Round 21: Tigers vs Sharks

The thing about “winning ugly” is it’s only supposed to be a stop-gap while a team rediscovers top form. After three tight and somewhat ugly wins in a row, the Wests Tigers failed to do this and got punished by a more determined Manly outfit. A wealth of possession early in the first half, an opponent player in the bin for 10mins and a favourable penalty count were disappointingly trumped by three crucial first-tackle turnovers and sloppy defence. Unfortunately the opportunity to go into outright second on the ladder was missed and the losing margin nullified our for/against differential bringing us closer to the crush of teams behind us fighting for the Top 8.

There are no easy games in the NRL. However, if you could hand-pick an opponent and venue to play yourself back into form the Cronulla Sharks at Leichhardt Oval would be top of the list. The Sharkies are looking a bit more dangerous under new Coach Flanagan and he’s shown faith by naming the same squad for this Saturday’s game. They get good go-forward from Snowden, Douglas and Gallen. And even though Barrett’s best days are well behind him, his attacking kicking game and organisation skills always create opportunities to score points. But Cronulla are missing a couple more strike players to take advantage of these opportunities and be threat for the full 80mins. If they get behind on the scoreboard they tend to struggle. Fullback Gardner is one of their younger players with plenty of promise so our kick-chase will need to be spot on. No doubt ex-Tigers Morris and Collis will get a vocal reception from the unforgiving home crowd.

For Wests, the announced team is the strongest and most skilful one Sheens can name – except of course for Moltzen. Lui should be better for last week’s hit out and Ellis, Ryan and McKinnon have been cleared to return which will give us a massive boost. Daniela also returns from injury taking the place of Fitzhenry on the bench, who no-one can deny was absolutely dreadful in the past two games. But it’s great to see Payten’s recent good form rewarded with a spot as starting prop allowing Ellis to join Fulton in the second row. Payten’s impact in defence and valuable yardage was one of the positives to shine through in last week’s loss. The only question mark in this week’s team would be Farah who needs to convince the medicos he’s clear of concussion following Matai’s reckless shot.

If the Tigers are a serious title contender this game won’t be a matter of if – but rather by how much – they win. There are absolutely no excuses. Full strength team, spiritual home ground, cellar-dweller opponent. Absolutely no excuses.

Fortune-Teller: Beau Ryan opens the scoring for the Tigers and they lead at half time. Liam Fulton catches every pass he’s thrown, Benji Marshall kicks the majority of this goal attempts and Lote Tuqiri scores the final try of the match to complete his first hat-trick for the black-orange-and-whites. Wests win 38-12. You can bet on it!

<^One-eyed Tiger^>

Another Tigers hero returns!

Im back folks!

I have had a couple of weeks on the sidelines, Editor in Briefs,  Tiger Brad gave me some time alone in the house of mirrors to have a good long look at myself.

Just before I plummeted from the blogosphere, I some would suggest I was in the for form of my career, people were snatching at my articles like Ashyford at Taumata, I had more hits than Ellis and I had spent so much time at the PC it was me with a boil on my bum not Cayless.

As I was yanked from the internet by the virtual shepherds hook wielded by the Editor in Briefs, I was in disbelief…. My career was on the line.  I needed a LARS.

BUT after knocking back offers from the Sharks (purely on principle) and being exonerated of all charges of attempting to black mail Alfie Langer with nude photos proving that not only was he able to put through a legendary grubber, he indeed owned a pants grub.
Latter I got an email – who was it? Editor in Brief Tiger Brad, or “TB” as he is know cause his Tigers passion is infectious – and he may be harmful to the elderly and small children. Back to topic – TB emailed, begging, yes folks begging for my literary genius to bless the brisbane wests tigers fans Website once more – here is the email;

Mate this is from One-eyed’s blog and I couldn’t agree more. Our superior fitness is starting to shine more and more.

One-eyed is making you look ordinary by the way. He writes a good blog…..

The fact that this team can chase down half time deficits and score back-to-back tries in quick succession late in the game shows what a fit and committed football team this is.”

OK so it isn’t exactly begging and really there is very little suggestion of desperation but I can read between the lines – TB, Editor in Briefs is suggesting that if I want to pack in to the second row next to our international star One–eyed im going to have to lift my game.

Quick Fact – Mckinnon signed until 2013 (This stuff is gold TB – like a try in the first 5 minutes, even though you told me!)

Back on topic….

So keeping my Friday night footy beers down to a sixer of mid to prep for this article, which I will add was difficult cause every NRL fan needs something heavier to watch the Dragons play they are so boring!  They are the Epidural of Rugby League, they will numb you for 2 hours, not last all the way and then leave you in excruciating pain  They are nauseating – sorry back on topic – I have been training hard and hopefully coming back off the bench with this stellar article, TB will return me to the starting side.

