Round 4 of the Telstra NRL premiership saw the Wests Tigers travel to the SFS to take on arch rivals the Sydney Roosters. The Tigers entered this match with all sorts of injury problems as Gareth Ellis, Liam Fulton, Chris Lawrence, Lote Tuqiri, Rob Lui and Beau Ryan were all out with injury. To complicate matters further, captain Robbie Farah was playing with a persistent groin injury and it was revealed during the week that he would require surgery to correct the problem.
Needless to say it would be a massive ask of the Tigers to get a win in this match, however they did welcome back prop Bryce Gibbs from injury to help bolster the forward pack. The Roosters on the other hand were looking to bounce back to form after back to back losses however they fielded a nearly full strength team for this match.
The Tigers kicked off to the Roosters and got away to a nice start as Wade McKinnon was put into space early before finding Benji Marshall in support who in turn found Tim Moltzen who was caught just short of the line to be denied a try. It was the Roosters who opened the scoring in the 5th minute however as Shaun Kenny-Dowell beat Geoff Daniela, Tim Moltzen and forced his way over the line with Chris Heighington and Wade McKinnon on his back. It was a try that should not have been scored but it was not converted by Anasta.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, their execution in attack was very poor early on as the Roosters looked the complete opposite, stretching the Tigers on the edges and their big forwards were making good metres. The Roosters went further in front in the 13th minute as prop Martin Kennedy brushed aside Robbie Farah and Simon Dwyer to score a soft try next to the posts. The try was converted by Anasta to put the Roosters out to a 10-0 lead. The Tigers were given a penalty in the 15th minute to go on the attack inside the Roosters half but it was to no avail as Simon Dwyer was hit in a good tackle and lost the ball close to the Roosters line.
The Roosters continued to look the more dangerous side throughout the first half as the Tigers simply could not get into gear in attack while their defence also seemed to lack cohesion at times. The Roosters had a try disallowed in the 28th minute as Tom Symonds failed to ground a grubber kick in the Tigers in-goal. The Tigers had a good chance to score in the 30th minute as they earnt a penalty close to the Roosters line but again the Roosters defence was just too good while the Tigers attack was not at its best. Todd Payten compounded the Tigers problems in the 33rd minute as he gave away a penalty within range for Braith Anasta to land a penalty goal and put the Roosters out to a 12-0 lead. There was no further change to the score leading into the halftime break as the Tigers had one last crack at the Roosters right on the siren.
Best players for the Tigers in the first half were Chris Heighington and Matt Utai while Benji Marshall was also busy but just seemed to lack some options with players outside of him in attack.
The Tigers received the ball but looked shaky in defence early as the Roosters big forwards constantly got over the advantage line, it was the Roosters who came up with the first mistake though, letting the pressure off the Tigers temporarily. Benji Marshall finally weighted a grubber kick well enough to give the Tigers a repeat set and force the Roosters into a line drop out in the 43rd minute. The Tigers finally got on the board through Aaron Woods who scored a simple try running off a flat pass from Farah to score next to the posts. Marshall made no mistake with the conversion to close the gap to 12-6 and keep them in the game.
Todd Carney was put into a yawning gap in the 48th minute only to clean up referee Tony Archer in the process. The movement was nullified by the Tigers but Martin Kennedy broke the Tigers on the next set and Anthony Minichello crossed soon after out wide. Anasta converted the try to extend the Roosters lead to 12 points once again. The Tigers were given a much need penalty in the 52nd minute as they looked to be struggling once again. The Tigers then began to mount some pressure of their own as they were able to get a repeat set of 6 close to the Roosters line. The Tigers almost scored through Al Schirnack as he hit a Marshall flat pass but was just caught short of the line.
