Round 21: Sea Eagles vs Tigers

Preview:

Both Wests Tigers and Manly Sea Eagles bring winning form to Gosford this Friday. The Tigers were impressive and could have dominated Easts more on the score board had they capitalised on all their chances. Manly on the other hand did just enough, nothing more nothing less, to beat a determined but predictable Penrith. Manly’s defence was very solid last week, so Benji and the boys will have a challenging time finding ways to break that down.

The Sea Eagles have won 9 of their last 10 games and are flying high at second on the ladder. The Tigers are in seventh with a 9-9 record, one win and 48 for-against points behind the sixth place Warriors. All the teams below the Tigers have a negative points differential, which at the moment bodes well for our finals hopes. We are sitting on 18 points with +15 differential; Knights are one the same points but with a -5 differential. Panthers and Dogs are back on 16 points with -8 and -64 differential, respectively. To get in the Top 6 with a good chance of a second bite of the cherry, we will likely need to win two more games than the Warriors from our remaining six. At least one win over the next two weeks (Manly then St George) will go a long way to achieving that goal.

The Tigers have lost Tuqiri again due to injury, so Utai returns to the starting side. Sheens named an extended five-man bench featuring two backs. Although two backs on the bench worked against the Roosters (with Brown making only a very limited appearence late in the match), I think most fans agree that a player like Groat on the bench will add more value against the size and strength of Manly. Anthony Watmough and Michael Robertson return this week for the Sea Eagles, but Hasler will need to trim two players from their six-man bench before kick-off.

One thing that stood out to me last week was how good Wests were at driving through tackles after the initial impact and gaining an extra metre or so. Utai is the master of this, but it was noticeable that Fulton, Heighno, Gibbs and Galloway were also driving the defence backwards during the tackle. Our powerful left edge attack will be up against one of the stronger aspects of the Sea Eagles defence in Glenn Stewart and Jamie Lyon. On the other side of the field, Ayshford and Utai will face-off against Steve Matai. Against Penrith he was caught offside a few times, so look for quick dummy half runs down that edge, especially when coming out of our half.

The likes of the hard running backrowers Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart will demand plenty of attention from our defence. In the halves, Foran and Cherry-Evens have struck an impressive combination in their first season together, with Glenn Stewart chiming-in at pivot. The composure and confidence that Cherry-Evens plays with is quite remarkable for a rookie. But last week the Tigers defence did a great job of moving quickly off the line to shut down Pearce, Carney and their outside backs. That same tactic will be necessary to prevent the big Eagle backs from gaining momentum.

The Tigers have a reasonably good record at Bluetoungue Stadium and are showing good signs of improvement. They’ll need to take it up another notch to down Manly but they are more than capable. And there’s certainly no better way to start the weekend than beating Manly!

Fortune Teller:

FTS: Manly have compelling form as first try scorer, so Brett Stewart gets the nod this week.
HT/FT: Sea Eagles/Tigers
Margin: Tigers by 2.

Fantasy Bites:

There were some massive scores in Dreamteam this week, with 12 players scoring 55 or above and Parker leading the way with an impressive 82. As a result, the OneEyedTigers cracked the 900-barrier for the first time with a league-high 923 (the highest score overall was a record breaking 998). There are a few more high profile injuries to deal with this week, most notably Stagg, Coote and Gallen. Soward has the flu but is expected to suit up.

This week’s key matchups in the BWTF Printing Well Cup include: Horsehead Bookends (5th) vs 89Heros (3rd), FlannoFan (4th) vs OneEyedTigers (2nd) and mini tigers (6th) vs Frothing Donkeys (7th). No Chance and Mongrel Magpies are two points outside the Top 8 with two games to play in the regular season. Good luck everyone!

<^One Eyed Tiger^>

Limerick Competition

Here’s all the fantastic entries we have so far for the “Tribute to Tim Moltzen” or “An Ode To Beau” limerick comp. We are having a great time with this, we don’t want it to end. The draw will happen tomorrow night before the big game, and we will publish the winning limerick and author, right after the Manly match….if we can! Keep them rolling in!

