Preview – Round 7 – Tigers vs Raiders

 

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Wrap-up

Another case of close but no cigar. The Warriors got the rub of the green with some favourable officiating, but Wests Tigers were left lamenting periods of poor defence (28 missed tackles) and poor discipline (10 penalties conceded). wests tigers game previewTim Simona had a particularly strong game, bagging two tries, breaking four tackles, and racking up over 70 running metres. Woodsy again lead the team in runs and metres gained, but had a few uncharacteristic errors which cost us momentum at key moments. After six games, three wins is not terrible. Our loses were against the 2014 grand finalists and the Warriors at home, so that’s hardly a failure – especially considering the last two loses we were knife-edge results. But heading into our first home game at Leichhardt it almost feels like a must-win scenario against Sticky’s Raiders. And I have no doubt that will be case. We again will field an unchanged line-up for the forth week in a row. Is this real life?

Know your enemy

Canberra have two wins so far (Round 1 and Round 5), with a couple of narrow four- and two-point losses. Lock Fensom and hooker Hodgson have been named for the visitors but are in serious doubt and will have will until game day to make the cut.wests tigers game preview In terms of danger men, Jack Wighton is always a threat. He’s scored two tries so far and even collected a man-of-the-match award in the same game he was sin-binned – so, clearly he’s pretty good. And of course, there’s also former Wests Tiger Blake Austin to watch. We saw last year how dangerous he is taking on the line and will no doubt be primed for a big game.

Player spotlight

Which brings us to this week’s spotlight. I’ve gone with two players – Brooks and Moses. wests tigers game previewEveryone will be comparing “the one that got away” to the “one we have”. There’s no doubt that Austin and Moses are very different types of five-eighth. Austin takes on the line more, where as Moses’ strength is connecting passes with the back-rowers and centres. But it’s our kicking game that I’ll be most interested in seeing improvement. Both Moses and Brooks need to put more pressure on the back three. Forced drop-outs, finding gaps, finding touch – anything that prevents players like Wighton and Lee, from gaining cheap metres on tackle one.

Fortune Teller

Not bad last week. We got a first try scorer (@ $17.00) and our exotic bet (@ $2.30).

FTS: I feel like Rowdy is due. Take Lawrence @ $14.00 and Tedesco @ $9.50.
At The Line: We have a -7.5 line @ $1.90. That shouldn’t be problem.
Best exotic: Wests Tigers 13+ @ $2.40.

@OneEyedTiger_

Five For Fighting – Round 6

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@BatPete: Footy is a game about balance, discipline and toughness. These are the three elements common to the best coached teams. Their players push through the pain, find more when they think they have nothing left. They coach the big picture game rather than the miracle play. They drill discipline into their players and make them rely on one and other. The Tigers lacked in two of these areas against the Warriors – discipline and balance. We gave away penalties that didn’t need to be given away. We didn’t make key tackles. Our team’s leaders had no view of the big picture in the game, they kept trying useless bombs instead of playing field position and giving our forwards a rest. One thing we can take away from this game is toughness. We didn’t get overawed by the crowd, we didn’t get overawed by the big forwards or the occasion. We played tough footy and we played it for most of the game. This is cause for celebration, because with our young side, discipline and balance will come.

@OneEyedTiger_: I hate to be one of those fans crying #refsfault after a game. Yes, our discipline was poor, first half defensive lapses embarrassing and kicking game just woeful. We’re not forcing dropouts or finding touch. Surely it can’t be that hard to correct, but week after week it remains our key weakness. However, a few vital home-town calls by Badger definitely influenced the result. And it’s not just Badger. We saw some deadset shocking calls in Monday night footy this week too. On a positive note, Simona’s performance was one of the highlights for mine. Great to see him bust tackles and grab a couple of tries. Always been a big fan of him and his attitude. I also thought Sue did a good job coming off the bench. It certainly gave us a more balanced rotation. And Lovett gives nothing away in the run on side (28 tackles, no misses, no errors). Canberra should be in for a shellacking.

