Marshall returns fire at ‘lucky’ claim
Greg Prichard | August 5, 2009
THE war of words between Wests Tigers and Manly continued yesterday, with Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall hitting back at the suggestion by Sea Eagles second-rower Anthony Watmough that the Tigers got lucky in Monday night’s thriller.
Watmough, when interviewed on the field by Fox Sports straight after the Tigers had won 19-18 at the SFS, said: ‘‘It came down to two 80-metre, 90-metre tries they scored. If it wasn’t for that, [and] the bounce of the ball goes our way, it’s a different game. But that’s footy and they got all the luck, and we had to work hard for what we did.
‘‘It’s a credit to our boys, we really stuck in there. I’m not going to take anything away from them, but we really dug deep when things were going against us,’’ he said.
The Tigers gathered for a recovery session at Enfield pool yesterday and their star players said the win was as well deserved as any of the four in a row they had recorded to revive their hopes of making the finals. The Tigers are ninth, two points outside of the top eight.
‘‘Yeah, I heard that,’’ Marshall said of Watmough’s comments. ‘‘He’s entitled to say what he wants, he was the best player with the comeback that they had, but it was no fluke that we won. We were leading 18-0 in the first half and football’s football, you’ve got to take every opportunity as it comes.
‘‘You’ve still got to defend the next set or hold teams out. In the end we could have let it go, but we held on and got the win and got the two points we needed. You have to make your own luck and he knows enough about football to know you need a bit of luck and to play well, and we did play well.
‘‘In the first half we played some of the best football we’ve played and in the second half we knew they were going to come back. They’re a great team, but we held them out and we deserved that win as much as any of the four we’ve had in a row.’’
Hooker and captain Robbie Farah added: ‘‘First half, we were the better side. We defended well and even though they made a few line breaks our scramble was great. I thought, counterattack-wise, we blew them off the park with our counterattack.
‘‘He’s probably right [that] in the second half they came home the stronger and we probably put the cue in the rack there a bit. Credit to them, but they had their chances to win the game in the end. I thought we deserved to win, especially the way we started.
‘‘It was a big game for both teams and I thought our first 50 to 60 minutes was great. Even at the start of the second half we were kicking to the corners, making them go the length of the field. In the last 20 minutes I thought we probably panicked a bit, but we held on in the end.’’
Tigers second-rower Gareth Ellis said the team’s veteran coach, Tim Sheens, was good at keeping things calm and ensuring the Tigers don’t get overexcited as they bid to continue their late-season run all the way to the finals.
‘‘Tim offers perspective and that’s the key,’’ Ellis said. ‘‘We’re nowhere near there yet. We’ve put ourselves in the position where every week now is a bit of a grand final for us. We’re out of the eight still, so we need to keep winning and take each game as it comes.
‘‘We’ve got the Roosters this week and they’re playing for their pride. That’s a dangerous team to be playing against.’’
The last-placed Roosters will host the Tigers at the SFS on Sunday and Farah said people who thought this would be an easier game for the Tigers didn’t see the Roosters beat Newcastle last weekend.
‘‘I thought they were awesome against the Knights,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s going to be a tough one for us. They don’t want to run last, they’re playing for their coach, Brad Fittler, they’re playing for ‘Fitzy’ [Craig Fitzgibbon], who’s going overseas at the end of the year, and they’re playing to impress Brian Smith as well for next year.
‘‘So they’ve got plenty of reasons to play well.’’