Wests Tigers emerge from doom and gloom
May 1, 2011 - 7:14PM
The shadow of doubt that has hung over Wests Tigers lifted on Sunday as the team many had expected to push NRL premiers St George Illawarra the hardest in 2011 finally began delivering.
Buoyed by the news delivered on Friday that coach Tim Sheens had rejected a big money offer to head to Penrith in 2012, the Tigers released the shackles at Canberra Stadium, the Raiders helpless to weather the onslaught of a 49-12 rout.
While the win only lifted the Tigers to seventh on the ladder, the swagger was back with the likes of Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah - their kicking game dumbfounding the hosts with Farah’s chip and chase to set up Marshall’s four-pointer a case in point.
“Lucky for myself it came off - last week I tried one and I got bagged for it but I guess that’s the way we play - we live and die by the sword, we back ourselves as players,” Farah said.
"Sometimes it comes off and sometimes it doesn’t - today it came off.
"It was an important game for us going into the bye and coming off two pretty poor performances.
"We could have really slipped away there, 3-5 we would have been if we lost today but we’re back in it now at 4-4 and a decent for and against, we’re back in the positive.
“We’ve given ourselves a chance now.”
As for the drama surrounding Sheens, Farah said it was good to have the distraction out of the way.
"It’s good to see that he stuck with us - like he said we’ve got some unfinished business at the Tigers and he wanted to be around to win a premiership in the next couple of years so that’s the goal now.
“… we’ve got some good stability now for the next three years with our coaching staff and with our playing group - it’s up to us now to turn that into some success.”
Just one win would do the Raiders at the moment, with the glory of last year’s brilliant run to the finals a distant memory.
“That adds to the disappointment and the frustration of everybody,” Tongue said.
“The playing group had huge expectations but the season’s not lost.”
And while the Tigers may have given a hint that they were back in premiership reckoning, it’s hardly likely to bother the Dragons who cruised to the top of the NRL ladder with a 30-0 thumping of Parramatta at WIN Jubilee Oval on Sunday.
But coach Wayne Bennett was wary of the impact the upcoming representative season would have on his side, with ten players to play in the Test and City-Country game on Friday night.
“If you’d said to us we’d be seven and one after eight weeks with what we had in front of us … we’re really pleased with that,” Bennett said.
“It’s been a bit of a driving factor in the club, to make sure we’re well positioned now so if in the next two months the players are tired and worn out, we can get through that without being under too much pressure and come out the other side with another eight weeks to go in the comp and still be well positioned.”
The Warriors remain outside the top eight on percentages despite beating Penrith 26-18 at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday, while Newcastle’s dip out of the eight could get worse with the Knights still unsure how long skipper Kurt Gidley will be out with a subluxed shoulder.
WESTS TIGERS CRUSH CANBERRA 49-12 IN NRL
By Wayne Cousins, Canberra Stadium
1/05/2011 3:54:17 PM
Wests Tigers recorded their best win of the season with a superb 49-12 victory over Canberra Raiders at Canberra Stadium in round 8 of the Telstra Premiership today.
Leading by three converted tries at half-time, Wests Tigers piled on the points to record a very impressive victory.
Wests Tigers lost prop Bryce Gibbs with an ankle injury and was replaced by rising young forward Ben Murdoch-Masila who played his first premiership match this season after overcoming a shoulder injury.
Referee Ashley Klein called on video referee Pat Reynolds in the 6th minute to rule whether Wests Tigers prop Keith Galloway grounded the ball under the posts after a grubber kick by hooker and captain Robbie Farah bounced off the leg of a Canberra player. It was ruled no try.
The video ref was called on again in the 10th minute to determine whether Canberra full-back Josh Dugan had scored under the posts after regathering a downfield kick from half-back Matt Orford. The try was awarded to give Canberra a 4-0 lead. Centre Jarrod Croker converted from in front for a 6-0 lead after 11 minutes.
Wests Tigers hit back two minutes later when second-rower Chris Heighington split the defence to race 30 metres before linking up with full-back Wade McKinnon who scored under the posts for his second try of the season. Marshall converted the try for a 6-6 all scoreline after 14 minutes.
A superb read of play by Farah on the last tackle saw him put through a chip kick behind the Canberra defence. The ball bounced perfectly for Farah who offloaded to Marshall to send him on a 25 metre run to score behind the posts. Marshall converted the try to give Wests Tigers a 12-6 lead after 20 minutes.
Wests Tigers produced some solid tryline defence for two consecutive sets after prop Andrew Fifita knocked on from the re-start.
The hard work paid off when McKinnon stepped back inside past three defenders to score out wide in the 26th minute for his second try of the game to give Wests Tigers a 16-6 lead. Marshall converted the try for an 18-6 lead.