The Roosters turned the ball over to the Tigers again shortly after in the 57th minute but again their defence was just too good for the Tigers. The Tigers afternoon was summed up when Robbie Farah put up a bomb which went sailing over the dead ball line with the Tigers on the attack. The Tigers cut the Roosters open in the 61st minute as Matt Utai combined well with Wade McKinnon to put him into a great gap. McKinnon in turn found Marshall who offloaded to Ayshford who was caught and when Tim Moltzen was caught just short of the line on the next play, it just showed how good the Roosters scrambling defence was today. Keith Galloway then came up with the hit of the match on Jake Friend as he caught him with a massive shoulder charge which had everyone stunned.
Try as they might though, the Tigers looked threatening at times but just couldn’t find a way to get across the Roosters line despite the best attempts of Benji Marshall and his patched up team. Despite losing Minichello to the sin bin, the Roosters sealed the Tigers fate when Todd Carney ran off a Mitchell Pearce pass to go around McKinnon and score under the posts. Anasta converted to give the Roosters a 24-6 win over a gallant, but massively depleted Tigers side who just lacked the cohesion and execution to put a dent into the Roosters.
Onto the players:
1. Wade McKinnon – One of the Tigers best today as he made several linebreaks and looked dangerous with the ball in hand. Unfortunately he just lacks genuine speed to be able to capitalise on his positional play. Safe at the back in fielding kicks but again showed up in defence late in the game by Todd Carney. 7.5/10.
2. Mitch Brown – Poor today. Fumbled the ball a couple of times and just never threatened in attack. 4/10.
3. Blake Ayshford – Limited opportunities in attack and one of the better players today out wide and he was also pretty good in defence. 7/10.
4. Tim Moltzen – Unfortunately he didn’t really play a halfbacks game and played more as a centre. This didn’t help Marshall as he looked to be everywhere trying everything to spark the Tigers attack. Moltzen went close to scoring a couple of tries but this was through support play rather than creating anything. Defensively he looked ok and while nowhere near his best, injuries will dictate he gets a few weeks to work himself back into some form hopefully. 6/10.
5. Matt Utai – Apart from a couple of handling errors, he was once again strong for the Tigers and took a lot of stopping in his kick returns and general running. 7/10.
6. Benji Marshall – Probably the Tigers best despite looking erratic at times, he was also pretty much a one person army in trying to spark the Tigers attack. Beat plenty of tackles but his kicking game was poor and he just didn’t have the usual options in Lui, Lawrence and Tuqiri out there to help him. Hopefully the knee injury he suffered late in the game is nothing more than a cork. 7.5/10.
7. Jacob Miller – Started off the bench in the end. Whether it was the right decision, only Sheens can answer but he had limited opportunities to make his mark on the game with the Tigers playing catchup football at the time. 5/10.
8. Andrew Fifita – Poor today as he ran sideways too often which hurt his running game. Broke a few tackles once again but the sideways running was ineffective and he needs to work hard on driving forward. 5/10.
9. Robbie Farah – Should not have played today despite throwing the pass for Aaron Woods try and coming up with a linebreak late in the game. He just could not stride out properly and his kicking game was terrible. His defence was also affected by the groin injury and I hope get gets himself operated on and into rehab quick smart. 6/10.
10. Keith Galloway – One of the Tigers better forwards although none of them really shone today. Big Keith had a couple of good runs and came up with a cracker of a shoulder charge on Jake Friend which was great to see but he was not able to dominate Martin Kennedy who caused the Tigers all sorts of problems today. 6.5/10
11. Simon Dwyer – His workrate needs to lift dramatically for someone who is playing 80 minutes. He only came up with 8 runs which was less than half of what Heighington came up with. Came up with a poor miss in conjunction with Farah which led to a try and otherwise he just isn’t doing enough out there. 5/10.
17. Al Schirnack – Better than last week and had a good go I thought. Defended well and had a couple of nice runs close to the Roosters line. I’d be more inclined to start him ahead of Dwyer who does not seem to show the same intensity as Schirnack does. 6/10.
13. Chris Heighington – The Tigers best forward today as he was constantly rucking it up and trying his hardest as always. Just shaded by Farah in topping the tackle count and the only Tigers forward to make over 100 metres in attack. 7/10.
