Semi Final 3: Willow's Match Report

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Willow's player review and match stats

Post by willow » Sat 25 Sep, 2010 11:58 pm

Tonight's major preliminary final at ANZ Stadium between the Wests Tigers and St George Illawarra Dragons resulted in a heartbreaking 13-12 loss to the Tigers, which ended their season for 2010. In front of 71000 fans, the Tigers gave it everything they had, but some rough penalties and numerous goal line drop outs forced the Tigers to come up with roughly an extra 60 tackles, or 10 sets of 6 which ultimately took a lot of energy out of the Tigers. The lack of possession also meant the Tigers had very little good field position. It was a very brave performance all the same, and even right down to the final minute and with nothing left in the tank, once again the Tigers did not die wondering, throwing the dice in the dying seconds and making a break down the Dragons left edge defence only to kick the ball ahead when they still had enough time for another couple of tackles.

Without regurgitating the events of the first and second half, I'll jump into the player reviews and match stats (stats to be updated):

1. Mitch Brown - Led the hitups for the Tigers and got through a lot of work, he was also safe at the back once again and one of the Tigers better players tonight I thought. I know Wade McKinnon has been bought as a specialist fullback for next season, but Brown's form over the past 8 weeks or so has been impressive and he deserves to be a part of the top 17 in my opinion, even if that means taking Beau Ryan's wing spot for next season. 163 metres in attack, 1 line break, 1 line break assist, 1 try assist. 8.5/10.

2. Lote Tuqiri - Scored the Tigers opening try tonight but otherwise had limited opportunities in attack and was forced from the field late in the game with what looked to be a painful rib injury after copping the knees of Jeremey Smith in a tackle. Otherwise Tuqiri made a lot of hitups and was solid. It has certainly been a great 2010 season for him in his return to Rugby League. 109 metres in attack, 1 try, 1 line break, 2 offloads, 5 tackle breaks, 2 tackles, 3 missed tackles. 7.5/10.

3. Blake Ayshford - Had a good battle with Matt Cooper tonight and they both pretty much cancelled each other out from how I saw things. Neither player really got on top in attack and in defence Ayshford was very good. He certainly had a good end to the season after suffering a mid-season slump. Look for him to improve further next year. 87 metres in attack, 2 offloads, 25 tackles, 3 missed tackles, 1 error. 7.5/10.

4. Chris Lawrence - Had a tough battle up against Mark Gasnier and again, I thought he handled Gasnier well. Lawrence had very few opportunities in attack tonight which was a shame as it would have been brilliant to see him in full flight tonight. Alas it wasn't to be and hopefully 2011 will see Lawrence earn a centre spot in the NSW Origin side. 53 metres in attack, 2 offloads, 19 tackles, 1 error. 7/10.

5. Beau Ryan - A disappointing end to the season for Beau, after watching him for the past few weeks his form looked to have dropped, and tonight he was largely ineffective. As a winger he is not blessed with good speed unfortunately, nor is he big, and on most occasions tonight the Dragons drove him back in defence. Came up with one error early in the match, but was otherwise safe, but with Taniela Tuiaki set to return next season, plus the good form of Mitch Brown and Geofff Daniela, Beau will be under real pressure to hold his spot in my opinion. 61 metres in attack, 7 tackles. 4/10.

6. Benji Marshall - Unfortunately came up with two errors in the final 10 minutes, which is right when the Tigers didn't need to make mistakes. Benji was in no way responsible for the loss however but it wasn't his best game tonight, he did look dangerous in attack whenever the Tigers had deep backline plays set, but his defence did let him down as he rushed up a lot to put pressure on the outside Dragons backs. Almost pulled a rabbit out of the hat right at the end when he threw a 30 metre pass to send Galloway charging downfield but it just wasn't to be unfortunately. 58 metres in attack, kicked for 385 metres, 13 tackles, 6 missed tackles, 3 errors. 6/10.

