In a high scoring game the Wests Tigers continued to display their exciting brand of attack-based footy that was too much for the Sea Eagles to handle.
Blues jersey calling for Tedesco
James Tedesco showed why recent rumours surrounding him being Laurie Daley’s first choice fullback for NSW were completely well founded by carving the Manly defence to shreds. He scored the first hat-trick of his career, busted 8 tackles and demonstrated some superb passing skills, throwing a number of well timed cut-out passes to put his wingers into space and setting up a try for Jordan Rankin. Every run he took whether from kick returns or sweep plays he looked threatening and will have become a major point of focus for future teams going up against the Tigers.
His performances in the first two rounds have made him a clear standout to earn his maiden NSW callup and with the Blues in need of a shakeup, a ball playing fullback with a knack for busting tackles like Tedesco is exactly who NSW needs to start building a new team of the future.
Manly combinations not gelling fast enough
It is still early days yet but Manly are still a fair way away from forming a cohesive unit and will be hoping they’re able to fix things quick before things start to look bleak. Dylan Walker’s new role at 5/8 has him defending closer to the middle and their left edge defence lacked communication and structure. Matai and Taufua often found themselves further infield than they needed to be Tigers were able to exploit their errors in positioning to score five tries down that edge of the field. In total the Sea Eagles have conceded 12 tries in their past two games and they have to find a way to stop the flow of points if they’re any chance of living up to the pre-season hype.
There were some positive signs though, they were able to tie the game at 16-all with a try shortly after half-time and Martin Taupau prospered in his move to the edges, who engaged in an onfield battle with his former halves teammate Mitchell Moses. Taupau came up short on one tackle but got the better of him every other occasion, bowling over him for 3 line breaks, 11 tackle busts and an impressive solo try.
Penalty goals the new flavour of the month
It seems to be a recurring trend for teams over the past two weeks of the NRL season to take the 2 points whenever possible and Manly decided to take the same route. Gifted a penalty on the Tigers tryline within the first 5 minutes, the Sea Eagles opted to kick for goal instead of piling on the pressure and potentially scoring a try. Much like the Dragons a day earlier this decision turned out to be far from a wise one as Tigers got off to another red hot start piling on 3 tries in 20 minutes before Manly could reply.
This increasingly popular tactic was often utilized last year by the Broncos and now other teams look to be emulating this style of play, informally known as Bennett Ball. Not all teams are as good at it as others are though and whoever makes the decision to take the 2 should probably start to re-consider whether the points on offer are really worth taking.
Poor Brayden Williame
Manly winger Brayden Williame now has an unpleasant record of 13 losses for 0 wins in the top grade. At a point like that one can’t help but wonder if there’s a curse hanging over them and how far away he is from becoming an unwanted part of Rugby League history. With a return date for Brett Stewart not clear as of yet, Williame will be savouring every game he gets as a chance to turn his luck around and get a maiden first grade win.
IN THE SHEDS
Curtis Sironen- Sironen came off the field after10 minutes with a hamstring complaint. He has not been named in the Tigers 17 this week but it’s unknown how long his injury will keep him out for.
Wests Tigers- 36
Tries: David Nofoaluma (5m, 58m), Kevin Naqima (20m), James Tedesco (23m, 70m, 78m), Jordan Rankin (50m)
Goals: Mitchell Moses 4/7
Sea Eagles- 22
Tries: Lewis Brown (32m), Dylan Walker (37m), Jorge Taufua (42m), Martin Taupau (73m)
Goals: Jamie Lyon 3/4