Here’s a photo of the prize:

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The big question we keep getting asked is why do we run this blog, give away our merchandise and so much of our time. Well the obvious answer is we love the Tigers, which is true. But we also consider ourselves extremely lucky to have access to information and the opportunity to access the players at times to get things signed. We are not affiliated with the club, apart from memberships. We see rubgy league and our Tigers as a community and we are happy to be as inclusive as possible. Enough jabber, time for the limericks!

ODE TO ‘RAMBO RYAN’…

There once was a man named Beau
Who spent a bit of time on “The Show”
He says he a Tiger
We think he’s a liar
And so Tim Sheens had to let him go….

There once was a man named Rambo Ryan
Who all the ladies had their eye on
Although his face was quite pretty
His footy was a tad shitty
And so he & Chris were up for the buyin’…

There once was a man named Beau
Who spends time on “The Footy Show”
He wants to replace the Fat
What do we all think about that
I reckon he will give it a really good go !!

SHAR HATLEY

There was a young man called Fifita
Who could run the ball up like a cheetah
he couldnt lose weight
to the Sharks he went straight
and now he can eat plenty of pizza

Julia Lindsay

There once was a player named Tim
whom the tigers let go on a whim
moltzen was fast
could cut cross the grass
and pass to beau ryan for a win.

Jason Bundy Connolly

There is a BWTF admin named Pig
He travels to world cities small and big
A crazier fan, I’ve not met
Loves a drink and a bet
But playing prop for Wests Tigers is his dream gig.
(In fact I think Brad is the craziest fan i’ve met but I needed that line in your poem)

One Eyed!

The Tigers are in Town and ready to roar
Beau Ryan is there to show Manly the door
Tim Moltzen fires up with speed to burn
And gives Beau the ball so he can have a turn
The game is played tough with a lot of pace
But the Tigers stand up as there in the race
Only a minute to go and the score is 12 all
Manly put up a bomb to give the Tigers the Ball
Up went the ball down Tim Moltzens Throat
And off he went like a runaway Goat
He swerved to left and stepped to the right
Only to find Beau Ryan at full flight
Beau puts the finger up to give it to the host
As he dived over line right under the post
Hooter goes and the Tigers win
Followed by Beau Ryans cheeky Grin

David Setter

There once was a man named Beau Ryan

Whose play for the Tigers was tryin

He got smashed in the head

Looked like he was dead

And Big Bradley Hyde started cryin!

Tiger Brad

Beau shuts his eyes when he catches,

Timmy’s dropped balls cost matches.

But never the less,

In the team I love best.

We always play best in patches.

Gerome Ridge

An ‘ode to Beau Ryan’
There once was a man named Beau,
who’s ability continues to grow.
The speed of his play,
he turns up every day,
And to Penrith he will never go.
Beau Ryan plays with flair,
Allways the first on there.
He scores a try,
on the fly.
my idol will allways play fair.
Bradley James Hyde

Beau the young Tiger won me as a fan,

His career I would follow with beer and his old man.

I can’t stand the knockers,

Cause he really has more crackers than shockers.

But now he is my nemesis,

Cause his skin has no blemishes,

And my beautiful wife thinks he’s sexier than DAN!

TigerDan.

Its Heighington, first name is Chris,
A tackle he will never miss,
He’s a Trojan, a work horse,
Like a Jedi, he uses the force,
But Beau Ryan keeps taking the piss.


Cameron Wheatley.

Weekends out West: Just A Man

Chris Lawrence confirmed without a shadow of a doubt this week that he will one day captain the Wests Tigers. His performance against the Cowboys was outstanding when you consider it was his second game back from a devastating injury. His timing looked good, he hit hard in defence and made some telling runs when the Tigers were searching for inspiration. Lawrence is a leader in every sense of the word. He is already approaching 100 games for the club, and he’s only 22.
 