7. Rob Lui - Outshone Benji tonight I thought, as he was also dangerous in attack, throwing some nice passes, but his defence looked stronger than Benji's tonight and he scored a nice try just before halftime to put the Tigers back in front. He has definitely improved a lot as the season has gone, and looked quite comfortable on the field throughout the finals series. A good off-season and plenty of work on his defence will do him wonders I feel and he's definitely a player to watch out for next season. 36 metres in attack, 1 try, kicked for 91 metres, 5 tackle breaks, 1 line break, 1 offload, 11 tackles, 4 missed tackles. 8.5/10.

17. Bryce Gibbs - Tough effort just to play tonight and I'm sure Bryce will be feeling the pain of the injuries he has carried over the past few weeks now that the Tigers season is over. Didn't really have much of an impact in attack tonight, but he did top the tackle count and that in itself is a huge feat given he didn't play the entire game. Can't fault his effort tonight. 48 metres in attack, 43 tackles. 7.5/10.

9. Robbie Farah - Good game from Farah but received no help from the referees whatsoever as he caught the Dragons marker defence out on several occasions but failed to receive a penalty for it. Busy in defence as usual but his kicking game was little quiet as Marshall did most of it tonight. 82 metres in attack, kicked for 138 metres, 38 tackles. 7/10.

10. Keith Galloway - Another good game from Galloway tonight and he was leading go forward player in the Tigers forward pack again tonight. He has definitely gotten back into top form over the past few weeks and hopefully he can stay injury free next season and make his NSW Origin debut, he's definitely good enough when he's in form. 139 metres in attack, 3 offloads, 24 tackles, 1 error. 8/10.

19. Andrew Fifita - Surprisingly started in the second row tonight and he had a couple of decent runs, but once again did not play huge minutes, but I thought he worked hard in defence which was good to see and he definitely held his own. Overall he has had a good season and the learning curve has no doubt been a steep one for the young giant, but his potential is obvious. What he needs next is a good off-season where I suspect he will get stronger, fitter and hopefully a little bit leaner which will allow him to play more minutes next season and have more of an impact. 44 metres in attack, 20 tackles with only 1 missed tackle. 6.5/10.

12. Gareth Ellis - Strong overall game from Ellis once again although it was hard for the Tigers forwards to really shine in attack given they had to do so much defence. There was no mistaking Ellis in defence though, he hit hard as usual and was effective. Hopefully he will have enough time to get over his back injury for the 4 Nations Rugby League tests coming up. 75 metres in attack, 1 offload, 35 tackles, 7 missed tackles. 7.5/10.

13. Chris Heighington - Decent game from Heighno apart from a dropped ball at the start of the second half, and a penalty he gave away in the first half. He was replaced late in the game, I'm not sure whether it was injury or fatigue but he gave it his all out there and was very busy in defence and worked hard in attack. 2010 was definitely a return to form for him after a disappointing 2009. Hopefully he can earn some representative honours in 2011. 77 metres in attack, 34 tackles, 1 error. 7/10.

14. Ben Murdoch-Masila - I like the look of this kid, he could really develop into a powerful and damaging player in the years ahead. Still eligible to play in the Toyota Cup next season, I think we'll see him in FG throughout 2011 depending on injuries. Not quite as big as Andrew Fifita, but powerfully built all the same, big Ben has good leg speed and will no doubt prove hard to stop on the edges further down the track. Needs off-season shoulder surgery but will hopefully he back bigger and better in 2011. 36 metres in attack, 8 tackles. 5.5/10

11. Liam Fulton - Started off the bench tonight and was his usual busy self in defence and while he tried hard in attack, it's hard for a lightweight backrower to play behind a beaten forward pack. Looked to hurt his ankle/knee late in the game but bravely battled on. Came up with a great offload for Lui to score. 56 metres in attack, 1 try assist, 1 offload, 31 tackles. 7/10.

15. Daniel Fitzhenry - Played the last 5 minutes. Not enough gametime to rate his performance.

16. Simon Dwyer - Good effort from Dwyer tonight and he looked strong in defence. Another player to keep an eye on as he runs good lines, is pretty fit and will only get better. Like the other young guns in Lui, Fifita and Murdoch-Masila, an off-season will be good for him and he should be a little bigger and stronger next year. 62 metres in attack, 23 tackles. 7/10.


