Tigers have 2005 look: Bellamy

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Tigers have 2005 look: Bellamy

Post by willow » Sun 29 Aug, 2010 9:37 am

Tigers have 2005 look: Bellamy
Stathi Paxinos
August 29, 2010

CRAIG Bellamy reckons this year has a familiar ring - an open competition set up for a team that plays a more expansive style of football than those around it to come through and claim the premiership - just like in 2005.

Melbourne Storm will this afternoon play one of those more free-wheeling teams in Wests Tigers and Bellamy yesterday had no doubt that the Tigers, who have not played in a finals series since winning the title five years ago, were the real deal.

Bellamy said the Tigers, led by the magical skills of Benji Marshall, had improved their defence this season and had shown a new steel that had allowed them to win close games that they would previously have dropped.

''They've got a bit of a look and a bit of a smell about them as they had in 2005,'' Bellamy said. ''I think it's that sort of competition where anything can happen. Most of the semi-finals and grand finals and big games are won by teams that really defend well and whatever but in 2005 the Tigers got on a real roll and they played a different style of footy to most of the others in the semis and it worked for them so I wouldn't be surprised if it happened again.''

With this being the second-last round of the season, Bellamy is, for the first time since 2005, not preparing to guide his team through the finals series, because of the Storm's salary-cap scandal, which resulted in it being stripped of two premierships and playing for no points this season.

He said table leader St George Illawarra remained the premiership favourite despite looking ''tired'' in its loss to Canberra, but he believed that the more expansive style of football shown by the Tigers and Sydney Roosters, who must overcome a form slump, could just take one of them to the title this year.

''If St George can find their best they deserve to be favourites but it just reminds me a bit of 2005 when a couple of teams like the [North Queensland] Cowboys and the Tigers, sides that had a bit more flair than the other teams and they got to the grand final … I might be wrong but it just seems that with the Roosters and the Tigers there, perhaps one of those sides might [win],'' Bellamy said.

Bellamy said table-topping St George Illawarra played a ''semi-final style'' of football but needed to find a spark that was missing against the Raiders.

''I think St George deserves to be favourites but there's been couple of signs over the last couple weeks that they're perhaps looking a bit tired,'' Bellamy said.

''I don't know what their mentality with their preparation is so they might be getting themselves ready for the semis because they are in a pretty good spot … they've got a semi-final style of footy, they've just got to find a few more points, I suppose.''

Bellamy said Canberra could be the team to surprise - and repeat the feat of Parramatta last season - if it managed to sneak into the top eight next weekend. ''I see a little bit of Parramatta in Canberra this year. They're coming home with a wet sail and playing really well but it is tough to do it from eighth,'' Bellamy said.

''It's a deadset knockout every week and they've had to work fairly hard to get into this position as well, but who knows - it's fairly open.''

Meanwhile, the Storm's preparation for today's game at Leichhardt Oval has been disrupted by a bout of gastro that has gone through the ranks. And five-eighth Brett Finch's cut hand, which needed 10 stitches, has not recovered and he will be replaced by either Luke Kelly, who took the No. 6 jersey in the previous round, or Gareth Widdop.

Forward Robbie Rochow has been placed on standby and the Storm will also have access to players from its NSW Cup squad who will also be playing in Sydney today.

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