Q) What goes round, and round and round and can be stopped by a 6 year old girl?

A) Fitzhenry!

See TB – that is like a written chip over the defence and regather – you can’t train that sort of stuff mate! Exciting typing.

“Was that a flick joke in a Grand Final?” – Oh stop it!

OK – now to the serious stuff, the “grind” of my article so TB knows I am ready for semi final blogging.

I have been doing my research via the ladder predictor on nrl.com and the way I see it I think the Tigers can still sneak home with the minor premiership. Let me continue…..

The upcoming matches for the Dragons and Tigers

St George Upcoming Games Result Premiership Points Total Tigers Upcoming Games Result Premiership Points Total
V Titans (H) L 30 V Manly (A) W 28
V Broncos (A) L 30 V Sharks (H) W 30
V Roosters

(A)

L 30 V Bunnies (A) W 32
V Manly

(H)

L 30 V Penrith (H) L 32
V Canberra

(A)

W 32 V Parra (A) W 34
V Knights

(A)

W 34 V Storm (H) W 36
V Bunnies (H) L 34 V Titans (A) W 38

Many would suggest that this is an extremely biased view and this could only be proposed by a fool. This may be the case. BUT I will point out St George are know for their late season slips, their last 3 games they have only scored 8, 16, and 10 – are they stating to hit this slump already. St Georges opponents are starting to realize that if they play their natural game and they are a team with points in them then they will over run the Dragon’s at some point during the game, usually the last 15 to 20 minutes if they are still within 8 points at that time.

Lets look at the Tigers. Have been winning ugly, and the last few games have yielded 15, 16, 26 points. BUT the entire solar system knows that the Tigers have points in them, if you need clarification on this ask the Cows who saw 6 tries run in by the Tigers in 40 minutes of footy. There are a few tough games no doubt, the first being against Manly this weekend but TB’s favourite One Eyed predicts a Tigers victory so we will go with that. Then a few weeks later Tigers V Penrith is always a close game, and as my predictions come true you will see this as the game that cruels Penrith’s minor premiership aspirations. Parra always difficult but they are up against some quality teams in the next 3 weeks all in the same position as them (fighting for the second half of the eight) I believe this will provide a couple of injuries and it is difficult to “get up” for so many games in a row. Yes last year the Eels did have a great run in, however they only played a top 8 side every second week, this year they will have to beat a team above them on the ladder every week, a totally different task.

So…. You read it here first Tigers for minor premiers.

How is that for a scoop Editor in Briefs!! This article should be on the front page. Im giving myself 3 Dally M points and the Clive Churchill for another fantastic blog. If Hayne thinks it’s the “Hayne Plane” now I am the Flanno Rocket blasting back into the Blogosphere!

Please feel free to leave a comment below or on Facebook to show support to FlannoFan and ensure I get a jersey every week.

If anyone else is interested in packing down in the front row next to the star international recruit One-eyed, and writing an article occasionally, email the website and we can make it happen. Placing a post on our site is as simple as writing an email.

Be sure to tune in next Tuesday afternoon when the Editor in Briefs names his team for round 21!

<^FlannoFan^>

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Round 20: Tigers vs Sea Eagles

Another gutsy, never-say-die performance saw the Wests Tigers collect another 2 points and edge closer to securing a top 4 finish.  The second half comeback showed what this team can achieve when their backs are against the wall.  They aren’t playing well for the full 80 at the moment but still managing to do what it takes to keep the Ws ticking over.  The fact that this team can chase down half time deficits and score back-to-back tries in quick succession late in the game shows what a fit and committed football team this is.

The Tigers return to Sunday afternoon footy this week against the Sea Eagles in Gosford.  Manly have a good record against Wests over recent seasons, winning 5 straight games from 2006 to 2009.  In the two most recent matches the Tigers have managed narrow wins.  While this is the first match between these teams at Bluetongue Stadium, both teams have a perfect record playing at this ground (us: 3 from 3; them: 5 from 5), the most recent being Manly’s 36-12 win over Newcastle earlier this year.
 
Given the Cowboys game was played on Monday, the team named on Tuesday is naturally subject to change before kick-off.  Lui has been named at halfback again and must be good chance of finally running out.  Unfortunately Daniela is out and Ellis and Ryan are still doubtful.  
 
Manly have named the same team that dismantled Cronulla by 30 points last week.  They remain in the Top 8 but their form all year has been unconvincing.  Their last start result against a team that was out of finals contention, missing regular halves and with a coach already on the outer was not surprising. 

One of Manly’s biggest downfalls this year has been a habit of losing the second half.  This started in Round 1 when the Tigers fought back from 22-4 down to score 22 unanswered second half points.  Even the Sharkies beat them 18-12 in the second half last week.  Coupled with the fact that Manly are the most penalised team in the comp, Wests should have every opportunity to continue their winning streak. 
 
