Smashing Ellis helps Tigers hit top eight
Jessica Halloran | August 10, 2009
Roosters 10 Wests Tigers 17
THE Wests Tigers’ finals dreams are coming to fruition. A seven-point win over the Roosters had them jump into the top eight and a big-hitting Englishman helped slam them into the finals race.
In the middle of the side’s dressing rooms Gareth Ellis studied the team list in Big League and he still couldn’t work out who he had smashed. His hit had been fierce. It was the body blow that swung the momentum of the game the Tigers’ way early in the second half.
‘‘It was the big forward, I don’t know his name,’’ Ellis said, before studying the team list again. ‘‘I’m not sure.’’
Ellis’s victim was eventually found. In the Roosters dressing rooms Stanley Waqa sat in his club suit, eating spaghetti bolognaise in the wake of another loss.
‘‘It was me, he hit me. I didn’t feel anything,’’ Waqa said of the tackle that left him wiped out in the middle of the field. ‘‘When I saw him, I just wanted to run at him. He is a big unit. I found that out.’’
Strong performances from the likes of Ellis, who also had a hand in the opening try, and their captain Robbie Farah, who for the second week running sealed victory with a late field goal, have the Tigers’ finals dreams on course.
With the win they moved into the top eight in grinding style. They were mildly weary from the short turnaround from their thrilling Monday night win over Manly. Coach Tim Sheens said they slogged it out for victory.
‘‘We made hard work of it that’s for sure,’’ Sheens said. ''They were ready for the game, credit to them, they turned up to play, we had to work hard too so I suppose in that respect it’s a good win for us. They weren’t down. They played to the end. We had to really work hard to get the win.
''Finally, we seem to be able to finish a side off with a field goal. Robbie’s got that mastered and that’s important because we’ve lost games over the last couple of years without being able to do that.
‘‘At the end of the day we felt Monday night in the legs as the game went on. Fortunately, we got through it.’’
Farah knew it wasn’t attractive to watch.
‘‘It wasn’t pretty, I don’t think we can be happy with the way we played,’’ he said.
It was the Roosters’ defence that had initially been fierce and they also found holes in the Tigers’, with Sydney’s Setaimata Sa and Shaun Kenny-Dowall managing tries in the first half. The Roosters looked a fraction more dangerous going into half-time up 8-4.
The Tigers weren’t threatening but then Englishman Ellis started charging. Farah praised the Tigers forward for his work ethic, which saw him finish with the stats of 15 tackles, 10 hit-ups and 92 metres gained. Ellis also had a hand in the Tigers’ first try with a sweet pass to Taniela Tuiaki in the 31st minute.
‘‘Overall, the blokes needed to pull the whip on themselves and they did,’’ Sheens said.
The Tigers started to lift after the break. Tuiaki crossed the line again but it was ruled ‘‘no try’’ because of obstruction to Riley Brown - a refereeing decision Sheens later blasted as ‘‘ridiculous’’.
After that decision went against them the Tigers upped the intensity. Ellis said: ‘‘While the decision was being made, we said whatever the decision was, we had to get back in with some positive plays, whether it be defensively or in attack.’’
And then Ellis slammed Waqa. ‘‘I think you could sense that the momentum of the game was starting to swing our way a little bit,’’ he said. ‘‘We started to get a bit of a sniff. The first half was really tough and we felt the Roosters were outplaying and outenthusing us … what was important was that we didn’t let the scoreboard get too far away from us … we were in the position to fight back.’’
Farah had the final say, like he did against Manly. With five minutes to go and the Tigers leading 16-10, he kicked a field goal to break the Roosters.