The Halfback and Forth – The Struggles of being a WT Fan

At the start of this season I had every intention of writing regular blogs for BWTF. The first eight weeks of the season passed, and we were four from eight. We probably should have even been six from eight. JT was saying the right things in press conferences, and WT Fans were again cautiously optimistic after some of the wins we had.

Then the decline started in a train wreck that could only be outdone by Bernie Tomic’s relationship status with Tennis Australia. My desire to write blogs declined in a similar fashion, and not because I didn’t have things to write about but simply because I knew that you, our loyal BWTF readers didn’t need to. I wasn’t going to be telling you anything that you weren’t seeing in the games. I started to get really frustrated, to a point where I shocked even Mrs Slade when I turned off the game against Penrith at the 50 minute mark, something that I only do in the depths of disgust and despair. Mrs Slade turned to me and said ‘You don’t have any faith in your team, there’s still time!’ but I knew that a loss in that game was all but a certainty.

For those that are reading this article that perhaps aren’t Tigers fans it’s been an incredibly frustrating period of time to be a supporter. The decline started in 2012 if we’re being realistic. At the time I was heavily critical of some of the recruitment decisions made by Sheens and Humphries. It makes our current form even harder to handle – it’s not like we’ve been near the top for the last few years and this is a rebuilding year. We’ve been rebuilding for next to four seasons, and for many fans the frustration weighs on us immensely.

The Bed WT have made, needs to be slept in

If you read Marina Go’s article last week about the club’s cap, it paints a scary picture yet not one that should be a surprise to most of us that pay attention to this kind of thing. We continue to be hampered by back-ended contracts for players like Lawrence and Galloway and really are in no position to sign ‘big’ name players for next year, with 2017 looking to be the first year that we can start to actually offer reasonable contracts again.

The perpetual comment that WT fans love to churn out ‘We keep losing young stars and not signing anyone’ is just odd. I could understand the frustration if we didn’t already have youngsters in the squad but our current squad is full of our juniors. I could understand the frustration but the reality is we just cannot continue to introduce more and more young talent if we want to get anywhere near the Top 8 in the next 3 years.

I was sad to see Te Maire Martin go, the kid has a lot of promise yet I was by no means surprised. I wish TMM all the best and I’m glad he ended up at the Panthers as I at least do not despise that club. Yet people remain frustrated at the decision yet when you think about it, it makes no sense whatsoever to keep TMM given that we are going forward with Brooks and Moses. Moses has a lot to work on and yet he does continue to improve game by game. Why waste the precious games that we have played with him to develop him, only to have to start again with TMM?

One of my biggest frustrations has been reading the perpetual bagging of our young halves week in, week out. The Real Talk is that they have been far from our biggest problem, yet people continue to bag them because they’re easy targets. Those less aware of the games would focus on the halves and less so on say the forward pack which is where the games have really been lost. Galloway was constantly churning out 150 metres a game in the first six games. Since then, he’s not been close. Buchanan continues to be one of those ‘great reserve grade, average first grade’ players. Santi frustrates me and produce errors at turning points of games.

For some perspective, Ben Hunt has played some 130 games for the Broncos to Moses’ 26. I watch a lot of Broncos games with my mates and it honestly wasn’t until around game 85 or so (roughly) that Ben Hunt really developed into the game winning half that he is now. Some players are born with immense talent and don’t struggle to transition. Some take a little time. Moses will get there but we have to give him the game time to do so.

How does it get fixed?
Despite the results of the last few years, I continue to believe that the core squad we have are capable of winning a premiership in a few years’ time provided that the WT Staff and Board get their next couple of recruitment decisions right.In order of importance we need: An offloading second rower, a solid centre and a FRF to replace Galloway in 2017. Yet when you look at the talent pool of off contract players this year, there isn’t really that much impressive talent available in the open market and we just aren’t in a position to steal a player off another club by paying release fees. Frankly I’d rather see us not recruit than recruit another nuffie signing like the multitude of signings we made for 2012/2013. I’d keep Curtis Sironen ahead of making another Ed Pettyborne signing any day.

I’m sure JT continues to keep an eye on other teams and players and we have to give JT a chance. He’s made some mistakes, no doubt. Yet calls to overthrow the coach are ridiculous given the problems with our squads. I do believe that JT was the best available option for us coming into this year and we have to give him the chance to carry out his plans. I’ve seen fans criticise the club for not giving Mick Potter the ability to make enough of a mark on our roster yet would have JT booted in exactly the same circumstances. By the way, if you’re one of those muppets that thinks we should bring back Sheens, you are to WT fans what Nick Kyrgios is to sportsmanship.