I was lucky enough to be among the thousands of Tigers fans when Lawrence made his debut against the Broncos in 2006. He showed a blistering turn of speed to score a brilliant try and help the Tigers secure a huge upset win with Brett Hodgson, Benji Marshall, Paul Whatuira, Bryce Gibbs and Liam Fulton watching from the sideline. Lawrence celebrated the win by making his way over to his family and embracing his mum, who by this stage was in tears. It was a telling moment.
 
Lawrence scores some of the best tries you will ever see. He monsters opposition centres in defence, something he struggled with in the early stages of his career, and does all the right things for club sponsors. Yet he remains one of the most grounded players in the entire NRL. You won’t see Chris Lawrence go out of his way to celebrate a try or pat himself on the back after a good read. The man they call Rowdy leads with his actions. That’s exactly what you want from a captain.
 
Numbers game: 8. The Tigers for and against heading into Round 20. Just ahead of the Panthers (-4) and much better than the Knights (-23), Sharks (-43), Rabbits (-62) and Dogs (-65).
 
Shout out: “Just to make it clear Simon has no plans of retiring” – a Tweet from Simon Dwyer’s dad in response to speculation the rising star will be forced to give the game away due to nerve damage.
 
<^TigerBrad^>

Round 20: Tigers vs Roosters

Preview:

The Wests Tigers put together a solid performance to down an injury-depleted Cowboys last week and roar back into finals contention. The Sydney Roosters let a winning lead slip with 5 to go in the match against Souths before being sunk by a 50m field goal in extra time to fall back into wooden spoon contention. After what happened in last year’s qualifying final, they’ll get absolutely no sympathy from us!

The big news for the Tigers this week is the long awaited return of wingers Tuqiri and Utai, as well as Mark Flanagan and Toddy Payten being named on an extended bench. With the exception of Dwyer and Ryan this is pretty much a full strength side, although Lote and Matt might be a stride or two short of full speed in their first game back.

The Roosters gain Jared Waerea-Hargreaves on the bench for this game and Anthony Minichiello has been named at fullback, but could be doubtful.

Easts got the better of Wests when they met back in Round 4. At that time of course we were in the middle of an injury crisis, so that result is not really relevant now. However, the Roosters are a definite bogey team for us over the last couple of seasons. The Tigers have also struggled against out of form teams throughout 2011, going down to the Titans, Bulldogs and Eels in games we really should have won. But hopefully the past is the past and the attitude improvement we witnessed last Saturday is a positive sign of things to come.

Typically the Roosters have dominated our forward pack, but given the form that Gibbs, Galloway and Woods showed last week against the Cows I think it will be more even this time around. Defensively our forwards have been very strong inside the 20m. On the Roosters side, Anasta has been relatively quiet this year, crossing only for two tries so far. Similarly, Carney has fallen from the Dally M heights he achieved last week and apart from a good showing against the Knights two weeks ago has been lacking impact. In fact, with the exception of half back (and possibly fullback if The Count is fully fit), I think the Tigers match-up pretty well in every position against the Roosters this week.

In the centres, as good as Ayshford and Lawrence are, their opposites Sam Perret and Shaun Kenny-Dowell will give us the most grief. SDK in particular is in dangerous form and is their best attacking weapon down the right side of the field, so Lawrence and Tuqiri will be busy in defence. He doesn’t miss many tackles either, averaging just over one miss per game.

The long kicking game will be a key aspect of the contest, with both teams boasting the highest accuracy in the league when it comes to finding open space (Tigers 69%; Roosters 60%). Pearce, Carney, Marshall, Lui and Farah are all capable of 40-20s as well.

After last week’s return to form, the Tigers showed they still have a good chance of making a dent in the finals this year. A vocal Leichhardt crowd on Saturday night giving it to the Eastern Suburb softies should help bring home another vital victory for the mighty Wests Tigers. I wish I could be there!

Fortune Teller:

FTS: I’m on Chris Lawrence. His confidence is back and with Tuqiri outside him I think Marshall and Lui will be directing attacking raids down that side of field early and often. This will also make SDK work a bit harder in defence and hopefully limit his energy when he has the ball.
HT/FT: Tigers/Tigers.
Margin: Forecast is for a wet one, so could be close. Tigers by 8.

