Round 22: Willow's match report

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Round 22: Willow's match report

Post by Discussion Bot » Mon 09 Aug, 2010 12:19 pm

Round 22 of the Telstra NRL premiership saw the Wests Tigers travel to Homebush to take on South Sydney in a match where they sought to seek revenge from a humiliating defeat at the SCG earlier this season. The Tigers chances were helped during the week with South Sydney star enforcer Sam Burgess ruled out through suspension, while both sides suffered numerous late withdrawals through injury. Souths lost Ben Lowe, Beau Champion and Colin Best while the Tigers lost Todd Payten, Wade McKinnon and Geoff Daniela. Mark Flanagan, Mitch Brown and Sam Latu making his first grade debut for the Tigers were all brought into the side.

1st half:
The Tigers were gifted with a perfect start as Chris Sandow kicked out on the full giving the Tigers a penalty on halfway. The Tigers didn’t waste any time in working the ball close to Souths tryline and they promptly opened the scoring in the 2nd minute through Blake Ayshford after some simple decoy running opened up a hole for Ayshford to slice through. Marshall missed the conversion from wide out. It proved to be a very scrappy opening to the game though as both sides fumbled the ball and gave away cheap penalties. The Tigers also lost Keith Galloway early on to concussion as he was driven back and back slammed hard in a tackle which really rattled him.

Souths were next to hit back though as they enjoyed some good field position deep inside Tigers territory. It was simple and soft try with Robert Lui arm grabbing Souths debutant Dylan Farrell from 10 metres out and just not committing himself in the tackle. Farrell crashed over in the corner and Sandow converted from the sideline to give Souths a 6-4 lead after 14 minutes. The game eventually started to settle down and it was the Tigers who looked the better when it did, they eventually regained the lead in the 24th minute as Robbie Farah scored an easy try from dummyhalf. Marshall was on target to give the Tigers a 10-6 lead. Keith Galloway also did well to return to the field around this time.

The Tigers attack now started to look a bit more fluent and they looked dangerous on the edges of the ruck with Galloway and Ellis making good metres and Heighington also looking strong. The Tigers extended their lead in the 34th minute as Lote Tuqiri copied Robbie Farah and crashed his way over from dummyhalf. Again Marshall was on target and the Tigers went to halftime with a 16-6 lead. Best players for the Tigers in the first half were Chris Heighington, Benji Marshall, Robbie Farah and Gareth Ellis. Sam Latu also had some good touches from the wing.

2nd half:
After getting the best possible start to the game, the Tigers had the worst possible start to the second half, with Souths attempting a 40/20 on the first set. Beau Ryan realised what was happening and desperately attempted to bat the ball back infield however he had no support and batted the ball straight into the in-goal for Souths to score the easiest try of the year. Sandow was again accurate and the Tigers lead was now 16-12. The Tigers didn’t waste any time in hitting back though as Rob Lui pounced on a poor Souths pass to put the Tigers right on the attack. Chris Lawrence extended the Tigers lead as he crossed through some thin defence and Marshall again added the extras to put the Tigers out to 22-12 after 44 minutes.

The Tigers made it back-to-back tries in the 49th minute as big Keith Galloway scored after Souths failed to defuse a Tigers kick, the ball bounced backwards from Marshall and came off Galloway’s leg for him to ground the ball under the posts. Marshall again converted to make the scoreline 28-12. Souths refused to give in though, and they hit back soon after with another soft try to Farrell after Tuqiri looked a bit lazy in trying to regather a cross field chip kick. Sandow converted to make the score 28-18 with over 20 minutes remaining. Benji Marshall added a penalty goal in the 60th minute after Chris Lawrence was hit high in a massive hit by Nathan Merritt. Merritt was placed on report while Lawrence was assisted from the field. Mitch Brown then entered the game.

5 minutes later and Souths were in again for an easy try to Rhys Wesser. It came off the back of a Tigers mistake with Lote Tuqiri knocking on 5 metres out from the Tigers line. Sandow kept his perfect record intact and narrowed the gap to 30-24. The Tigers had a try to Mitch Brown disallowed as he failed to ground a Benji Marshall grubber cleanly which could have sealed victory for the Tigers. Souths continued to lift while the Tigers were fading fast and dropping off tackles. Benji Marshall also attempted a field goal but it was wide of the posts. Beau Ryan who continued to have a poor night slipped over in attempting to field a Souths kick, allowing the ball to bounce in the Tigers in-goal where they forced it. From the line drop out John Sutton was able to carry Benji Marshall and Blake Ayshford across the line out wide and again Sandow didn’t look like missing the conversion to level the scores at 30-30 which it remained until fulltime.