The Sea Eagles are a dangerous side on their day with a fair splattering of international and state representative players.  Of particular interest this Sunday will be the match-up between back row workhorses Heighington and Watmough.  Both players are in great form and capable of getting offloads away or making line breaks themselves.  Likewise, the battle around the ruck between Farah and Ballin and on West’s left flank between Lawrence and Lyon will make for entertaining viewing.
 
Fortune Teller: Manly open the scoring via Steve Matai and take a narrow lead into half time.  The Tigers run down the home side in the second half with Wade McKinnon scoring the last try of the game, his first for the club.  Wests win by 8. You can bet on it!

<^One-eyed Tiger^>

Five Star Special: Making the grade

Wade McKinnon: Absolutely fearless at the back and always puts his body on the line. Made a great sliding save to clean up a dangerous grubber kick when the Cowboys were hot on the attack. Has clearly lost a yard or two of pace, but McKinnon's support play is second to none. He's finding his feet at the Tigers and knows who to follow in attack. It's only a matter of time until he crosses the line by working off the likes Payten, Fulton and Gibbs.
 
Blake Ayshford: Didn't seem the slightest bit interested in playing footy on Monday night and it showed with a disgraceful performance. Blake's disturbing lack of speed was there for all to see when he was put into space early in the first half. He was found out badly in defence by former Tiger Arana Taumata, and Cowboys fullback Matt Bowen made him look ordinary by waltzing past him after a clearing kick put North Queensland under all sorts of pressure.
 
Liam Fulton: Arguably his best game for the joint venture club. Maybe it's the haircut, but Liam looks to have finally bulked up a bit. He runs great lines and tore the Cowboys apart in the second half. Showed good speed and nice footwork to score the go ahead try, and put Benji away with great hands and control. Fulton makes plenty of tackles around the middle of the park and does a lot of the clean up work that often goes unnoticed.
 
Benji Marshall: Where do you start with Benji boy. His wayward right boot kept the Tigers out of the game until a trademark chip and chase put Lote away for a brilliant try. Missed a field goal from point blank range after hitting a 51m monster against the Titans, put Fulton through a gap to score and finally kicked a goal before racing away to seal the deal…and miss another easy goal. He's either brutal or brilliant, but I wouldn't swap him for any other player in the NRL.
 
Daniel Fitzhenry: I got an sms during the first half that summed it up "Fitzy is not a first grade player". Now I've defended the bloke in recent months but it's hard to argue with that assessment based on Monday night's performance. Fitzy had a dead set shocker in every aspect of the game. He dropped a bomb, looked lost in attack and ran around in circles from dummy half. The beauty about the Fitzmeister is, he will probably have a blinder on Sunday. Stay tuned!
 
<^TigerBrad^>
 

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Round 19: Tigers vs Cowboys

The Wests Tigers demonstrated their finals credentials last week with a good, solid win over the Titans.  Even though the winning margin was half what it was the previous week against the Broncos, the quality of the performance was better than double.
 
The Tigers will shoot for a hat-trick of wins against Queensland opponents when they take on the Cowboys at Leichhardt this Monday.  Fans will mostly remember the Cowboys game earlier this year as Timmy Moltzen’s last 15mins of the 2010 season.  Following that win, Wests suffered four losses on the trot as they struggled to cover the halfback position with Lui also out.  But since that time, the Tigers have recorded six wins from the last seven games – and with Lui returning from yet another injury this week – will be full of confidence for this Rivalry Round clash.
 
Unfortunately Ellis, Ryan and Fifita are unavailable this week.  But no doubt the biggest talking point of the announced team was the inclusion of veteran Skandalis on an extended bench.  It’s almost like Tim Sheens lies awake at night thinking of new ways to mess with fan’s minds.  It will be interesting to see if Skando makes the final cut and how much game time he actually gets.  I have no doubt he’ll give his all if called upon, but this selection certainly came from the vacant land adjacent to the car park behind left field.
 
Despite the talent in their team, the Cowboys are playing very poorly.  Their forwards are allowing easy metres up the middle, which bodes well for Farah, Galloway and Heighington.  O’Donnell will again be fired-up for this game but as we saw in the Round 5 game and again in Origin 2 his ill-discipline can often back-fire for his team. 
 
North Queensland are typically slow starters but once they get going Thurston, Tonga and Bowen are more than capable of racking up points.  It’s important for Wests Tigers to make a strong start, establish a good lead and play for field position.  If they can play disciplined, positive football and starve the Cowboys of ball, this will be a comfortable win in the build-up to the finals.
 
Fortune-Teller: Daniela will score the first try and Wests will lead at half time.   Thurston will score the final try but the home team register an impressive 30-18 win.
 
