The Wests Tigers were outclassed last week. Again, the loss of our halfback left us a little lost in attack, but it was poor kicking options and lack of composure at crucial stages of the game that really killed us. It’s not as if the Tigers were perfect in recent wins against the Dogs and Raiders – far from it. But the Dragons seized on our weaknesses and made us pay.
It wasn’t a game we HAD to win and losses by the Titans and Manly meant we didn’t lose our position on the ladder. However, we have only managed to beat one of the current Top 8 teams so far and that was the last minute win against the Sea Eagles in the first round.
We have a chance to amend that stat when we take on the Broncos this Friday. There was a time in early April when Wests fans would have banked this game as a win. We were 4-1, they were 1-4 and we knew they would be without their Origin players for this game. Right now it’s far from cut-and-dried. We’re coming off a loss and continuing to struggle with injuries and they are on the rise and playing like a genuine Top 4 side.
The Blues loss is the Tiger’s gain as Farah and Heighno were overlooked by Origin selectors again. No doubt they’ll be fired up for this one. Brisbane will be without Lockyer, Thaiday and Folau but still boast one hell of a team. They are confident and well-drilled, combining solid experience (Parker, Wallace) with young, up-and-coming stars (Gillett, Norman).
Fitzhenry will be Sheen’s next experiment as stand-in halfback, and even though Flanagan and Ryan are missing we are still fielding a very competitive side. With Ayshford moving back into the centres, Daniela’s move to cover the vacant wing position should be seamless. Fulton’s return from injury is timely to cover Flanno’s absence, and Dwyer’s impact from the bench is always valuable.
Despite having the fourth best attack in the league, Parramatta did a good job of containing Brisbane last week. The Tiger’s defence has been patchy at times and will be exposed again if they drop intensity. In attack we need to take on Brisbane up the middle. Farah must dominate the ruck and provide quick, clean ball to our forwards to keep the Broncos on the backfoot. Marshall is most effective when he has time and space to direct his runners on the fringes and, with the exception of Fitzy and McKinnon, we have the pace in the backs to convert line breaks into points. Go Tigers!
Fortune Teller: Former Tiger Ben Te’o will score the first try and former Bronco Lote Tuqiri will score the final try. The Wests Tigers will prevail 18 – 16 in a thriller. You can bet on it!