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It’s not all bad
We all may be incredibly frustrated and yet, it’s not as bad as it could be. At end of 2012 I was frustrated because I couldn’t see where the improvement was going to come from. Our roster was not set up to rebuild and there was no clear future for the team. This is where I see the Knights this year. Bennett may be a strong coach with a good roster yet he has a reputation of not setting up a club to rebuild. When you look at the Knights, they’ve not blooded their young guns well. Their recruitment decisions have not been based around setting up for the future and I find it hard to see where the improvement is going to come from with their Roster. Bennett will do the same to the Broncos when he leaves too.

I say this not to put the Knights down but to make a point. At least us Wests Tigers fans have some hope to cling to. A small amount of hope, but hope none the less. The cubs do have room to improve, if we’re patient enough. And let’s face it, we need to hold onto that glimmer of hope, otherwise we’d be putting remotes through TV’s.

It’s not easy being a Wests Tigers fan but ultimately, I couldn’t see myself supporting any other club.

I committed tipping suicide…..now I pay.

Dear Laurie, who art in heaven holy be his name.
“Yes my lost Tiger fan, speak your confession”
“Laurie, today I tipped against the Tigers”
Now Laurie drops the line and I am alone. Except for the synchronous chant of all others in this household tipping comp chastising my decisions and question my loyalty and price tag for a sell out.

So much so, a Roosters membership link was sent to me.

I beg the question, is tipping against ones side wrong? Am I a fool?

Laurie, please pick up the phone, or come back to our blog (we know you’re an avid reader) and here my justification.
Quite frankly Laurie, I simply have the shits.

For weeks I have watched Sterlo, Matty Johns, even listened to Tallis spew his thoughts on the game looking for a clue – I don’t do Channel 9 Footy Show as it is like a baboon throwing his own faeces on my TV screen and the remote is my Kleenex. Anyway, I watch and listen hoping some “expert” will have the answers, and the only thing that dawns on me is I have been doing this for years.We have changed coaches, scrubbed the Board and gone broke nearly more times than Lawrence has scored this year.Yes, I know we have a young team, I understand we have developing halves and I know it takes time.But you know what else I know, the longer the fuse the bigger the bomb! This is me exploding.

Do I think we can beat Souths, no I don’t. I have watched us play the last month and it has been woeful, even when we have a massive lead (e.g Canberra) we lose. Even when we have a team on the ropes we somehow lose.

So my tip, my one lonely way to speak the truth – my tip is Souths will win. If you think I should “tip with my heart” your welcome to those lovely sentiments, but this is not a game of Hearts, save that for when you alone on the computer with no internet on some crap domestic flight.

It is a game of passion, bravery and pride. I am a proud Tigers fan, and I am passionately pissed off, and I feel brave to state it, against what repercussions might come.

Now – Laurie, Friday night comes, and I sit down on the edge of the couch, dog at feet and heater not far away. Laurie, do reckon once I will cheer the cardinal and myrtle foe. No. Not bloody once, and I can only pray, by the graces of the old gods and the new, or the god of light or whoever that for once I can cheer the Tigers home, I lose my tip and next week I am back on the wagon.

Right now – can’t see it.

So my tip Laurie, please take it as a lonely vote of protest. Protest against a issue for which I do not know the cause. Protesting not against the players, the coach or the Establishment, just a protest that we are not winning, have not won in ages and I want one.

If it not next week it better be against Manly.

So punter, in Laurie’s absence you judge me. Would you ever tip against the Tigers?

The Golden Point – Round 10

Round 10 marked an incredibly frustrating loss, that left most of us either incredibly angry or incredibly bitter. For most of us, the wounds of 2013 and 2014 are all too recent to forget when performances like that occur and suddenly we find ourselves wondering if anything has really changed. While we could sit here and tear the game to shreds and open the wounds it is important to review the game and see what really happened.

What We Liked

Early on in the year the Tigers were finding ways to win games despite less than spectacular games from Brooks and Moses. Being so young and inexperienced they are easy targets for blame and while Moses did miss a disappointing 9 tackles, their kicking game has improved substantially. Brooks had 361 kick metres, and Moses 222. That’s an improvement of 52m from Moses, and 175m from Brooks off Round 9.
In addition Moses had some runs that I thought were some of his best attacking phases all year. If Moses can take upon himself to run the ball a little more, I think our attack will benefit greatly from it.

I can’t finish this section without mentioning Tedesco. Man is that kid something special. This isn’t exactly news to us die hards, but his stats were impressive. 146 run metres (second only behind Woodsy), 1 Try Assist and 6 Tackle breaks. I can’t get enough of the kid and in my honest opinion, losing him to Origin would’ve dealt the Tigers a bigger blow than the absence of Robbie Farah in his current form.