A clearing kick on the last tackle by half-back Robert Lui saw Dugan knock the ball on after keeping it in the field of play. Two plays later from the scrum win, Marshall found open space before linking up with winger Matt Utai who stepped past a defender to score out wide. Marshall converted the try from the sideline to give Wests Tigers a 24-6 lead after 31 minutes.
Wests Tigers defence held firm for the remaining of the first half to give them an 18 point lead at half-time.
Marshall stretched Wests Tigers lead to 25-6 when he calmly landed a 40 metre field goal in the 51st minute.
Dugan scored a 30 metre try under the posts after running off an inside pass. Croker converted the try to leave Canberra trailing 25-12 after 55 minutes.
Wests Tigers stretched their lead to 29-12 when second-rower Liam Fulton ran onto a short pass from Farah to crash his way over under the posts. Marshall converted the try to give Wests Tigers a 31-12 lead after 62 minutes.
Heighington added to the try tally when he used his strength to barge over out wide after it appeared centre Tim Moltzen had bombed a try when he elected to take a defender on with winger Mitch Brown unmarked on his left. Fortunately Moltzen offloaded the ball for Heighington to score. Marshall converted the try from the sideline for a commanding 37-12 lead.
Referee Gerard Sutton called on the video referee to rule whether prop Andrew Fifita had planted the ball down over the tryline next to the posts in the 75th minute after some razzle dazzle play from the most entertaining team in the premiership. The try was awarded for a 41-12 lead.
Marshall converted the try for a 43-12 scoreline after 76 minutes.
The tryscoring feast continued when Lui sent second-rower Simon Dwyer over in the 78th minute near the posts. Tim Moltzen converted the try for a 49-12 scoreline.
Tigers leave Raiders for dead
Updated May 1, 2011 16:06:00
Wests Tigers celebrated the retention of master-coach Tim Sheens with a commanding 49-12 thrashing of the Raiders at Canberra Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers were in command from the word go, racking up four tries in the first half to lead 24-6 at the break and continued the job in the second stanza.
Wade McKinnon (two) was the only multiple scorer among eight Tigers tries with influential playmakers Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah at the peak of their powers.
Farah provided one of the highlights of the match in the opening half when he chipped into space to set up Marshall, whose brilliance from a scrum play moments later put former Bulldogs winger Matt Utai over for an easy try.
The Raiders could consider themselves lucky to have registered any points at all - two tries to Josh Dugan - in a sloppy and ill-disciplined display short on defensive muscle and staying power.
The closest the home side came was to peg the score back to 25-12 in the 55th minute, but the Tigers ran rampant with four tries in the closing quarter of the match to rack up nearly a half-century of points.
Wests Tigers really needed the win to steer their inconsistent campaign back on course following two losses on the trot and three defeats in their last four starts.
Canberra on the other hand is a side completely bereft of direction with that defeat its seventh in a row in a deplorable 1-7 season.
Wests run in eight tries in demolition of Raiders
- Steve Gee
- From: The Sunday Telegraph
- May 01, 2011 3:27PM
KIWI captain Benji Marshall has delivered an ominous warning for Friday’s Anzac Test pulling out all his tricks to steer the Wests Tigers to a thumping 49-12 win over Canberra.
The Tigers playmaker was at his talismanic best, scoring a try, landing a 40m field goal and generally bamboolzling the hapless Raiders defence who are now winless since round one.
It was a performance that will no doubt leave Tigers and Australian coach Tim Sheens with mixed emotions as he prepares to stop the playmaker in the Anzac Test.
With Marshall given terrific support from skipper Robbie Farah and half Robert Lui, Wests were simply too hot to handle for the Green Machine, with the trio guns involved in seven of the visitors’ eight tries.
With the Raiders taking an early 6-0 lead courtesy of a controversial Josh Dugan try, Marshall and Farah combined brilliantly in the 19th minute to give Tigers the lead when the hooker chip kicked and regathered, to set up his five-eighth for a try.
And after powering Tigers to a 24-6 half-time lead, the continued the rot in the second stanza.
Earlier, Tigers fullback Wade McKinnon has scored two tries in the first half. McKinnon scored his first try in the 12th minute after a terrific 40m bust from Tigers’ lock Chris Heighington and then claimed his double 14 minutes later with a solo run from 10m off the Raiders line to beat some feeble defence.
Unfortunately for Raiders fans it was a sympton of the opening stanza, with the Green Machine stuck in first gear.
Star fullback Josh Dugan earlier gave the crowd hope of a winning day after was awarded a controversial try to open the scoring in the 10th minute when he won the race to a Matt Orford chip kick from deep inside the Raiders half.