Fantasy Bites:

Round 19 was a big week of injuries to a some gun fantasy playes and could shake-up a few teams around this week. Harrison and Crocker are gone for a couple of weeks, Ennis is gone for the year. Coaches should check the late mail today on players such as Gallen, Watmough and Mateo. Stagg has been relegated to the bench again and his days as a viable reserve in my Dreamteam are coming to an end.

Watch out Howling T’Wolves, the OneEyedTigers registered the top score again in Round 19 with 804. There are three games left in the regular season of the BWTF Printing Well Cup.

<^OneEyedTiger^>

Weekends out West: My Heart Will Go On

The Tigers rebuilding plan is taking shape and one thing is becoming increasingly clear, Tim Sheens is recruiting rugby league players with character. It’s a common theme in the US, where front offices recruit who they refer to as “character guys” or “locker room guys” to help stabilise their teams and take them to the next level. Character shouldn’t be mistaken for talent, see Todd Carney, but when the two coexist they can produce some truly great players, see Chris Lawrence. Character players don’t have to be stars. They don’t make headlines, they don’t promote silicon wristbands and they don’t make television appearances. Sure, they can be highly paid, but that’s professional sport.
 
The Tigers of 2005 had Ben Galea, John Skandalis, Todd Payten and Mark O’Neill who led from the front and did the dirty work when no one else was interested. That team had a mid-season slump much like this year’s squad, but that side was able to call on the likes of John Wilson, Ray Cashmere and Matt Jobson to help turn things around. Fast forward to 2011, and players who should be standing up simply aren’t. Bryce Gibbs is still giving away stupid penalties. Andrew Fifita is still running across field. Tim Moltzen is still…well Tim Moltzen isn’t really doing anything. Don’t let age or experience fool you, Aaron Woods has shown more leadership than these three players combined.
 
Enter Adam Blair, Joel Reddy and Matthew Bell, three astute signings with one thing in common – character. Blair is the Tigers newest Kiwi millionaire, and rightly so. His workrate worries me a little bit, but you can’t argue with the bloke’s resume. Reddy is a City-Country representative who will play plenty of first grade in 2012. The Tigers didn’t sign this guy for NSW Cup, he has too much talent to be languishing in lower grades. Bell is a brute of a man who has been playing in a Panthers pack headlined by Petero Civoniceva, Luke Lewis and Trent Waterhouse. He has a tremendous workrate and if recent statistics are anything to go by, he’s an automatic upgrade over Gibbs and Fifita.
 
These three signings combined with the steady heads of Lawrence, Blake Ayshford, Gareth Ellis and Keith Galloway will balance the flair of Benji Marshall, Robbie Farah and Lote Tuqiri and should make for a far more consistent footy team in 2012. Woods and Simon Dwyer will continue to find their feet, and some of the Toyota Cup boys are stars in the making. While the futures of Mitch Brown, Beau Ryan and Chris Heighington remain unclear, one thing is certain, Tim Sheens has weilded the axe. Mr Gibbs likened the club to a sinking ship on Facebook – the Titanic if you will. It’s a fitting analogy when you think about it. Dead wood floats, and this plank has washed up on Cronulla Beach.
 
Numbers game: 190cm and 106kg. Matthew Bell’s imposing frame.
 
Shout out: “There needs to be some serious soul searching, and it needs to happen sooner rather than later. There’s no more tomorrow. We can’t afford to continue to play like we are” – Balmain great Backdoor Benny Elias has some words of wisdom for the out of form Tigers.
 
<TigerBrad^>

Round 19: Cowboys vs Tigers

Preview:

The Wests Tigers face a tough test when they travel to Townsvile for the NRL Rivalry clash with the Cowboys. Despite losing their last three games and dropping out of the Top 8, the coach and captain are adamant that the season is not lost and that a return to form is imminent. The Cowboys are flying high in 4th position on the ladder, eight points clear of the Tigers.