The backline plays looked sharp when they were on. You definitely got the sense the Tigers looked the more dangerous of the two sides when the ball was spread. The Dragons to their credit scrambled very well and in the end both sides could only score twice, although having said that, the Dragons enjoyed far better field position than the Tigers did tonight. Had the Tigers had the field position and possession that the Dragons did, I have no doubt whatsoever that the result would have been in the Tigers favor.


I'll take my hat off to the Tigers tonight. They had a very good defensive plan against the Dragons and they really rushed up out of the line everytime the Dragons spread the ball. They were very effective in shutting Soward down but the risk they took with the umbrella defence was that if they missed a tackle out wide, the Dragons had an immediate overlap, which happened a couple of times, unfortunately on one occasion where the Dragons scored on the next play through Nightingale. It was the right ploy to use though and it was a credit to the Tigers defence that they had to make roughly an extra 60 tackles, yet still only had two tries scored against them.

Kicking game:

Benji found open space often than not but I thought the chase was disappointing at times as the Tigers looked tired and this allowed Darious Boyd to look dangerous. Given the Tigers lack of field position for the most part, the Tigers did not really attack with their kicks. There were a couple of attacking kicks, one grubber from Benji close to the Dragons line where he regathered but had no support, that needed to be finished off in order to beat a team like the Dragons. Again though, given the lack of possession and field position, the Tigers did what they could.

Overall team stats (To be updated and Dragons in brackets):

Try assists: 2 (2)
Offloads: 12 (5)
Linebreaks: 3 (6)
Linebreak assists: 3 (4)
Tackles made: 338 (291)
1 on 1 tackles: 20 (14)
Missed tackles: 38 (30)
Tackle breaks: 30 (38)
Total metres made: 1205 (1747)
Possession: 45% (55%)
Completion rate: 27/35 = 77% (32/40 = 80%)
Errors: 8 (9)
Penalties conceded: 5 (4)

The key stats of obvious note here is the possession, which is heavily in the Dragons favor, the total tackles made by the Tigers, and the total metres made by the Dragons as a result of the extra possession. To only go downby 1 point to the Minor Premiers under these circumstances is an excellent effort by the Tigers, if these stats were reversed, I'm sure the scoreline would have favored the Tigers. But it wasn't to be, and despite a very brave and gutsy effort tonight, season 2010 is now over for the Tigers.

Overall if someone had of told me at the start of the season that the Tigers would finish 3rd, I'd be happy, and I am, despite tonight's loss I know that the Tigers gave it their all. There were plenty of positives to come out of this season, but that's another topic in itself. This however is my final match report for 2010, so for everyone that took the time to read them, offered their opinion, gave their thanks, voiced their displeasure, thank you, I type these as a Wests Tigers supporter and in the hope that those who cannot attend the games or always see them, can get just a little bit out of it. In 6 months time I will be back here typing them again. :sign:
Photo courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald website
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Photo courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald website
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Photo courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald website
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Post by Eye Of Wests Tigers » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 1:08 am

Lui deserved more than 7.5 he was up there with Brown both outstanding tonight. YOu could tell we missed Payto up the middle with his defence and the ball playing at the line but thats life unfortunately

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Post by Michaelson » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 2:03 am

I was very surprised at how sparsely the forwards were used in attack. Only Galloway made good metres. It seemed to me our backs were doing way too much work trying to get the ball out of our own half.

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Post by Paris Cobbs » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 3:41 am

Thanks Willow. As one of the 'off-shore' brigade, I find your reports most valuable as well as being eminently sensible, even in the face of bitter defeat as today. A possession split of 44/56 is extraordinary in a game of this importance and closeness. I said earlier in the week that the refs were the 'x-factor' as they control the pace of the game and possession through penalties especially. We looked the better side, but ran out of energy and opportunities in the last 20 minutes. A penalty for Smith putting his knees into Lote's back might have been handy, but it also might have granted us a win from a penalty goal, so that was out.