In a remarkable effort, Dugan was pulled down by McKinnon and then popped to his feet when the Tigers No. 1 slipped off the tackle, before diving for the line.
Replays showed Dugan lost the ball before grounding it, but video referee Pat Reynolds ruled Benji Marshall stripped the ball loose as he tried to prevent the try.
However, Marshall was soon smiling, with the Kiwis Test captain scoring nine minutes later to give the visitors a 12-6 lead after a brilliant chip kick and regather from Robbie Farah that began just inside the Tigers’ half.
McKinnon’s second try pushed the lead to 18-6, before Matt Utia crossed 10 minutes, with Marshall this time the architect.
Capitalising off a scrum win after Dugan had knocked on attempting to prevent a 40/20 kick, the Tigers playmakers stepped and dummied across field like only he can to bamboozle the Raiders defence and deliver a perfect ball for Utai to crash over.
Tigers hand Raiders seventh straight loss
By Matt Sadler AAP Sun, May 01, 2011 - 6:50 PM
Canberra’s NRL season is on life support after they crashed to their seventh consecutive loss in a 49-12 demolition by a rampant Wests Tigers at Canberra Stadium.
Benji Marshall spearheaded Wests Tigers’ eight-try onslaught against increasingly flimsy defence on Sunday as their team celebrated coach Tim Sheens’ decision to knock back a big offer from Penrith and stay with the club.
For the Raiders the situation is so desperate that beleaguered coach David Furner revealed he may not travel to the Gold Coast to take up his role as assistant to Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens in Friday night’s Test against New Zealand.
“As a coach my importance is with this club and with these players,” Furner said. “Great honour to have an opportunity, but (the priority) is this club.”
Captain Alan Tongue acknowledged the Raiders had reached one of their lowest ebbs but he insisted their finals hopes weren’t over despite being only one game short of the club’s record losing streak set way back in 1985-86.
“The season’s not lost. Don’t worry about that,” Tongue said.
“We’re going to have to show some character to get out of this.”
The Tigers balanced their season record at 4 wins and 4 losses to be inside the top eight.
After Raiders fullback Josh Dugan opened the scoring in the tenth minute, the Tigers replied with four tries before half-time, a double from Wade McKinnon and one each from Marshall and Matt Utai.
Furner conceded that his team was not able to recover from the damage inflicted in the first half which saw them 24-6 down.
The kicking game of Marshall and halfback Robert Lui consistently troubled the home side who were repeatedly caught out of position and also let themselves down with poor ball control.
When Dugan scored his second try, the first of the second half, there were brief hopes for a home team revival.
But the Tigers snuffed those out with a try to Liam Fulton and three more in the last 10 minutes to Chris Heighington, Andrew Fifita and Simon Dwyer.
Furner said it was more a case of the Tigers being given too much ball than his own players giving up.
“That was way too much possession for the Wests Tigers. You give us that much possession and that’s what’ll happen to an opposition team,” Fulton said.
Tigers captain Robbie Farah said it was an important win coming after losses to the Titans and the Broncos.
“I thought the young guys really stepped up. I though Robert Lui’s kicking game, especially in that first half, really won us that battle in the middle,” said Farah.
Wests run in eight tries in demolition of Raiders
Steve Gee From: The Sunday Telegraph May 01, 2011 3:27PM
TIGERS 49 - RAIDERS 12
A FLU-STRICKEN Benji Marshall gave Tim Sheens an ominous warning of what lies ahead in the Anzac Test, pulling out all his tricks to bamboozle a hapless Canberra on the way to an emphatic 49-12 win Sunday.
Battling the flu for a fortnight, Kiwi playmaker Marshall not only consigned the Green Machine to their seventh straight loss, but also left Australian coach Sheens in no doubt what his Kangaroos must stop on Friday.
With partners in crime Robbie Farah and Robert Lui also in irresistible touch, Marshall and the Tigers were a class above the home side, powering in for eight tries to leave the 13,425 Raiders fans booing their men late in the match.
The Tigers coach was full of praise for his playmaker, but couldn’t help but to hope aloud that Marshall stays sick at least until Friday night’s Test at Skilled Park.
Sheens said the message was clear for the Kangaroos after Marshall again showed yesterday why he is the world’s best player with a try, seven goals from seven attempts and a 60m field goal.
Asked to sum up the talismanic five-eighth, the veteran coach said: "It’s the unpredictability of the guy that you’ve really got to watch.
“You’ve got to keep pressure on him all the time and it’s going to be up to the Australian side to keep that because it was the last play of the last set that they had the ball last time that he won the game. So you can’t go to sleep at any stage with a player of his ability.”
The Tigers fell behind early after a controversial 10th minute try to Josh Dugan.
But to the delight of Sheens and Farah, the side responded with four unanswered tries to head to the break up 24-6, then scored with another four tries to one in the second half.