@NotBenji6: The weekend’s loss had some incredibly disappointing refereeing which we have spoken about previously. What concerned me more than the reffing was that we almost seemed to have a lack of respect for the game and our opponents. While Woods hit great metres and tackle counts again, he gave away some stupid and uncharacteristic penalties and errors at early stages in our count and late stages in NZ’s. Regardless of our opponent our boys can not afford to give the opposition free reign off the back of consecutive errors and penalties. Despite this, I was very happy with Simona and his fend on Konrad got this Cuzzie a bit randy. That run was what Simona needed, and the Simona that we knew had been hidden. Let’s hope he builds off this going forward.

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Preview – Round 6 – Tigers at Warriors

 

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Wrap-up

What a way to mark your 100th NRL game! Pat Richards’ try and try-assists in the second half have been the talk of Tiger town all week.wests tigers game previewBut the impressive win was the result of a much improved overall team performance. An 85% completion rate showed that we controlled the game fairly well. A few poor options and terrible drops (I’m looking at you Chris Lawrence) did put the Wests Tigers under pressure, but at least the team was able to defend themselves out of trouble, keeping a clean sheet for the final 50 minutes. While there have been some fitness concerns over Farah and Halatau, both are expected to play, meaning we’ll have the bonus of running with the same 17 this week. The trip over the ditch is never easy. Wests have won 4 of the 9 games we’ve played at Mount Smart, and only 1 of the past 4 games against the Warriors.

Know your enemy

While Ben Matulino is leading the way up front for New Zealand and polling the most Dally M votes after 5 rounds (sharing the lead with our own Aaron Woods on seven votes), it’s the Beast on the left wing who remains the biggest danger for the Warriors.wests tigers game previewWhen Manu Vatuvei is on, he’s lethal. And celebrating his 200th NRL game at home we know he’ll be pumped for this one. He’s bagged three tries so far in 2015 and leads the team in attacking run metres. Sam Tomkins will be an obvious target for Brooks and Moses after his week in the papers. Not sure how you get home-sick for the north of England while living in Auckland, but each to their own I suppose.

Player spotlight

The Warriors have been favouring their right side in attack, so this week’s spotlight falls on Kevin Naiqama.wests tigers game previewNaiqama was signed to provide depth at the wing position, but given the news this week that David Nofoaluma will be sidelined until about Round 12, he’s got the NRL starting job for a while yet. And he’s well and truly earned it. Beating four defenders to muscle over for that try right on half time got us back in the match last Monday. While his defense has also been fairly solid, he’ll face his biggest test by far against Manu today. Shaun Johnson is sure to target his wing with cutout passes and attacking chip kicks.

Fortune Teller

We collected on the line (and H2H side bet) last week. Looking to do better this week …

FTS: The Warriors are vulnerable down their right side defense, so jump on Richards @ $14.00 and Simona @ $17.00. Good value.
At The Line: They’re giving us +7.5 @ $1.91. Jump on that.
Best exotic: Wests Tigers to score first try of the second half @ $2.30.

@OneEyedTiger_

Five For Fighting: Round 5

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Pat Richards - Ice Man

@NotBenji6: A bit confused as to how I felt about Monday’s win. The last fifteen minutes was obviously pure class from a few of our backs, but with 15 minutes to go the game was right on the line and we were unable to punish the Eels off the back of three consecutive turnovers as a result of Parra mistakes. If we’re to be a real top 8 side that can seriously challenge come finals time, we need to be better than that.Brooks’ kicking game is now coming under the spotlight as other people cotton on to what FFF have been talking about all year – a lack of variety on the 5th tackle options. He’s got a good long kick on him, so he needs to use it! However, had some players really stand up for most of the game that gave me some faith that we will be ok over Origin. Halatau was running some great lines out of Dummy Half, Lawrence (Excluding his error) had a solid game and Lovett continued to be solid.