What we didn’t like

There’s so many things we could look at here in terms of blame. While he did do a fair bit of tackling, Nofo was truly under-done and it showed in the first half. As the game went on he did improve, but his defensive lapse cost us the first try and made some errors at crucial times. However, he’s not the biggest factor in the loss for me.

Simply put, we lost the game in the forwards. I tweeted after the game on Sunday Night the Run Metres of all forwards, and was honestly disgusted to see that Woods was the only forward to crack over 90 metres. Siro was our second best starting forward with 67 metres but that’s pitiful. This for me is the difference between this game and the first 5 games of the season. Our forwards were standing up and laying down a platform. These players will need to find form and fast if our team is any chance of being anywhere near the Top 8 come Round 26.

The Glimmer of Hope

Most of us have our heads down at the moment after the string of losses but it’s not all bad news, fans. Six of our next seven games are at home and our opponents include a heavily depleted Cowboys, Reynolds and Inglis-less Rabbitohs, Titans, Panthers and Eels with our toughest game being R15 against the Eagles.

Let’s hope our boys can get some wins together and build some momentum.

Thoughts from the Bench

TravelPig – There are glimmers of hope but unless they all shine at once we cannot be a star. Inconsistency and getting it right on the day is what matters. I am not a fan of warming up on the ground, I believe it removes some of the intensity a team can bring when they run down the tunnel and hear the crowd for the first time at the game. But we have fewer injuries so JT knows best. Lack of concentration also looks like lack of desperation. I am not sure which but each week Tigers are good for 1 or 2 soft tries simply through misreads or goofy mistakes.

OneEyed – I’m struggling to stay positive after that Knights performance. It was the bad old days re-revisited. What’s it going to take for this team to play smart? JT is clearly an intelligent man, but the culture at our club is proving very difficult to change from the latter years of the Sheens era. Saturday’s game versus a severely depleted Cowboys team is simply a must-win. No excuses whatsoever. I’m really not a fan of these Origin-effected split rounds, but if it helps us get a much needed win I’ll take it this weekend.

TigerBrad – A wise man said something to me this week and it really hit home. I may be paraphrasing, but it went like this: “Only two seasons matter for Wests Tigers fans – 2005 and next season.” To me, it’s deja vu all over again. I hope I’m wrong, but 2015 has a familiar feel to it. No consistency in attack, forwards getting totally dominated and soft tries being scored against us. On another note, Chris Lawrence is embarrassing himself. He has to go.

Let’s hope our boys turn things around tonight.

Preview – Round 9 – Tigers at Roosters

 

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Wrap-up

Talk about a rollercoaster couple of weeks. From the depressing depths after being beaten by the Raiders in Round 7, the Wests Tigers re-grouped and emphatically smashed the Bulldogs in Round 8.wests tigers game preview Then, keeping us riding on a high, Tim Simona re-signed for a further two years just prior to his representative game for Samoa, unfortunately to only sustain an ankle injury that will keep him sidelined for four weeks. It’s never smooth sailing in Tigertown, is it?

For me, the biggest feel-good factor over the past couple of weeks has been seeing the influence that Jason Taylor is exhibiting over the club. He’s clearly a very intelligent and articulate man. And for him to instill confidence in the young players after that disappointing loss to Canberra speaks volumes for how strong he’s bonded with the squad in a short amount of time.

On Sterlo last week, he also spoke about the game plans being followed at the moment. He admitted that Moses is not featuring that heavily at the moment, but Taylor says he has a very clear vision of where he wants Moses and the team to go. On that note, he’s very happy with Moses’ progress so far. Taylor clearly has the big picture in mind and, more importantly, he has a plan on how to get there. And he’s proven over the first 8 games that he has communicated that plan very clearly to the young and senior players alike – and all signs point to the fact that everyone has bought into it.

Know your enemy

Bloody Roosters. They’re our number 1 bogey team in the NRL. We haven’t won against them since 2011, and even if they are out of form we somehow seem to play them back into form. Despite our big win in Round 8 and the Roosters riding on a four match losing streak, we are at least $3.10 outsiders with the bookies. wests tigers game previewGuerra has been named to return this week from a broken jaw, and Mitch Aubusson also returns. But the real danger for mine will be Pearce and Maloney, mostly due to the fact they are in the box seat to press their claims for NSW Origin recalls given the poor form of the Canterbury incumbents (I won’t even dignify talk of Austin being in the frame for Origin at this stage of his career – when I hear talk like that I’m reminded of a New Zealander with one leg shorter than the other: “Not even bro”).