Marshall’s 19th-minute try, backing up a chip and chase from Farah, gave the Tigers the lead for the first time.
Then 10 minutes before halftime, he danced and dummied his way across field with a brilliant sleight of hand to set up Matt Utai for a try.
And if that wasn’t enough, the 26-year-old casually potted a 40m field goal 11 minutes into the second half to blow the score to 25-6.
Shellshocked Raiders coach David Furner said basic errors were killing the side and flagged mass changes.
“We’re definitely not learning from those and we’re putting pressure on ourselves as a team,” he said. “That was embarrassing at the end.”
Skipper Alan Tongue said the loss was a low point of his 11 years at the club.
“It’s probably one of the lowest points,” he said.
“We are frustrated with ourselves. We understand it’s not acceptable.”
Tongue said the club’s slide after last season’s stunning finals breakthrough was hard to explain.
“It adds to the disappointment and frustration [because] everybody had such high expectations and we did too, but the season is not lost,” he said.
“We need to show some great character here to get us out of this.”
Half-crook Marshall still fully sick for Tigers
May 2, 2011
IF THIS was a sneak preview of what to expect from Benji Marshall in Friday’s Anzac Test, Tim Sheens will quickly dispel any elation over his star five-eighth’s performance as he prepares Australia this week.
Marshall, the last-gasp Kiwis hero in the Four Nations final last November, had his fingerprints all over the 37-point annihilation of bottom-of-the-ladder Canberra yesterday.
Brilliant with ball in hand and exhibiting footwork befitting one of those celebrity dance-off television shows, he was a perpetual threat despite a lingering illness.
‘‘He played crook. He had a flu,’’ Sheens said. ‘‘He’s had it for a couple of weeks and battled with it. Maybe another week and he’ll get over it … after Friday night.’’
Wearing his Test coaching cap last night, Sheens said: ‘‘It’s the unpredictability of the guy that you’ve really got to watch. You’ve got to keep pressure on him the whole time. You can’t go to sleep at any stage with a player of his ability.’’
Marshall, who contributed a try, seven conversions and a field goal, was not alone in a Tigers line-up that was a joy to watch.
In tandem with captain Robbie Farah and halfback Robert Lui, their kicking game was almost flawless, and they carved up a hapless Raiders with merciless precision.
Canberra, one of the more fancied teams in pre-season discussion, are at rock bottom after a seventh consecutive defeat, the latest their second heaviest ever in the capital.
It could have been even worse - both their tries to fullback Josh Dugan were dubious - and the boos from the Mal Meninga Stand at full-time told of a sorry afternoon.
The Tigers avoided a third straight loss and solidified themselves in the top eight. ‘‘It was an important win for us today going into next week’s bye,’’ Farah said.
‘‘We could have really slipped away there - three [wins] and five [losses] we would have been if we lost today. But we’re back in it now.’’
The Tigers had early cause for protest in the shape of a controversial opening try awarded to Dugan, who had bolted through the Tigers’ defensive line to latch on to a Matt Orford kick.
Dugan ended up beneath the posts but the grounding was another story. He clearly spilled it but video referee Pat Reynolds ruled Marshall, via a stray arm, had stripped the ball in the scramble to stop the Canberra No.1, and pressed the green light. Farah did not agree.
‘‘It baffles me sometimes the decisions they come up with,’’ he said.
‘‘Not just our game, but the footy [on Saturday night]. You see it every weekend. It’s going to cost a team a game, an important game, especially towards the back end of the year.’’
Any suggestion that the incident would affect the outcome, however, was quickly erased by the Tigers, chiefly Marshall and Farah. Four tries in 18 minutes - two to fullback Wade McKinnon, one to Marshall himself and another to winger Matt Utai - came partly as a result of Tigers wizardry but also some dire defence and handling by the hosts.
Among the highlights was Farah’s audacious chip, chase and retrieval from his own half to set up Marshall after 19 minutes. Marshall then produced his own trickery, dazzling Canberra’s left-side defence with a trademark scrum play at the half-hour mark that put Utai over.
Dugan, at least, could hold his head high after scoring his second try midway through the second half - albeit from an obviously forward Orford pass. However, the misery only continued for Canberra as first Marshall landed a wonky 41-metre field goal then forwards Liam Fulton, Chris Heighington, Andrew Fifita and Simon Dwyer plunged over for easy tries in the final 20 minutes.
Raiders captain Alan Tongue insisted his side’s season could still be salvaged but admitted he had rarely felt more despondent in his decade-long career.
‘‘It’s probably one of the lowest points,’’ Tongue said. ‘‘We’re in a bit of a tough spot. We’re going to have to show some great character here to get us out of this.’’