@OneEyedTiger_: The casual observers and commentators reckoned it was mostly a dud game outside the final 15 minutes, but there was so much to like from a Wests Tigers perspective over the full 80. 52% possession, 85% completion rate, 40-odd tackle breaks, 8 players exceeding 100 running metres and only 19 missed tackles. Regardless of those careless missed opportunities @NotBenji6 mentioned, those are kind of stats JT can base a solid season around. Brooks’ last tackle options remain a bit pedestrian with innocuous bombs, but on the balance I guess it’s credit to the whole team that we’re at least getting into attacking positions at the end of most sets. Our forwards are powering up field and making good metres after contact. After the last couple of seasons that in itself is a big improvement. Together with our new defensive patterns, there’s plenty to be excited about so far. On Triple M that afternoon, Anthony Maroon reckoned it was embarrassing for Parramatta to be beaten by Wests Tigers, given the pre-season wraps on the Eels. Jimmy Smith piped up and reminded him just how well we performed against last year’s grand finalists in the last couple of weeks, and that the way we closed out Monday’s game shows there’s no shame in being beaten by the 2015 Wests Tigers. Damn straight! Bring on the Warriors, cuz!

@BatPete: I’ve came to an interesting realisation this weekend while watching Dene Halatau give the Parramatta forwards headaches. We have one of the most skilled and versatile teams in the comp at the moment. With players like Rowdy, Siro and Lovett who could all play halves, second row or centre, people like Richards and Farah who are options for last tackle kicks and forwards like Woods that can pass like halves. This was our strength against the Eels and I think it will be what wins us games in the future. Every team has heard the hype about our young halves and dangerous outside backs and they prepare for it. I’d like to see the Tigers play a little more off the cuff, play what is in front of them. Once this happens, we will be the most dangerous team in the NRL.

@LaurenBerry01: I struggled watching most of this game (I blame the whisky!) but after winning and then rewatching it I was struck by just how great our defence was. Preseason JT said that defence wins premierships and he wanted us to be in the top 2 for it, and now? We are 2nd in the league for defence. That is freaking huge!!! So I am ok with a boring game where we keep a team to 6, as it means our D is on, but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about our attack. Patty is only one man and like we saw last week, we can’t afford to rely on him as heavily as we do. Teddy played really well and Brooks wasn’t abysmal but Moses is killing me. I am hoping that our attack will click soon now that our D is more solid. I was also blown away by our match stats. The only area we ‘lost’ was on penalties, but like JT also said in preseason, conceding penalties isn’t something that worries him. Coming from the Roosters who give them away intentionally in a lot of cases if it means stopping a try or momentum, his approach that the sky isn’t falling due to conceding them is refreshing (unless it becomes an actual problem). Lawrence showed some old form and I would marry Richards (but that isn’t news).

[@NotTimSheens was on duty planning for the ANZAC test this week]

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Preview – Round 5 – Tigers at Eels

 

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Wrap-up

Golden point losses are just the worst. And having to wait 10 days for the next game is not much fun either.wests tigers game previewThere were plenty of positives over the first 60 minutes of last week’s loss to build on for this week. Kyle Lovett is showing he’s every bit a first grader, getting a late call-up into the starting line-up, playing for 72 minutes, leading the team tackle count with 46, making two tackle breaks and one line break. He also ran a great attacking line to hook up with Brooks to score his first NRL try. Lovett will get another opportunity in the starting line-up tomorrow with JT opting to bring Sue off the bench for greater impact. It’s a positive move in my opinion and will give us a more balanced bench rotation – which we’ll need as we face a very good forward pack in the Parramatta Eels.

Know your enemy

After destroying Manly in Round 1, the Eels suffered back-to-back losses before recording a gritty victory over Souths last week.wests tigers game previewThey sit just above Wests Tigers on the table on the cusp of the Top 8 thanks to a marginally better points differential. Their forward pack did a great job against Souths and on the back of that Chris Sandow was in dangerous form. As were outside backs Folau and Robinson who each bagged a double. With Woodsy and Halatau back, our forward pack looks stronger so I like our chances in matching the Eels up front. But Sandow is their biggest X-factor, especially when he’s playing with confidence. We need to pressure his kicking game for the full 80 and be wary of his long cut-out passes.

