – Farah and Ellis combined this way last week for a four-pointer.
Discipline could hurt the Roosters – they have conceded 145 penalties in defence, the most by any side. By comparison the Tigers are well behaved, giving away 120 (sixth fewest).
Where it will be won: The team that is allowed to play to their strengths will win. For the Tigers, that means the likes of Farah and Marshall sucking the Roosters’ defence in with dummies (they’ve exploited this ploy the most in the comp) and continuing their excellent rate of line-break assists (79 for the year, third in the comp) and try assists (85, ranked second).
The Tigers will also rely on hurting their opponents from long range – they have made the most line-breaks on kick returns (nine) and scored the most tries from 51-plus metres (21).
The Roosters are proving the exception to the rule for offloads amongst the leading NRL teams in 2010. Their 313 offloads rank them fourth in the comp – but they’re the leading exponent in the top eight, with only the lowly Sharks and Eels plus seventh-placed Raiders promoting more second-phase play. Meanwhile, the Wests Tigers’ 240 offloads are the fewest by any team in 2010.
What can we make of this? The Tigers use guile more than anything else to get in to open space. And it’s mostly due to Farah and Benji Marshall.
Marshall has nine line-breaks, 20 line-break assists (all by passes, ranking second in the comp), 12 tries and 21 try assists.
A fortnight ago against the Storm he scored three tries and broke the line once. But he was unable to make an impact against the Titans last week, with no line-breaks, try assists, or line-break assists. It’s unlikely he’ll allow an opposition to keep him quiet two games in a row.
The history: Played 17; Roosters 10, Wests Tigers 7. The honours are shared four games apiece over the past eight clashes, although the Roosters won both games played in 2010 to date.
Conclusion: This is too hard to pick, but we’re prepared to say it will have a combined points total of more than 40. (The Tigers average more points at the SFS, 21.9, than their other home venues.)
We doubt it will be close though – history shows that only six of the past 36 finals matches have been decided by less than 10 points.
It could boil down to which side is hungrier – with the Tigers likely to get a second bite at the premiership even if they lose, and the Roosters a chance of bowing out with a loss, that could be enough to see the Roosters wrestle this contest.
Regardless, it will be the most entertaining game of the weekend.
Match officials: Referees – Shayne Hayne & Matt Cecchin; Sideline Officials – Steve Carrall & Steve Chiddy; Video Ref – Steve Clark.
Televised: Channel Nine – Live 6.30pm.
Wests Tigers can sometimes remind me of a well suited applicant going for a job for which they are well credentialled. The applicant has everything needed to get the job but they must have prepared well for the interview by knowing the key points they wish to raise, knowing when those points will be mentioned during the interview to gain maximum advantage, having back up points if needed, be hungry for the job, firm in concentration and determination to get the job, anticipate the sort of questions the interviewer may ask and have responses. Being this determined and organised the applicant follows their plan, implementing it and getting the job, giving no time for nervousness to be a factor and no time for the interviewer to get the upper hand. IMO this is the approach the WTs need to take, avoid the shakey start of our last game against the Titans at all costs otherwise you lose the interviewer early and it is hard to win them back…
Preview: Wests Tigers v Roosters
VENUE & TIME: Sydney Football Stadium, Sat, September 11, 6.30pm (AEST)
COVERAGE: Channel 9
HEAD TO HEAD: Played 17 – Roosters 10, Tigers 7.
LAST TIME: Round 8, 2010 – Roosters 12-8.
WALKING WOUNDED: The Tigers are still without strike centre Chris Lawrence (jaw) but hope to have him back by week three of the finals – assuming they are still alive and kicking. They are otherwise at full strength. The Roosters welcome back rookie centre Kane Linnett from a knee injury and have a fully fit roster at their disposal. Coach Brian Smith will trim his bench from seven to four shortly before kick-off.
FORM: Both sides enter the finals in great shape. There are no injury or suspensions to worry about and the recent form-line couldn’t be much better. The Tigers won three in a row before losing narrowly to Gold Coast last round. But don’t read too much into that result. The Tigers were down on troops and still almost got the Titans. They will take a lot of heart from that performance. The Roosters ended a worrying three- match losing streak with a round 25 win over Manly and backed it up with a clinical – if not overly convincing – win over the lowly Cowboys. Their trifecta of gongs at the Dally Ms on Tuesday night was a nice boost on finals eve and they go into this contest with truckloads of confidence.
WHO’S HOT: While the big men go at each other up front, rival five-eighths Todd Carney and Benji Marshall will ultimate decide the match. Both have been in outstanding form this season, with Carney winning the Dally M Medal and Marshall not too far behind him. There is not a struck match between them in attack, with stats revealing Marshall is at his most dangerous from inside his own half while Carney is deadly from short range. This game threatens to be the closest of the four finals and could come down to goal-kicking – a clear advantage for the Roosters. Carney’s success rate is 81 per cent while Marshall is at 65 per cent. The Kiwi star has been in better form in recent weeks but can still pull out a shocker with the boot when it’s least expected.
