Tiger tricks set to play havoc
- Steve Gee
- From: The Daily Telegraph
- September 25, 2010 12:00AM
THEY are the plays that have propelled the Wests Tigers to within a game of the holy grail.
The Farah-Tuqiri scrum move, the Ellis crash line, the Marshall-Farah double-cut spread and the Marshall-Heighington inside ball.
Every rival knows them. But as Canberra ruefully discovered last week, stopping the Tim Sheens playbook is another thing.
Up against the near-impregnable defence of St George Illawarra tonight at ANZ Stadium, it’s these trick plays that may well be the secret to cracking the red and white wall.
“They’ve got their bag of five tricks and they just know how to execute them perfectly and why they work,” retired Test halfback Brett Kimmorley said.
The combination of Sheens’ innovation and the vision and skill of skipper Robbie Farah is the key to the Tigers’ success when it comes to set plays, said Kimmorley, an assessment shared by Queensland assistant coach Michael Hagan.
The other crucial factors are their ballplayers - Farah, Benji Marshall and Robert Lui - reacting on the hop to the movement of defenders, and quick play- the-balls.
“It [a set-play] is normally set up with a very good platform of go-forward and play-the-ball speed before they look to run because, defensively, it’s much harder to contain once you’re on the back foot,” Hagan said.
Time and again this season the Tigers have turned to their favourite moves in key zones - usually up the corridors near the sidelines - and scored points.
A classic example is the Farah-Lote Tuqiri scrum move, where the skipper slips into lock and picks up the ball to create a three-on-two overlap on the short side.
Tuqiri memorably scored a short-range version of the try in his first touch back in the NRL against Manly in round one and followed up against the Raiders with a 60m effort.
Another patented move is the inside ball from Marshall or Lui following a cross-field run.
Hagan said lock Chris Heighington was a key player in open play moves, with the No. 13 frequently turned to for a quick play-the-ball to launch an attack.
“Heighington is a guy they would expect to trigger a decent play-the-ball and they would normally go off the back of him to the other edge,” Hagan said.
"He’s that middle, third backrower so he can set it up on the left-hand side to go to the right edge for Fulton, or he can set it up on the right edge to go to Ellis on the left side.
“He’s often that person who can call the ball very flat and quick on the short side, for example to bend the line and play the ball quick.”
Heighington can also run a good inside line off Marshall, as he did to score against Canberra.
Kimmorley said the Tigers - and also Dragons - were among the best set-play sides. He said Tigers players had the backing of Sheens to “have a go” as long as they have rehearsed.
“They don’t try and do anything beyond those five plays. The scrum-play one is perfect,” Kimmorley said.
“Tim obviously sits there and decides what scrum move is going to work because everyone has different defensive patterns, like some teams have centres that like to come in, and that’s what was created on that scrum move against the Raiders.”
The plays are certain to have featured heavily in Dragons video sessions this week, with St George Illawarra winger Jason Nightingale admitting he will be on alert for the patented scrum move. “They are pretty unpredictable all across the park and I think you’ve just got to be on your toes,” the Kiwi Test winger said.