Player spotlight

My player spotlight this week is on Luke Brooks.wests tigers game previewAfter somewhat patchy periods over the first four games, Brooks did have an improved game overall last week. He took on the line a number of times and combined beautifully with Tedesco for two great tries. Unfortunately, a few wayward passes at the line and poor fifth tackle kicks when the game was in the balance in the final 20 minutes overshadowed his performance. Brooks seems to rise to big-game occasions, and it doesn’t get much bigger at this time of year than prime-time Easter Monday. Our games against the Eels often go down to the wire so Brooks’ composure and ability to control the momentum of the game will have a huge bearing on the outcome.

Fortune Teller

FTS: Take either of our wingers: Naiqama and Richards are both posted @ $10.00.
At The Line: The line opened at Wests Tigers +2.0 but has narrowed slightly to +1.5 @ $1.91. Whatever points they give us, take it. I’m backing an outright win, of course (@ $2.00).
Best exotic: Total match points over +42.5 @ 1.90.

– OneEyedTiger

Five For Fighting – Round 4

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@NotTimSheens: The loss sucked, but it’s all part of the process. I’m not going to claim a moral victory – that’s for losers like the Raiders, Titans and Sharks – we blew and 18-point lead and it’s largely inexcusable. For mine, JT’s post-match presser was the most telling moment of the night. He could have laid into Brooks and Moses for not steadying the ship and controlling the game or made any number of Sheens-esque excuses about youth, injuries and a short turnaround. Instead he praised the effort, talked up his team and instilled even more confidence into an outfit that took the 2014 grand finalists to the brink in consecutive weeks.

@BatPete: It’s early days, but someone has to be critical of the play of the halves and outside backs over these past few weeks. Brooks and Moses aren’t making the right choices at the line. Fifth tackle options are still non-existent and we’re wasting opportunities to put teams to the sword. I understand about youth and inexperience, but Brooks has been playing NRL for over a year now and Moses for over six months. Maybe the JT influence on the halves isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? On a lighter note, Delouise Hoeter showed why everyone has had wraps on him with a solid game, and our forwards were a revelation.

@LaurenBerry01: When did you become so negative, @BatPete? We are rebuilding and it’s exciting! Fixing our forwards and allowing our halves some free rein isn’t a doomsday prophecy, it’s just a different style of coaching. It allows Brooks and Moses to find their way without coaching any flair and creativity out of them. I’m with @NotTimSheens, the way JT viewed our loss made me smile. He refused to pass the buck but also didn’t regurgitate the same old shit. You can see he believes in the team and he knows we are on track. It’s a slow, solid rebuild that will hold for longer than one or two seasons.

@OneEyedTiger_: I’m as disappointed as the next person about the loss. When you lose in golden point there are many moments you can reflect on where the game could have been won: from Teddy’s denied try, Lawrence and Sironen being held up centimetres from scoring and Brooks’ close drop goal attempt. We’ve seen in past seasons how valuable two points can be in making or missing the finals (yes, it’s Round 4 and I’m talking finals!) And while I’m at it, why hasn’t the NRL changed the rules so that a team gets one point for losing in extra time? We all know it makes sense, right?

@NotBenji6: Eating a bit of humble pie this week. Off the back of the short turnaround against the toughest team to beat in the competition, with a depleted team I fully expected us to get decently touched up. The Wests Tigers of 2012/2013 would’ve had 30-40 points put on them in the same scenario. Our ‘fringe’ players just continue stand up time and time again, and the loss was heartbreaking as all have stated. With such a young team, momentum was always going to play a big factor in the outcome of this game. There’s still a lot of question marks, and I’m not entirely convinced, but I was proud of the boys.

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