Golden point:
Both sides played mistake free football as they desperately tried to work the ball into field goal territory. Both Marshall and Sandow traded field goal attempts for the first 5 minutes as neither side cracked. Unfortunately Beau Ryan’s night went from terrible to possibly endangered as he stripped the ball from Souths in a 2 man tackle, giving away a penalty in the 89th minute. Souths were able to work the ball inside the Tigers half where Sandow had one final field goal shot. Bryce Gibbs did well to charge the ball down but Souths regathered, and with 5 seconds left on the clock, Wesser broke through some tired Tigers defenders to streak away before the ball eventually ended up with Farrell who scored a hattrick on debut to crush the Tigers at the death.

It was a very hollow feeling for Tigers supporters and the team did not treat Souths with the respect they deserved and paid the ultimate price in the end.

Onto the players:

5. Beau Ryan – Had his worst game in Tigers colours tonight, simply just about everything he did turned to gold for South Sydney. Dropped a bomb early in the first half which led to Souths first try, batted the ball back in the in-goal from a 40/20 attempt with no support for Souths to score, and it culminated in him stripping the ball from Souths in golden point giving them a penalty to attck inside the Tigers half. Does not deserve a spot in the side based on his performance tonight. 115 metres in attack, 1 try assist, 1 offload, 5 tackle breaks, 2 errors. 1/10

2. Lote Tuqiri – Not one of his better games tonight overall as he came up with a crucial fumble. Came up with some strong runs and scored yet another try, but looked a bit lazy in defence at times and his hands have not been as safe as they could be. As one the experienced players in the Tigers side, he needs to lift at this stage of the season. 101 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 linebreak, 6 tackle breaks, 2 offloads, 1 error. 5/10

3. Blake Ayshford – Better game from Blake tonight as he scored the Tigers opening try and was generally safe all night. Defensively he was better although hardly saw any ball in the second half. 64 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 linebreak, 1 offload, 20 tackles, 2 missed tackles. 6.5/10

4. Chris Lawrence – Was having a decent game until early in the second half when he was hit high and forced from the field. Hopefully he’s ok for next week, but he’ll be in some doubt from the look of it. 73 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 linebreak, 4 tackle breaks, 20 tackles, 3 missed tackles. 6.5/10

20. Sam Latu – Listed as fullback but played on the wing. Pretty good debut from Latu, ran the ball fairly well and fought hard in the tackles which was good to see. Unfortunately he was injured during the golden point stanza so I don’t know if we’ll see him next week. 95 metres in attack, 5 tackle breaks, 1 offload, 2 errors. 6.5/10

6. Benji Marshall – Not bad tonight, but it was a game where he really should have tried to stamp his authority a bit more. Did some good things in attack, making a couple of linebreaks and putting up some good bombs, but also undid some of this with too much sideways running and forcing players over the sideline as a result. Goalkicking improved a lot but not enough to get the Tigers home. 130 metres in attack, 2 linebreaks, 1 linebreak assist, 5 tackle breaks, 2 offloads, 8 tackles, 2 errors. 7/10

7. Rob Lui – Defence is his biggest problem with too much arm grabbing. That will only get him so far in first grade. I thought his passing game was good and he threatened the line a couple of times but needs to work on doing this more. Didn’t kick enough tonight either. 59 metres in attack, 4 tackle breaks, 17 tackles, 2 missed tackles. 5/10

17. Bryce Gibbs – had a poor start to the game I felt as he gave away a couple of penalties, but he settled down and made good metres and defended fairly well. Solid effort. 119 metres in attack, 44 tackles, 3 missed tackles. 7/10

9. Robbie Farah – Pretty good game from Farah, had a good battle with Isaac Luke. Made plenty of metres from dummyhalf and looked creative for most of the night. Hard to fault him as he tried his guts out and was one of the Tigers best. 93 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 linebreak, 2 try assists, 2 offloads, 9 tackle breaks, 37 tackles. 8/10

10. Keith Galloway – Had a soft opening to the game and was concussed early on in a soft hit up but it fired him up because he came back on 20 minutes later and was very solid for the rest of the night. Ran hard and made plenty of metres and defended well. One of the Tigers better players. 169 metres in attack, 4 offloads, 31 tackles, 1 error. 8/10

