Willow's match report and player review

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Willow's match report and player review

Post by willow » Fri 25 Jun, 2010 10:58 pm

Round 16 of the Telstra NRL premiership saw the Wests Tigers travel into the heart of Dragon territory at WIN Jubliee oval in an enticing clash between 1st Vs 3rd on the competition table. The Tigers entered this match as big underdogs, and rightly so as the Dragons are leading the competition and have been the most consistent side this season, add to this an excellent record at Kogarah, an excellent defence and kicking game, well the Tigers were going to have their work cut out to get the points in this game.

The Tigers chances were also dealt a blow with halfback Rob Lui being ruled out earlier in the week due to a badly corked knee, there was also doubt over the fitness of Captain Robbie Farah, Chris Heighington, Wade McKinnon and Lote Tuqiri, who all picked up niggling injuries against the win over the Raiders last week. Thankfully all players aside from Lui were ruled fit to play. This also saw centre Blake Ayshford shift into the halves with Geoff Daniela coming into the side in the centres. The Dragons welcomed back Michael Weyman and Dean Young for this match in a boost for their side.

With a full house at Kogarah, just how would the Tigers measure up to the competition leaders?

1st half:
The Tigers kicked off and got away to a safe start off the first set. The Tigers made an early mistake through Lote Tuqiri in the 2nd minute though as he played at a kick in the in-goal and was trapped in-goal giving the Dragons a great opportunity to attack the Tigers line. The Dragons coughed up the ball a couple of tackles later though in a let off for the Tigers. In a big play for the Tigers, Robbie Farah did well to hang onto a runaway Jason Nightingale and managed to steal the ball. The Tigers were then given a penalty moments later to put them right on the attack. A grubber kick from Benji Marshall saw Chris Heighington charging through but Nightingale forced the ball dead giving the Tigers a repeat set. A poor pass from Marshall saw the Tigers lose ground and the Dragons came away from their own line.

A lost ball from Todd Payten in the 9th minute saw the Dragons go on the attack inside the Tigers half after Keith Galloway was penalised for a flop. The Tigers defence was equal to the task as the Dragons tried to force the pass. A good touch finder from Farah in the 11th minute settled things down for the Tigers. Wade McKinnon came up with a good bomb defusal in the 14th minute to give the Tigers a 20 metre re-start. The Dragons were awarded a penalty in the 16th minute on the Tigers line after Mark Flanagan hit Jamie Soward late. The Dragons opted for the shot at goal through Soward and hit it sweet to give the Dragons an 2-0 lead.

The Tigers came up with a lost ball in the 20th minute as Benji Marshall juggled it, this gave the Dragons another good attacking opportunity inside the Tigers half however Beau Ryan did well in defusing an attacking grubber kick. Some good play from the Tigers saw Chris Lawrence put Lote Tuqiri down the sideline however he lost the ball in an awkward tackle. The Dragons finally scored the first try of the match as Darious Boyd pushed through a tackle from Marshall and scored in the corner in the 24th minute. Soward never looked like missing from the sideline and the Dragons now led 8-0.

The Dragons were now starting to make good ground up the middle of the field while the Tigers looked to tire a little defensively. A great bomb take by Lote Tuqiri saw him put Wade McKinnon into a huge hole and he made it to the Dragons 30 metre line before being tackled and held too long which saw the Tigers get a penalty. The Tigers opened their scoring account through Chris Lawrence the Tigers trailing 8-4 after 32 minutes. The Tigers then chanced their hand by running the ball down the sideline deep inside their own half only for Tuqiri to be put into touch by Nightingale. This put the Dragons in decent attacking position however the Tigers defence was up to the challenge. The Dragons were then given a penalty in the 35th minute while inside the Tigers half and they went deep on the attack, a forward pass saw their raid come to an end. A forward pass from Benji Marshall saw the Tigers give the Dragons another great attacking opportunity close to halftime. The Dragons didn’t waste their opportunity as they caught the Tigers short on their right edge defence after Blake Ayshford rushed out of the line and missed Hornby who put Stanley in out wide. Soward again made no mistake with the sideline conversion to give the Dragons a 14-4 halftime lead.