All in all, proud to be a Tigers supporter.
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Post by Pokies » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 4:46 am

A few ratings i would change ie . Lui who i thought was alot better than 7.5. But as always Willow well done and really enjoy reading your post match analysis. Hope you continue this next year.

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Post by Poppa » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 6:31 am

Good report willow again.Sadly we are out of the GF,but to our credit,we have come through some tough games in the final series,and proved we are a hard team to beat,as acknowledged by the Saints players interviewed after the game.Still we achieved a lot more than I thought we would at season start,well done all.Our second half play let us down badly some poor play,had we played like the first half,we would be in the GF.Still its all history now.So until 2011

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Post by Tigerdave » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 6:51 am

As much as I love Beau's enthusiasm and his love of the Tigers, I can't see him being in the starting line up next year, he was hammered out there.

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Post by alexaki » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 7:40 am

Lote got it right...Beau Ryan is the clubs third best winger!..I hope he enjoyed the limelight in 2010...the state cup will be very different in 2011...why did he kick when we had 30secs left and it was only second tackle????

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Post by tiger05 » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 7:58 am

I thought Lote was our best tonight and deserved a higher score.

Farah imo was poor. He took numerous poor options and when we had them on the rack came up with an atrocious grubber. If Benji gets a 6 Robbie gets a 5.

We needed Farah and Benji to fire and they didn't.

Still it was a great season and all the players deserve a huge amount of credit for how they put in. Lets hope next season we get less injuries and get into top form.

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Post by mike » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 8:26 am

Thought Lui was MOM, deserves a higher score.
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Post by Peaches » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 12:01 pm

Michaelson wrote:I was very surprised at how sparsely the forwards were used in attack. Only Galloway made good metres. It seemed to me our backs were doing way too much work trying to get the ball out of our own half.
I think that fatigue has played a real part here. The Tigers were a tired and semi-fit team coming into this game and the whole finals series. The speed of line in defence takes a lot of energy out of you, and when you are coming into big games fatigued, it doesn't help. Using the backs like Lote, Beau and Brown would give the forwards a breather.

I think the use of the interchange has also contributed to the fatigue of the side. Pretty much only using 15 players, a handful of them carrying injuries; it all catches up on you in the end. The match last year against the Eels where Tuiaki and Ryan were lost has scared Sheens somewhat. On some occassions, the outside back was useful. But for the larger part of the year, I feel an impact player or worker could have lightened the load on the forwards who have played massive minutes and given massive minutes.

On topic, good report Willow. We gave all we could but didn't quite have enough in the end. We were just outside the best 2 in the regular season and the finals series. Heres hoping we can go a little further next year. I think a similar squad with the addition of Tuiaki on the wing will see a premiership come our way if the players are just as committed next year.

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Post by willow » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 12:12 pm

Player and team stats updated, along with Lui's rating. Bumped him up to 8.5, Galloway to an 8. Thanks for the comments people.

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Post by huntertiger » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 1:29 pm

Thanks Willow
For an out of towner, i cant get to the games, but watch them on tele. I aways wait for your match review for the comprehensive and rational view ( I let my emotions run away sometimes & forget to open the other eye). So thanks again for your time and look forward to reading more in 2011, when we will go that one more further and take out the GF.


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Post by westTAHger » Sun 26 Sep, 2010 1:33 pm

thanks willow for your efforts once again this season.
always a good read.
looking forward to next season, only alot of days to go.
Basil, our rescue dog, is wondering when wests tigers will win 25 - 18 :D

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Post by MightyMaggy » Mon 27 Sep, 2010 7:58 pm

Thanks Willow, once again. I have enjoyed reading your report and comments throughout the season. I find I am too emotional during the game, so I rely om your report and a review of the match later in the week to form a more rational opinion.
Best wishes for the break and I look forward to your inciteful comments again nest season.

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