11. Liam Fulton – Not as prominent in attack, but defended very well as usual and tried to spark the Tigers on the right edge in attack. 56 metres in attack, 2 offloads, 32 tackles. 6.5/10

12. Gareth Ellis – Very strong tonight and a tireless effort, making plenty of metres and tackles. Didn’t deserve to be on a losing team tonight as he gave it his all. 170 metres in attack, 46 tackles, 2 missed tackles. 8/10

13. Chris Heighington – Also strong again tonight and deserved a victory. Ran hard, broke plenty of tackles and defended well. 96 metres in attack, 8 tackles breaks, 42 tackles. 7.5/10

14. Andrew Fifita – Didn’t play big minutes tonight, but made an impact and went well all things considered. Came up with a couple of strong runs while his defence was improved over recent efforts. 103 metres in attack, 3 tackle breaks, 14 tackles. 6.5/10

16. Simon Dwyer – Came on early to replace Galloway but then wasn’t sighted again until late in the second half. Sheens has used him as a prop the last couple of weeks, and it has hurt his game, he’s not that type of player and needs to be used on the edges where he can look to offload. 30 metres in attack, 21 tackles, 1 error. 5/10

18. Mark Flanagan – Came on late in the second half and had no impact.

19. Mitch Brown – Came on in the second half to replace Lawrence and played right centre. Went ok and almost scored a try, if only he grounded the ball cleanly we’d be talking about another ugly Tigers victory. 22 metres in attack, 4 tackles. 5/10

Overall team analysis:

Looked good on some occasions, on others the Tigers looked completely clueless and directionless. There was good go forward from the forwards tonight but some poor options and execution cost the Tigers. Ayshford and Lawrence looked good in the first half while Tuqiri and Latu had some strong runs. Benji looked set to tear the game wide open on a couple of occasions but couldn’t quite do it, while Farah was dangerous out of dummyhalf on the back of good go forward from Galloway, Ellis, Gibbs, Heighno and Fifita. They had enough firepower to win this game but couldn’t.

This is what killed the Tigers tonight. All of the tries scored from both sides were incredibly soft. The Tigers defence had no sting to it and the team tired badly in the second half as Souths stood in tackles and got away plenty of offloads. The fans are filty about it and no doubt Sheens would be too. The Tigers need to take a good look at themselves and fix their attitude, it was clearly missing tonight and they lacked pride in their defence.

Kicking game:
Not bad, Benji has learnt to put up dangerous bombs and they made Souths work it out of their own end fairly well. What let them down were cheap penalties. The short kicking game was not used too often with 1 line drop out forced and one try to Mitch Brown disallowed.

Team stats (stats to be updated – Souths in brackets):

Try assists: 3 (3)
Offloads: 17 (11)
Linebreaks: 6 (4)
Linebreak assists: 3 (1)
Tackles made: 348 (329)
1 on 1 tackles: 14 (22)
Missed tackles: 29 (60)
Tackle breaks: 60 (29)
Total metres: 1495 (1393)
Possession: 51% (49%)
Completion rate: 31/42 = 74% (35/46 = 76%)
Errors: 13 (14)
Penalties conceded: 9 (9)

This was without doubt the most heart breaking and frustrating loss I have seen the Tigers come up with. They had no right to lose this game yet somehow did. The tries scored by both sides were very soft but with Souths missing 10 regular first grade players, the Tigers should have gone on with it at 28-12 in the second half. They seemed to lose their way when they lost Lawrence and I just had this terrible feeling Souths would even things up.

It doesn’t get any easier with the Tigers taking on bogey side Penrith next week at Campbelltown. They will be coming off a tough road trip to Canberra but well and truly have the wood on the Tigers and unless the Tigers can fix their defence up against the big Panthers pack, I fear they will be in for a tough afternoon. There were some good performers for the Tigers tonight, but the defensive attitude was poor and the team really needs to aim up with a tough run home and they are now out of the top 4.

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Post by tigeress » Mon 09 Aug, 2010 12:34 pm

Great report Willow, thank you ! I was dissapointed to see the Tigers lose this game. They had it won, your report gives some of the possible reasons why they couldn't go on with it. They will have to pick up their act this week or they will not deserve to be in the top 8. What has happened to their defence !

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