Mistakes inside their own half had been costly for the Tigers and they were again poor in the last tackle options, with the kicking game being ineffective once again. Best for the Tigers were Chris Heighington, Gareth Ellis and Robbie Farah. For the Tigers to win this match, it was simple: Improve the kick/chase and cut down on the errors inside their own half.

2nd half:
The Tigers received the ball and got away to a solid start from their first set. The Dragons were given an early penalty though after the Tigers had them pinned. Wade McKinnon did very well in getting the Tigers out of their own danger zone after the Tigers fielded a dangerous kick and the Tigers cut loose through Benji Marshall putting Chris Lawrence into open space and he did well to offload to Tuqiri who came in field and bumped off Soward to get the Tigers right back in the match. Marshall converted to bridge the gap to 14-10 after 44 minutes. Lote Tuqiri again did well to defuse a bomb in the 46th minute and from the next play Robbie Farah broke out of dummyhalf to put Wade McKinnon away again only for him to be upended in a dangerous tackle by Weyman. The tackle went on report and the Tigers were given a penalty and attacked inside the Dragons half. Ellis forced an offload under pressure and Geoff Daniela was unable to take it allowing the Dragons off the hook late in the tackle count.

The Dragons cut the Tigers open in the 49th minute as Jarrod Saffy went straight through Marshall. The Tigers scrambled well to tackle the Dragons on the last tackle. Dean Young broke the igers in the 51st minute and offloaded to Weyman who was desperately tackled from behind by Marshall. The Dragons crossed on the next play through Luke Priddis however in a big call the try was disallowed as Keith Galloway was ruled to be obstructed. The Tigers were given a penalty to help come away from their own line. Another poor kick from Marshall in the 54th minute saw the Dragons attack the Tigers inside their own half and they gave away another penalty 30 metres out which saw Soward step to take another shot at goal which he didn’t miss to extend the Dragons lead to 16-10.

A mid-field bomb from Marshall in the 58th minute saw both sides knock on but the Dragons ended up with the ball. The Dragons got ahead further as Brett Morris outleapt Beau Ryan and he offloaded to ben Creagh to score out wide. Soward again converted to extend the lead to 22-10 leaving the Tigers with a lot of work to do with 19 minutes remaining. The Dragons put their foot on the line in taking the kick from the re-start giving the ball back to the Tigers through a line drop-out. A Simon Dwyer offload was jumped on by the Dragons as the Tigers just looked at it though. A lost ball from Gareth Ellis from dummyhalf cruelled the Tigers as the Dragons markers failed to clear the ruck. The Dragons lost the ball on the next play though. Benji Marshall put in a well placed grubber kick in the 66th minute forcing a line drop out. Chris Lawrence made a strong run on the previous play.

The Tigers again came up with another repeat set as the Dragons were forced to take it dead on the last tackle. A missed intercept from Soward saw the Tigers get another 6 tackles close to the Dragons line. The Tigers were then given a penalty right in front of the posts late in the tackle count with the Dragons offside. Farah lost the ball trying to score from dummyhalf though and the Dragons came away unscathed. A lost ball from the Dragons in the 73rd minute brought relief for the Tigers as they were being bent back, they were also running out of time. A touch finder from Soward in the 75th minute wound down the clock even further. Jamie Soward then put the Tigers to sleep as he stepped several players on a solo run to the line. He added the extras to give the Dragons a 28-10 lead. The Dragons then cut the Tigers right edge defence to shreds as Darious Boyd broke through to put Brett Morris away. Soward converted to give the Dragons a comfortable 34-10 win in a game where they always looked comfortable.

Onto the players (stats subject to change):

1. Wade McKinnon - Very good game tonight and probably the Tigers best in only his second game for the club. Very safe at the back and made a couple of good breaks. His positioning was good and he also got into dummyhalf a bit. Quick off the mark but can't hold his speed over longer distances as was found in the first half, but that's just nit-picking. Very good game overall. Ran for a huge 247 metres, 2 linebreaks, 9 tackle breaks, 4 tackles. 8/10.

2. Lote Tuqiri - Much improved game from last week, very safe at the back in defusing several bombs and also attacked well tonight, scoring a very good try and making a couple of half breaks. Still came up with a couple of errors such as being tackled into touch but overall he was good. 161 metres in attack, 1 linebreak, 1 linebreak assist, 8 tackle breaks, 2 offloads, 3 errors. 7/10.

