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|M. C. Kam||77|
The Wests Tigers have defeated the New Zealand Warriors at Campbelltown 34-6. For the second week in a row, Robbie Farah wound back the clock with some extremely clever play, at times making the Warriors look stupid in defence.
The game started off at a break-neck pace. It was non stop, with plenty of ball movement and offloads from both sides. The first penalty of the game was only awarded in the 17th minute.
As both coaches went to their benches for the first time, the game began to slow down and as the rains increased, so did the errors, slowing down the game even further.
It took till the 29th minute for the Tigers to open the scoring with an Esan Marsters penalty goal. This was followed up quickly by a try to Corey Thompson in the corner. It was great vision by Farah to see that David Fusitu’a had rushed up out of position. Farah flung a cut-out ball wide to Thompson who scored untouched.
Robert Jennings went on to score just before halftime, giving the Tigers a 12-0 lead at halftime that did not really reflect the closeness of the first half.
The Warriors soaked up some pressure from the Tigers early in the first half, before hitting back through Ken Maumalo in the 45th minute. Adam Keighran converted the try to make the scores 12-6, and it looked like the Warriors were about to mount a serious comeback.
Unfortunately, a string of errors, penalties and poor defence gifted the Tigers the ascendancy in the game, as they went on to score 4 unanswered tries in the remainder of the second half – including a repeat effort from Thompson courtesy of a Farah cut-out pass and an identical Fusitu’a defensive lapse, as well as a Farah barge-over from dummy half.
After a promising start to the season against the Bulldogs, and the first half of this game, the Warriors will be extremely disappointed with how it turned out. They never looked likely after the 45th minute, and they gave the Tigers every opportunity to dominate, which they did because they look to be a very good side this year.
Wests, while being ecstatic with a 2-0 start to the season, will certainly not be getting carried away with their results so far. They began last year in a similar fashion, only to fall away later in the season and miss the finals.
Given the arrivals midway through last year of Robbie Farah and Moses Mbye, the stability they now possess in key positions means they are primed for better things this year. However, there is still plenty of work to be done, and the question over Josh Reynolds’ involvement in the side remains.
An Origin series-winning half (one of the few in existence for NSW), he is clearly way too good for reserve grade, as evidenced by his 2 try and 4 try-assist effort in the Canterbury Cup earlier today. Michael Maguire needs to figure out quickly where Josh Reynolds fits into his plans – he is too valuable a resource not to be used at all.
Wests Tigers 34
New Zealand Warriors 6
Round 2 will see the New Zealand Warriors travel to Australia for the first time this season to face a Wests Tigers side coming off a gutsy wet-weather win against a woeful Manly Sea Eagles. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog, starting from 6:10pm AEDT.
Torrential rain ruined the first half of the Tigers/Sea Eagles game, with no tries scored and both sides coughing up plenty of possession.
The rain largely stopped in the second half, with the Tigers proving to be the better side running in three tries to one to win 20-8.
The Warriors played the Bulldogs in Round 1. The Bulldogs were awful and the Warriors rightfully put them to the sword 40-6.
The game stared off a fairly tight arm wrestle, before the injection of Jazz Tevaga, Sam Lisone, and new recruit Leeson Ah Mau from the bench swung the game well and truly in the Warriors’ favour.
These three players had an immense impact, and with the addition of Isaiah Papali’i to the bench at the expense of Blake Ayshford, the Warriors’ bench is even more powerful than last week.
The Tigers though have plenty of fire of their own on their bench, with experienced campaigners Russell Packer, Josh Aloiai and Michael Chee-Kam, as well as second-gamer Thomas Mikaele – the 190cm, 109kg 21-year-old front rower.
It’ll be very interesting to see which team gains the ascendancy after the 20-minute mark when both coaches go to their benches.
The battle between former teammates Ah Mau and Packer (who were the Dragons’ front rowers just a few years ago) will be quite intriguing, with both players known for finding their hands and knees in the tackle for a quick play-the-ball more often than not.
Both sides have named key players on their extended benches who could come into the side. The Tigers have captain and fullback Moses Mbye in the No.18 jumper, who would likely come into the side Paul Momirovski, with Corey Thompson pushing from fullback to wing and Mahe Fonua moving into the centres.
The Warriors have named Issac Luke in the number 22 jumper. It’s unclear whether or not he would come straight into the starting side in a straight swap for Nathaniel Roache, or if he would come onto the bench at the expense of one of the forwards – most likely Papali’i as he didn’t play last week.
This also begs the question whether or not Luke would be expected to play the full 80 minutes. Either way, the Warriors will certainly be better off for his inclusion in the side, as will the Tigers for that of Mbye.
It’s hard to go past the Warriors after last week. On their day, the outside backs – particularly David Fusitu’a, Ken Maumalo and Solomone Kata – set such a strong platform, which takes a lot of pressure off the forwards. Their bench too, as mentioned above, is very strong.
However, as always, the question with the Warriors is will this be their day? I’m saying yes – but not with much confidence.
The Tigers will pose a much bigger challenge to the Warriors than the Bulldogs did last week. They have strike weapons all over the park, two experienced game managers in Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah, and a bit of x-factor and unpredictability in Luke Brooks (and Mbye if he plays).
But if the Warriors show up ready to play, their forwards should account for the Tigers’ forwards, giving Blake Green and Adam Keighran more time and space in which to operate than their opposites would have.
Warriors by 12 – although it really could go either way.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 6:10pm AEDT.
Where: Campbelltown Sports Stadium
When: 6:10pm AEDT
TV: Fox Sports
Streaming: Kayo Sports
1 Corey Thompson 2 Mahe Fonua 3 Paul Momirovski 4 Esan Marsters 5 Robert Jennings 6 Benji Marshall 7 Luke Brooks 8 Ben Matulino 9 Robbie Farah 10 Alex Twal 11 Ryan Matterson 12 Luke Garner 13 Elijah Taylor.
Interchange: 14 Russell Packer 15 Thomas Mikaele 16 Josh Aloiai 17 Michael Chee-Kam.
Reserves: 18 Moses Mbye 19 Josh Reynolds 20 Matt Eisenhuth 21 Chris McQueen
New Zealand Warriors
1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c) 2 David Fusitu’a 3 Peta Hiku 4 Solomone Kata 5 Ken Maumalo 6 Adam Keighran 7 Blake Green 8 Agnatius Paasi 9 Nathaniel Roache 10 Bunty Afoa 11 Adam Blair 12 Tohu Harris 13 Lachlan Burr.
Interchange: 14 Jazz Tevaga 15 Sam Lisone 16 Leeson Ah Mau 17 Isaiah Papali’i.
Reserves: 18 Gerard Beale Chanel Harris-Tavita 22 Issac Luke 23 Ligi Sao