Despite their losing streak, the Roosters haven’t been playing badly. Their losing margins have only been 8, 4, 1, and 2 points. If they were going to break back into the winners circle, historically speaking they couldn’t ask for a better match up than the Wests Tigers. But this time will be different, right? This time they won’t get a free pass from us, right?

Player spotlight

He started from the bench last week as a second-rower, but given Tim Simona’s injury Chris Lawrence returns to the centres tomorrow.wests tigers game preview I thought Chris had a really good game in the forwards, but JT admitted it was only a temporary move while Galloway was out. And with Simona out for a month it’s unlikely we’ll see Chris in the forwards again anytime soon. Rumours surfaced during the week that Lawrence is being shopped around to free up some cap space. It’s hard to know whether this has any substance, but we know Chris hasn’t been as potent as his early years form since his hip injury. Regardless, we need Chris at his best this week. The Roosters backline is oozing with game breakers so his defence and communication with is winger will need to be spot on.

Fortune Teller

FTS: Jennings (@ $10.00) and Farah (@ $41.00) look like goers for me.
At The Line: Take the +8.5 line @ $1.90. This won’t be a blow out. Not this time.
Best exotic: 1st Half being the Highest Scoring Half @ $2.20.

@OneEyedTiger_

The Golden Point – Round 8

Round 8 saw our boys produce a great win against the admittedly under-staffed Bulldogs. We here at BWTF thought we’d have a deeper look now that the dust has settled. What did the game tell us about our team, what needs work, and a brief thought on the game ahead.

Opening Whistle
This week’s win was an important one for the team. Being such a young team, confidence will play a major role in how our season progresses. Off the back off two losses especially with the way in which we lost against the Raiders, a win was a lot more important than I think some of us may have been willing to admit.

What we liked
There’s a lot we could talk about here. Patty’s penalty goal & Kevvy’s awesome try assist are right up there, but this humble blogger thinks that we need to focus past the news headlines. The things I liked started before kick off, with JT making some tough calls regarding the squad composition. I’ve thought that Lawrence should probably have moved to the second row a good season or two ago and I wonder if JT is realising the same thing. Lawrence hit some good lines and while wasn’t ‘amazing’ I think with time he could become a solid fringe second row bench option.

On top of that, Moses and Brooks’ kicking game was much improved in previous weeks. I’ll also add that Faf has taken back more of the kicking in recent weeks, which has meant we’ve found more ground time but both the kids had better boots than what we’d seen all season. I can’t finish this segment without giving a deserved mention to Delouise Hoeter. The kid has taken his opportunity in both hands and didn’t let anyone down.

And what we loved? I’ll just leave this photo here.
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What we didn’t like
While I did enjoy the shift of Lawrence to the bench, I can’t help but feel that having a bench that contains both Halatau and Lawrence leaves us a little light on against some of the bigger teams in the competition. When Big Red comes back, I think our best team has Sue on the bench and either Halatau or Lawrence missing out. At least outside of representative season anyway. Halatau hasn’t been bad per se, but is very ‘fill the gaps’.

Being such a good performance this week means that this section of the blog was always going to be light on.

Next Round
We’ve got the bye this weekend I firstly hope for a weekend free of injury as our boys play various representative games. Past that, Round 9 sees us taking on the Roosters, currently $1.33 favourites with the bookies. They definitely deserve to be favourites but I can’t help but feel the bookies are making a mistake here. I think we’re a good chance of an upset.

Thoughts from the Bench

The game ball goes to JT. It’s a bit of a love fest, but he deserves it. JT’s comments about the inconsistencies of the NRL draw took the heat off a team that had just blown a 22-point lead and allowed them to focus on knocking off the Dogs. That move, combined with the Lawrence switch, continued JT’s rise among the coaching ranks. – TigerBrad

JT called them out during the post game presser as well, but Sue and Ava were fantastic. Each racked up a stack of valuable metres (146m and 116m respectively) for their time in the field. Despite his questionable hair style, Sue is having a monster season, putting pay to fears our forward pack was looking a bit thin year. – OneEyedTiger

King Richards sharp shooting will put teams who intentionally give penalties a wake up call.  Such teams are “trained” to give penalties in certain positions, and hence if Tigers can manufacture these situations and take two points each time, Tigers could see 6 – 8 points come from penalties.  Not bad outcome, especially if these are taken near the halfway line. – TravelPig

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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

 

RND 5  wests tigers game preview  AT  wests tigers game preview

 

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