Even without Thurston and losing Tonga early in the first half, North Queensland easily accounted for the in-form Knights in Newcastle on Monday. They have a short turnaround this week, but will be buoyed by the return of Brent Tate, Aaron Payne, Scott Bolton and Tariq Simms. Wests welcome back Liam Fulton for the injured Ben Murdoch-Masila, and Dragon-to-be Moltzen has been given the number 1 jersey at the expense of the dropped Wade McKinnon (yes, dropped!). Lote Tuqiri remains an outside chance of being a late inclusion.

The Tigers defensive efforts have been the most positive aspect of the last three games, but have only managed one try in each of those games. The Cowboys have had no trouble crossing the tryline, scoring 72 points in attack over their past three games. Matt Bowen is always dangerous when he takes on the line and James Segeyaro had his best game of the year last week. Tariq Simms will be well rested after his two week suspension and will be handful when he comes off the bench. With Origin prop Scott leading the way up the middle, Farah and Galloway will be in for a busy night. The Cowboys also boast two big centres on either side of the field and powerful wide-running backrowers, so communication and commitment in defence is mandatory. I’m looking at you Lui.

The Tigers have been guilty of too much sideways running of late. Straight runs and quick play-the-balls this time please boys. The points will follow if Marshall can run to the line and link up with Ellis and Lawrence with the short ball in the red-zone. I’ll also be looking for Moltzen to utilise his pace and chime-in off an inside pass or chasing a Farah or Marshall kick behind the line.

It’s been a big week off the field for the Wests Tigers with official announcements about next year’s plans coming thick and fast. The news has generally been well received by fans and you can sense that there is a buzz around the joint again. Let’s hope the feel good factor is reflected by a solid on-field performance and the Wests Tigers can get up and smash the Cowboys! Or kick the winning field-goal in extra time. I really don’t care which!

Fortune Teller:

FTS: As much as I’ve love to nominate a Tiger, Matt Bowen is a really good option here.
HT/FT: Cowboys/Tigers.
Margin: Tigers to storm home in the second half with a 1 or 2 point victory.

Fantasy Bites:

My OneEyedTigers took out top score in Round 18 of the BWTF Printing Well Cup with a total of 747. The match of the Round this week will be Horsehead Bookends (4th) taking on Howling T’Wolves (1st). Former front-runners of the league, the mini tigers, have fallen to 6th and face the 8th place No Chance.

With the rep season behind us, Dreamteam squads will be back to full strength. We have four weeks of the regular season left. Good luck!

<^One-Eyed Tiger^>

Weekends out West: Don’t Speak

The silence from Stephen Humphreys and Tim Sheens is deafening. And so it should be. The notion that the Tigers “owe” it to their fans to explain contract negotiations is absolutely ridiculous. We’re talking about a professional rugby league team and a multi-million dollar business, not a pub side funded by proceeds from chook raffles and $2.90 schooners. Humphreys is a highly respected businessman who conducts his business behind closed doors – not in the newspapers. Fans are frustrated, but it’s more about poor performances on the field than it is about losing the likes of Wade McKinnon, Bryce Gibbs and Andrew Fifita. Fans need to blow off steam, so the easy thing to do is put a stink on about the uncertainty surrounding the 2012 squad.
 
While it’s all well and good for fans to rant and rave – I hate the thought of Chris Heighington leaving – it’s time for the players to focus on footy. This “review” for one of a better term is long overdue and should have happened in 2008. The players have had it too good for too long and when it’s all said and done, the Tigers have been the most loyal club of the past decade. I couldn’t care less if Benji Marshall is upset about Tim Moltzen’s rumoured departure to the Dragons. Look for another room mate and move on like the highly-paid professional you are. Superstars don’t run the game, and that includes Mr Marshall.
 