And don’t under-estimate the impact rivals coaches Tim Sheens (Tigers) and Brian Smith (Roosters) will have on this match. They have spent over 1100 NRL games between them in the box and know what it takes to win finals matches. Smith believes this is his best chance to win that elusive first premiership.
WE THINK: Normally home ground advantage is such a big factor in week one of the finals but here it is inconsequential. In fact, apart from having to use the visitors’ room, SFS tenants the Roosters will feel right at home. Both teams are wonderful to watch with ball in hand and the big men don’t mind getting into the collision, setting the scene for a terrific contest. The sixth-placed Roosters know a loss could end their season while the Tigers are likely to survive should they lose. The Tricolours may be a little bit more desperate as a result. It’s a real toss of the coin job and the old 50c piece has fallen the Roosters’ way.
Roosters by 7
Preview: Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters, NRL second qualifying final
By Christopher Sutton
September 09, 2010
Foxsports.com.au and rugby league legend Laurie Daley bring you everything you need to know about Saturday’s second qualifying final between Wests Tigers and Sydney Roosters.
WHAT, WHERE & WHEN:
Second qualifying final, Sydney Football Stadium, 6.30pm (EST) Saturday
LWWWL (Wests Tigers); WWLLL (Sydney Roosters)
THE NEXT STEP:
Tigers: A week off as reward for winning is a very real possibility, should either St George Illawarra or Penrith slip up. Meanwhile it would take four teams below them winning for the Tigers to be eliminated.
Roosters: A win is the only way to ensure survival for the Roosters, while a loss will turn them into nervous spectators until the end of the weekend.
TALE OF THE TAPE:
The Tigers’ most recent losses, against South Sydney and Gold Coast Titans, were both nail-biters. In between, they racked up big wins against Penrith and Melbourne Storm. The Roosters’ season was on the skids until their second-half revival against Manly in round 25, though their form against North Queensland Cowboys was far from convincing. The Roosters won both head-to-head battles in 2010, the first 44-32 in a free-flowing affair and the other 12-8 in a dour defensive struggle.
Sydney Roosters concede more penalties than any other team, averaging 6.4 indiscretions per game. Coincidentally that is exactly the same number of penalties Wests Tigers receive per game, second only behind Melbourne Storm. In what could be a close battle, don’t be surprised if a field goal is the difference. The Tigers have kicked the most one-pointers of any team this season with seven, while the Roosters have kicked only one.
Benji Marshall v Todd Carney: It’s impossible to ignore the Dally M Medal winner and the man who finished fourth in the race. Two truly unpredictable playmakers line-up opposite each other, pitting Marshall’s organisational skills (23 try assists, 33 linebreak assists) and Carney’s finishing prowess (15 tries, 20 linebreaks) in a one-on-one battle that could decide the match.
TALK THE TALK:
“Having a coach with as many premierships (Tim Sheens) has won is great for us, he knows what to do this time of the year, along with all the coaching staff.” Tigers winger Lote Tuqiri.
“I’m feeling like it’s as good a chance as I’ve ever had to win a premiership with any team I’ve ever coached.” Roosters coach Brian Smith.
MATCH ODDS: Wests Tigers $1.85, Sydney Roosters $1.95 (TAB Sportsbet; 9/9)
LAURIE DALEY SAYS:
“This will be another toss of the coin clash between the two entertainers of these finals. The battle between Marshall and Carney will be worth the price of admission alone and I can’t wait to see what these two teams can produce on the big stage. I just don’t know which way it’s going to go? If I had to lean a way it would be the Tigers. The club hasn’t been in the finals since that premiership winning campaign of 2005. The players know too well what if feels like to miss out on playing September football and that may be enough motivation to see the Tigers come out on top. As long as their pack stands up and defends well against the Roosters, the Tigers should have enough points in them to get the job done.”
DALEY’S PREDICTION: Tigers by four points
Wests Tigers v Sydney Roosters
September 9, 2010
Saturday, Sydney Football Stadium, 6.30pm
Referees: Shayne Hayne, M Cecchin
Head to head: Roosters 10 Tigers 7
Last time: Roosters 12 bt Tigers 8 at Campbelltown (round 8, 2010)
Record in finals: Tigers: 4-0 Roosters 43-45
TAB SportsBet: Tigers $1.85, Roosters $1.95
FootyTab: Roosters +1.5
The Tigers missed out on a valuable top-two spot as a result of their three-point loss on the road against the Titans last weekend. They put in a poor first half, and although they came back in the second they couldn’t quite get the win against a team that is renowned for sticking at the contest. The Tigers can’t afford anything less than an 80-minute effort in this game. If they lose concentration for a significant period of time, the Roosters have got the players to make them pay.
Despite having lost to the Titans, the Tigers go into this game with plenty of wins behind them in recent times. They have won seven of their last 10 games, including three straight before last weekend. The Roosters were in danger of missing the finals after losing three straight, but rescued the situation by beating the Sea Eagles 30-14 and the Cowboys 18-8. They have the Dally M player of the year, five-eighth Todd Carney, in tremendous form, and plenty of other dangerous attackers as well. Both teams will create plenty of chances, which means neither can feel safe at any stage.