14. Geoff Daniela – Started in the centres and he was poor, no other way to describe it. Beaten several times in defence, easily handled in attack and ended up on report for a lifting tackle which could earn him a week on the sidelines. 4/10.
16. Aaron Woods – Scored a well deserved try today as he again got through a good amount of work in his time on the field. Probably deserves to start over Fifita at this stage as his style of game is more of a traditional prop and he gets through the hard yards early. 6.5/10.
21. Bryce Gibbs – Started at lock but clearly looked short of a run out there which was to be expected. Far from his best but he needs match time which he looks certain to get over the next few weeks so hopefully we’ll see steady improvement in Bryce’s game. 5/10.
17. Todd Payten –Decent effort from Todd but never really threatened the Roosters pack despite getting through a decent amount of work. Made better metres in attack today which was good to see. 6.5/10.
http://live.nrlstats.com/matches/nrl/match6288.html - Will be updated
Overall team analysis:
Not so good today. The Tigers were a one man army with Marshall leading the way, but looking short of options for the most part. McKinnon chimed in from the back well with a couple of linebreaks and Utai ran the ball with venom but the forward pack failed to get over the top of the Roosters and this made the Tigers job that much harder in attack.
Again, the Tigers were not very strong in defence today as the Roosters forwards got over the advantage line and troubled the Tigers around the ruck. Out wide it wasn’t too bad, but Shaun Kenny-Dowell definitely got the better of Geoff Daniela and Mitch Brown who both looked lost and confused at times.
Unfortunately the kicking game was also poor, with the Tigers not building any pressure through their kicking game which made the Roosters job that much easier. Both Farah and Marshall were wayward with the boot and Moltzen only kicked a couple of times.
Team stats (Please refer to link below):
The Tigers tried hard today but their execution let them down and they just didn’t have the same sort of confidence we are used to seeing from them. Undoubtedly injuries have now got the better of the Tigers with key players right across the field now sitting on the sideline. The Tigers have got decent depth, but it’s being sorely tested at the moment and combinations in attack today did not click and the defence around the ruck was not as strong as what it could be. In the end they were outclassed by a stronger and more polished Roosters outfit.
The Tigers now face a short turnaround and take on South Sydney in what will prove a very tough ask given the Rabbitohs good form of late. Hopefully the Tigers can bounce back, but they’ll certainly be at long odds to knock over Souths in 5 day time.
Thanks Willow good report as always - I was actual;ly quiet proud of the team today - they lost but given how much of our cap was sitting opn the sidelines then we performed really well - I mean in a full strength team we were missing - Lote, Lawrence, Lui, Ellis, Fulton perhaps even Beau at a minimum and Gibbs, Moltzen and Farah all playing at less then full strength because of injury
there were a few dud performances daniela farah dwyer among others, but i think in the end things just didnt ‘click’ for us - we had our chances but couldnt capitalise. throw in the unforced errors and penalty count and its your typical losing performance.
hopefully we can turn it around next week
The roosters played well today, they had the mental edge and went on from there however I suspect they can’t improve too much from that display, excluding carney who is finding his feet. Wests Tigers have plenty of improvement in them particularly once the injured players return. Let’s see how things turn out in round 20 when both teams meet again at Leichhardt.
Their was plenty of effort 1 thru 17 but the application was poor and that comes from lack of combinations both in attack and defense. Iam afraid we are going to see lot more of these games over the next couple of months.
Agreed, but I think we’ll only see a lot more of these games if we keep chopping and changing the side.
Thank you Willow for a great report.
Dwyer needs to be dropped once everyone is back. Lack of involvement and drops the ball.
Daniela and Brown were ordinary.
Gibbs looked short of match fitness.
Farah needs to go and have surgery. A passenger at the moment.
Next week Moltzen to centre and Miller to half back. Daniela will be suspended. Hope Ellis is back as reported by Channel 9. He will also be short of match fitness but still better than Dwyer.