The player departures at Camp Concord will help clear the way for new blood, which in itself is an exciting prospect. The Tigers have been linked to everyone from Raiders duo Daniel Vidot and Josh Dugan to reformed Rooster Todd Carney. The Adam Blair signing is the worst kept secret since Tim Sheens realised John Morris wasn’t a halfback, and then there’s the next generation of young guns headlined by Matt Groat, Neil Begovich and Curtis Sironen. The Tigers also have NSW Cup players Jake Mullaney, Junior Roqica and Matt Hyland in the mix and there is plenty of noise surrounding Toyota Cup stars Marika Koroibete and James Tedesco. So while the club makes the tough calls and endures some short-term pain, the long-term gain will be significant.
 
Numbers game: 183. The number of players the Tigers have been linked to for next season. Let me know if I’ve missed anyone…
 
Shout out: ”As far as I’m concerned, Tim is under contract with Wests Tigers for 2012″ – Tigers CEO Stephen Humphreys on Tim Moltzen’s future.
 
<TigerBrad^>

Round 18: Eels vs Tigers

Preview:

Regardless of ladder position, Eels v Tigers games are usually high quality and exciting prospects. On this occasion, though, both teams are limping into this game desperately low on confidence and in pretty poor form. The Eels have lost three on the bounce since their draw with St George while Wests Tigers have lost four of their last seven games. Paramatta’s chance of making the finals has flat lined after losing to the Broncos reserve grade team last week. Wests remain in control of their own finals destiny. They have a favourable schedule in front of them and a handful more top players due back from injury over the coming weeks – but the team is fast running out of time to rediscover their attacking flair to challenge for the title.

Compounding the disappointing loss to the Bulldogs, Tigers fans spent most of the bye week reading about poor Dwyer’s injury, speculation about Heighington’s contractual situation and just about every player transfer rumour under the sun. Thank God there’s a Tigers footy game to watch this weekend!

The Tigers have generally not coped well when returning from a bye week. Case in point was the bashing we got from the Bunnies earlier this year. But the extra week off has at least meant Lawrence and Payten are available to return from their long-term injuries. Unfortunately Marshall is still absent (and unlikely to be a late inclusion) and Fulton was not considered after suffering concussion in two consecutive games. Tuqiri and Utai are also a week or two way from returning. On the positive side, Ben Murdoch-Masila gets an opportunity to start in the second row and I’m keen to see him make an impact and push for a regular first grade spot.

The Eels are in a world of hurt and have been held scoreless five times in first halves this year. That aspect alone presents an opportunity for Wests to find their attacking mojo and get off to a good start. Our defence has been quite solid in the last two games, but we have just looked lost in attack. Without Benji, the responsibility will again fall to the young halves, Lui and Miller, to get us over the white stripe with Farah popping-up in the halves on occasion to assist the youngsters.

The return of Lawrence and Payten will add some much needed experience to the team, and with a smart kicking game from Farah and Lui this could be a comfortable victory for the good guys. Hopefully Sheens has used the week off to work on techniques to slow down the ruck when defending – much like the Storm and Dogs managed to do to us so effectively. The referees have turned a blind eye to that part of the game, so if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

Fortune Teller:

FTS: Going out on a limb and picking Lawrence to hit the ground running and continue his pre-injury try-scoring form.
HT/FT: Tigers/Tigers
Margin: Tigers 13+

Fantasy Bites:

Brad’s Howling T’Wolves continued their dominance and dispatched of FlannoFan to sit alone at the top of the ladder. FlannoFan has admitted his forward pack was completely outplayed and has pledged to use his last few trades to rebuild with a youth policy before the finals. While he can’t announce any signings at this time, he has already advised two players that they are free to look around.

Round 18 is one of the most challenging head-to-head rounds in the BWTF Printing Well Cup, with the Broncos and Dragons on byes and many fantasy studs backing up from Origin. Without the likes of Parker, Hannant, Glenn, Soward, Gasnier and now Thurston, coaches will be struggling to find enough quality reserves to fill all 17 positions. But after this last hurdle it’s a clear run of games to Round 22 before the four week final series kicks-off between Round 23-26. Keep your powder dry and hope the injury gods are looking the other way when your Dreamteam takes the field.

<^One-Eyed Tiger^>