18. Geoff Daniela - Have to say it was probably an unhappy game for Daniela, his hands let him down with a couple of dropped balls and he was well marked in attack, and he was crunched late in the game by Matt Prior. His defence was ok but poor handling and limited opportunities in attack let him down. 59 metres in attack, 13 tackles, 3 missed tackles, 2 errors. 4/10.

4. Chris Lawrence - Very good game from Rowdy tonight and gave himself every chance of being selected for NSW by scoring a good try and making some strong runs. Also had no dramas in defence. 145 metres in attack, 1 try, 2 linebreaks, 2 linebreak assists, 4 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 13 tackles. 8/10.

5. Beau Ryan - Quiet tonight with most of the kicks directed to Tuqiri's wing. When the ball did come to Ryan he was generally safe but was outleapt by Morris in the Ben Creagh try. He wasn't really bad, just pretty quiet. 53 metres in attack, 1 offload, 8 tackles, 1 error. 4/10.

3. Blake Ayshford - He tried hard tonight but you could see the difference in the Tigers attacking fluency due to the reshuffle with Benji and Blake playing closer in the halves. Didn't really look threatening in attack and his defence was generally fine. 76 metres in attack, 15 tackles, 3 missed tackles. 5/10.

6. Benji Marshall - One his worst games this season with plenty of mistakes made, simple ones too such as forward passes and poor kicks and bad misses in defence, including a couple of shockers on Darius Boyd and Jarrod Saffy. He won't be happy with himself based on tonight's performance. Again it showed he it showed he isn't suited playing too close to the ruck. 44 metres in attack, 3 offloads, 6 tackles, 5 missed tackles, 2 errors. 3/10.

8. Bryce Gibbs - Better game from Bryce tonight as he made more of an inroad in attack and defended well. One of the Tigers best forwards tonight. 117 metres in attack, 35 tackles, 3 missed tackles, 2 offloads. 7/10.

9. Robbie Farah - Pretty good game from Robbie tonight which was only let down by a poor mistake in trying to score from dummyhalf. Defensively he was busy and his running game was ok too. Kicking game was the best of all the Tigers kickers tonight. 51 metres in attack, 35 tackles, 4 missed tackles, 2 offload, 2 errors. 7/10.

10. Keith Galloway - Better tonight but still down on match fitness and missed a few tackles. Also attracted plenty of Dragons defenders but his go forward was improved from last week. Won't be selected for NSW but hopefully he'll be better again next week against the Broncos. 108 metres in attack, 18 tackles, 8 missed tackles, 1 offload. 6/10.

11. Todd Payten - Solid game from Payten tonight only let down by him being pushed into touch late in the game. Hard to be too critical of him though as he defended very well, had a decent night with the ball in hand and held his own against the Dragons pack. 95 metres in attack, 37 tackles, 1 missed tackle, 2 errors. 6/10.

12. Gareth Ellis - A bit quiet tonight I thought, not as prominent in attack although busy in defence. Not a bad game but a bit down on his recent efforts. 84 metres in attack, 2 offloads, 33 tackles, 5 missed tackles. 6/10.

13. Chris Heighington - Again good tonight and one of the Tigers best. Had a very strong first half but a bit quieter in the second, although still one of the Tigers better players. Gave himself a chance at being selected for NSW IMO. 129 metres in attack, 4 offloads, 20 tackles, 2 missed tackles, 1 error. 7/10.

14. Mark Flanagan - Busy in defence once again but I didn't notice him in attack to be honest. I reckon he'll have to be under pressure to make way for Fulton in the next week or so. Flanagan isn't bad, but he's just not having the impact I'd like to see from a backrower and his skill level doesn't look to be on the same level as Fulton. 27 metres in attack, 25 tackles, 2 missed tackles. 5/10.

15. Junior Moors - Looked alright tonight and was pretty busy with limited gametime. Went forward with the ball and defended well which is all you can ask for from a front rower. 64 metres in attack, 2 offloads, 16 tackles. 5/10.