<^One-eyed Tiger^>

Round 18: Tigers vs Titans

It’s not Robbie Farah.  It’s not Benji Marshall.  It’s not Chris Heighington.  It’s not Lote Tuqiri.  You may not have guessed it at the beginning of the season, but the man who holds the key to the Wests Tigers 2010 premiership hopes seems to be a young lad named Rob Lui.  Without him (and Tim Moltzen) the Tigers lack organisation and confidence in attack. 

Last Friday night’s win was a lucky escape against the Broncos.  We were beaten in most statistical categories – except of course the one that counts at full time.  Apart from those two vital competition points, the Wests Tigers can take pride in their scrambling defence and never-say-die attitude.  But the completion rate and kick-chase were poor.  We know they can play much better than that, and they’ll get a chance to show that this Friday night in front of a vocal home crowd when they take on the Titans.

Our main man Lui is named in the side and hopefully is fully fit.  On the downside, Ellis is out for two weeks and Ryan is still a week away from returning.  For the visitors, their halfback Prince has also been named in the starting side after three weeks off with a strained hamstring.  Barring injury or suspension they also have two players, Harrison and Bird, backing up from Origin.
 
This is the first of two games we play against the Titans in the final nine weeks of the regular season.  At the moment, this is #3 vs #4 so the result of this game will go a fair way to securing a home final.

Games featuring Prince against Marshall are always a great spectacles and both sets of forwards pack plenty of power and skill.  This will be another nail-biter – kick back and enjoy!
 
Fortune Teller: Mark Minichiello will score the first try of the game and scores will be locked at half-time.  Liam Fulton will score the last try.  The Tigers solidify their claims for the 2010 title with a hard fought 26-20 victory.

<^One-eyed Tiger^>

Five Star Special: Winning ways

When the Tigers won the 2005 premiership many ‘experts’ claimed they didn’t deserve it. When the Tigers failed to make the finals in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 those very same experts said the Tigers underachieved. Fast forward to 2010 when the Tigers are finally winning games they’re supposed to win and the experts have gone full circle. Now the Tigers are pretenders again. Talk about a no win situation.
 
The boys are winning ugly and holding on to third place. Surely that’s better than winning big, losing big and missing the semis like we’re used to. A look at the past few rounds shows the Tigers struggled to put away the lowly Bulldogs and Raiders and got out of jail against the Broncos. In between they pushed the Dragons for 75 minutes and could have jagged another win if it wasn’t for some poor handling.
 
In the past the Tigers would have fumbled their way to losses against the Bulldogs, Raiders and Broncos and the experts would have labelled them soft. The fact they ground out some pretty gutsy wins says a lot about the changing culture at the club and shows Steve Folkes is slowly but surely putting his stamp on the place. If you don’t believe me check the stats. The Tigers have one of the best defensive records in the comp. 
 
At the end of the day, a win is a win and the two competition points are all that matter. The Tigers are getting the two points more often than not and while the run home hasn’t done the boys any favours, it will prepare them for what should be their second finals campaign. With any luck the injury curse has passed and the Tigers will return to full strength – minus Moltzen – in coming weeks.
 
<^TigerBrad^>
 
 

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The Night Of Nights

Rio, New York, Vegas or London had nothing on the celebrations occurring on Caxton St on Friday night.

Before the games Tigers fans were jubilant, and you could feel in the air, that something big was going to happen that night, a certain electricity that you can feel that comes only with high expectation and a feeling of certainty.

Hotel LA was the epicentre for pre games celebrations and deliberations, there was talk of the first try scorer, Tigers winning margins and a host of other betting angles coming from the TAB.  Across the bar, Tigers fans were patting each other on the back, like long lost friends however most had only known each other for the duration of a pint.

Walking down Caxton St before game time, the Broncos fans knew they we in trouble, used to being the traditional “owners” of Caxton St the Broncos fans were vastly out numbered, out enthused, and many were brooding – knowing even before kick the Tigers fans were going to be the difference that night.

The away supports bay at Suncorp quickly filled with orange, the Tigers fans spilling into the adjoining bays and bars within Suncorp Stadium.

When the Tigers hit the field, pandemonium hit the grandstands and for the rest of the 80 minutes the chanting, singing and support was continuous.  Of note was the crazy supporter who sacrificed his hands for a pair of much loved Tigers oven mitts that his mum gave him for Christmas.

After the game celebrations continued until the wee hours up at Hotel LA once more.

It was great to catch up with Bj from the QLD Wests Tigers Fanatics.  Bj is putting together the plans for the Titans match, we look forward to working with Bj and his team to ensure a massive night down at Skilled Stadium in a few weeks.  Be sure to JOIN US and make sure your kept up to date with all the latest.

Finally a big thank you to all the Tigers Fans for getting out to Suncorp in the rain and showing the Broncos that we will never be silent, and we will no longer cheer alone!