Wests Tigers will line up against the New Zealand Warriors in a sudden death elimination final at the Sydney Football Stadium tonight. Join us for live scores and blog of the NRL semi-final, kicking off at 7:45pm (AEST).
The Tigers come off the back of a win against reigning premiers St George, though in fact it was a second-half victory.
While their second half was very effective with plays from deep inside their half, solid defence, and extra effort, the first half was atrocious.
While trying to extend their joint-venture record of eight straight wins, the Tigers have the benefit of playing a Warriors team that appeared like a deer caught in headlights.
Brisbane were outstanding, but the Warriors missed 59 tackles, upwards of six times were put under pressure or scored against from sets starting deep in Broncos territory, and dropped 16 balls, completing only 18 of 33 sets.
Manu Vatuvei in particular was woeful under the high ball.
Big Manu is not immune to these types of shockers, but should bounce back after channelling Paul Carige for much of last week’s match.
Depending on who you’ve been listening to, the Tigers will or won’t be targeting him with high balls, but expect it to happen.
Big news too are the returns of Chris Lawrence for the Tigers, and Krisnan Inu for the Warriors. Lawrence will ensure that the both sides of the Tigers offence will be lethal.
Inu is a mixed bag at times, and hasn’t had the best of seasons, but is a finals veteran and could help steady a shaky Warriors side facing the end of their season.
Key Match Up: Chris Lawrence versus Krisnan Inu
Assuming Inu lines up on the right side, he will be faced by the return of Australian left centre Chris Lawrence. Lawrence has been injured, but when on form will be difficult to stop. Inu has the ability to pull off a big play, but it will be hard.
If Lawrence finds space behind Inu it’s hard to see big Manu catching him, even with his deceptive speed.
Tigers, probably by a margin of over 10 points, depending on whether they can put 40, 60, or 80 minutes of good footy together.