16. Simon Dwyer - Only played the last 20 minutes and I'm not sure why as he went alright and got away a couple of offloads. Deserved more gametime as he looked to match himself fine with the Dragons forwards. 36 metres in attack, 2 offloads, 8 tackles, 4 missed tackles. 5/10.

17. Daniel Fitzhenry - Played the last 10 minutes and didn't do much unfortunately. Not bad but not long enough to have an impact or make a difference given the stage of the game he came on at. 19 metres in attack. 4/10.

Overall Team Analysis:


Like last week, it didn't really flow, there were a couple of promising moments, the highlights being McKinnon's break in the first half and the Lawrence and Tuqiri movement early in the second half. Farah was pretty sharp out of dummyhalf but Marshall was poor with the ball in hand on numerous occasions and Ayshford didn't really look threatening or creative which let the team down. Lawrence, McKinnon and Tuqiri were all dangerous out wide.

The forwards held their own with the Dragons pack but faded late in the game as the Dragons ran away with it. Galloway, Gibbs and Heighno all made over 100 metres in attack, Payten and Ellis were thereabouts too. Moors and Dwyer were ok off the bench but I think the forward pack missed Andrew Fifita for the extra impact he brings to the side.


It let the team down tonight unfortunately. A poor miss from Marshall saw Boyd score the Dragons first try, Ayshford rushing out of the line helped the Dragons score their second try, misses from Gibbs, Galloway and Ellis saw Soward weave his way through to score, and another miss on fulltime saw the Dragons score a long range try to blow the scoreline out, plus the Dragons made a couple of linebreaks through the middle of the Tigers. It was a disappointing way to end given the defence had been so strong in recent weeks with missed tackles hurting the team badly.

Kicking game:

The bane of the Wests Tigers once again. The long kicking game was poor. Farah came up with a couple of decent kicks, but that was not enough in the scheme of things. The short kicking game forced 3 line dropouts tonight which was good, but you could see the difference between the two teams kicking games, the Dragons were precise and efficient, the Tigers were ugly and poor overall.

Overall team stats (subject to change) (Dragons in brackets):

Try assists: 2 (3)
Offloads: 20 (9)
Linebreaks: 5 (7)
Linebreak assists: 4 (1)
Tackles made: 287 (305)
1 on 1 tackles: 29 (21)
Missed tackles: 45 (33)
Tackle breaks: 33 (45)
Total metres run: 1515 (1581)
Possession: 51% (49%)
Completion rate: 26/36 = 72% (29/37 = 78%)
Errors: 11 (8)
Penalties conceded: 5 (5)

What tonight showed was that the Tigers could not match the Dragons in the grind. The Tigers tried hard, the effort was there but they looked a bit flat at times and made some crucial errors inside their own half which gave the Dragons good field position and they didn't have to work as hard in attack as the Tigers did. Again, the completion rate was not great and certainly not good enough to beat the Dragons. Fluency and cohesion in attack also looked rusty for the most part with Marshall struggling to assert his authority at half and Ayshford not offering a great deal on the right side, which showed in Daniela's and Ryan's stats being poor.

While the Tigers were unable to match it with the Dragons tonight, they were far from their best. watching the Dragons play, they did the simple things very well but I can't help but feel they are too one-dimensional and I'm not entirely convinced they can go up another level when it comes to the finals. The match also showed how good the Dragons kicking game is compared to the Tigers, while the Tigers did force some line drop outs through some grubber kicks, the long kicking game is laughable compared to the Dragons. If the Tigers can work on completing their sets and improve their cohesion in attack, then they would have given the Dragons a fright. As it is, they know what they need to work on for next week.

Speaking of next week, the Tigers take on the Broncos. Brisbane will certainly be missing several players due to State of Origin commitments. The Tigers may be missing Robbie Farah, Chris Lawrence and Chris Heighington, but they will have to wait over the weekend to find out. While tonight's loss brought the Tigers back to earth, it was also a good test to see where they are at and what they need to work on if they are going to feature in the finals. Hopefully we'll see them bounce back next week.
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Post by izotope » Fri 25 Jun, 2010 11:08 pm

fair comments, payten gave away 3 penalties so should be graded down some more imo
also marshall he does not get over 1/10 for that effort, he was woeful

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Post by Brisbane Tiger » Sat 26 Jun, 2010 8:36 am

Always look forward to this thread, thanks willow...

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Post by boonboon » Sat 26 Jun, 2010 9:04 am

If the Tigers had a halfback out there tonight I think we would have got home the issue for me was the marshall being moved in and having Aysfor at 5/8 but I also think given the injuries it was our best option.

Kicking game continues to let us down

Also I think the dragons continue to get more leeway then any other team in the comp with a slightly shorter 10m and forward passes

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Post by krayola » Sat 26 Jun, 2010 10:16 am

And Sheens? he gets a 1/10 for only using two players off the bench. surely dwyer deserves more time. corey payne he is not, and he could certainly have helped the pack in the last 20 minutes of the first half where our poor half options put us under immense pressure.
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Post by tiger05 » Sat 26 Jun, 2010 10:39 am

boonboon wrote:If the Tigers had a halfback out there tonight I think we would have got home the issue for me was the marshall being moved in and having Aysfor at 5/8 but I also think given the injuries it was our best option.

Kicking game continues to let us down

Also I think the dragons continue to get more leeway then any other team in the comp with a slightly shorter 10m and forward passes
I noticed about 3 passes that looked forward and the only picked up was the one from Hornby. He complained about it - probably said it was no different to the previous 2 that were not picked up.

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Post by willow » Sat 26 Jun, 2010 11:21 am

Player and team stats updated. Both teams were pretty even with the missed tackles from the Tigers proving a big difference, particularly in terms of linebreaks as the Dragons only had 1 linebreak assist to the Tigers 4.

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Post by Cat&Fiddle » Sat 26 Jun, 2010 6:09 pm

34 to 10 translates as 5 tries and 7 goals over 2 tries and one goal.
I think that is food for thought

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Post by Paris Cobbs » Sat 26 Jun, 2010 8:24 pm

Thanks Willow, very realistic as usual. The upshot of our poor kicking on 5th tackle was that the Dragons started most sets of six on the 30-40 metre line, while we were starting ours on the 10. Benji even kicked on the 4th a few times, which only compounded the problem, because his kicks were so poor. How difficult is it to hit the grass with a kick? Our chase mostly lacked commitment, but that's partly because our kickers (unlike Soward) are unpredictable - the chasers don't know where the ball is going until it gets there.

St G's play is structured and predictable. Everyone in the team knows when Soward will bomb and when he will kick long, it all depends on where they are on the field on 5th tackle. They regularly throw forward passes at the ruck and walk off the mark when they are playing the ball. The referees allow this to go unchecked. I thought Kreagh was in front of the kicker (Soward) when he scored his try. I think your assessment that St G are eminently beatable is correct and will be seen in September, if not before. I just hope that we are the ones to beat them in September.

The assessment of Tigers' performance in this game has to take into account the fact that Moltzen and Lui were both unavailable (again). How many clubs could lose their two main half backs and still beat the competition leaders? I think that the 'solution' of playing Benji at 7 effectively and Ayshford at 6 was the best solution available. You have documented the problems that it caused in your report, but I would still stick with it for the game vs the Broncos.
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Post by smeghead » Sun 27 Jun, 2010 10:16 am

I wanted to watch it again to make sure I was right but now I can say that the reason Flanagan gets more time than Dwyer is because he is willing to roll up his sleeves in the middle third of the field and put in. Dwyer does not. He runs angles on the fringes and that is all he can do at this stage. When the team is on song or has the upper hand that is great. When we are against a real side like the Dragons he is pretty much bog useless.

His missed tackles last night were pretty bad. I think he missed 3 in a row without getting a hand to the runner at one stage.

At full strength Payten & Moors should be involved in a prop/backrow rotation and Dwyer would not be near the side for mine.

Benji's one on one misses were terrible too

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Post by Peaches » Sun 27 Jun, 2010 11:08 pm

Lui was really missed as Marshall struggelled without his half partner of late. The Dragons are the number 1 team and considering how poor we were in some areas, we competed very well. The forwards really nullified each other while the Dragons kicking game was way better than ours. Overall it was a perfomance that showed some promise. Need a win this week.

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