Brendan Wood previews the first Friday night clash between the Wests Tigers and the New Zealand Warriors. This is what we have to look forward to.
The Tigers were left licking their wounds after going down 26-16 to Parramatta last week in a very physical encounter. They showed some grit in defence but ultimately were outclassed by the Eels, with former Tiger Mitchell Moses returning from injury to haunt his old club with a brilliant chip and chase try. Despite the loss, they got a glimpse at the future of first game youngster Shawn Blore, who stood up well to the challenges of Eels enforcer Nathan Brown. In the week prior, the Tigers proved they can score plenty of points when they hammered the hapless Broncos 48-0 at Leichhardt Oval. They currently sit in 9th position.
The Warriors saw a major improvement in effort last week. Despite losing to defending premiers 18-10, they were right in the game from the start and pushed the Roosters right until fulltime. Granted, the Roosters suffered a few injuries, however the performance will surely have pleased coach Todd Payten considering they had the lead for most of the game. An eight point loss was much easier to cop than the 46-10 thrashing they suffered at the hands of the Sharks the week before. They currently sit in 13th position.
1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Chris Lawrence 4. Moses Mbye 5. Tommy Talau 6. Billy Walters 7. Benji Marshall 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Oliver Clark 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal Bench: 14. Sam McIntyre 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Luke Brooks 17. Shawn Blore Reserves: 18. Josh Reynolds 19. Chris McQueen 20. Alex Seyfarth 21. Asu Kepaoa.
Alex Twal makes his return from a knee injury at lock, with Luke Garner also returning from concussion in the back row. Oliver Clark starts in the front row for Russell Packer who is suspended one game after a crusher tackle on Clint Gutherson. Michael Chee-Kam is out after suffering a nasty head knock last week. Matt Eisenhuth drops out of the team with Thomas Mikaele returning on the bench.
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Patrick Herbert 3. Adam Pompey 4. Peta Hiku 5. George Jennings 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Blake Green 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Karl Lawton 10. Jack Hetherington 11. Eliesa Katoa 12. Tohu Harris 13. Jazz Tevaga Bench: 14. Wayde Egan 15. Adam Blair 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Lachlan Burr Reserves: 18. Isaiah Papali’i 20. Adam Keighran 21. Jack Murchie 23. Josh Curran.
David Fusitu’a and Ken Maumalo are out and have returned to New Zealand to spend time with their families. This moves Patrick Herbert to one wing and Eels loan player George Jennings starts on the other wing. Fellow Eels loan player Daniel Alvaro replaces Isiah Papali’i on the bench, while Wade Egan returns from injury on the bench also, replacing Chanel Harris-Tevita.
Since 1998, these teams have played each other 30 times and the head to head is close. 16 wins to the Tigers, 14 to the Warriors. The Tigers also have the wood over the Warriors recently, winning four of their last five meetings.
There is a huge contrast between the two sides when it comes to attacking potency. The Tigers have scored almost double the amount of points the Warriors have this year, outscoring them 261 to 137 through 11 rounds.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Benji Marshall vs Blake Green. Two veteran halfbacks in the twilight of their careers facing off against one another. Both players are integral pieces in the puzzle for their respective sides and both will have a huge role to play in the eventual outcome of this game.
Benji Marshall continues to prove he still has what it takes to be one of the top halfbacks in the competition even at the age of 35. Despite being dropped from the side for several weeks by coach Michael Maguire, Marshall has bounced back in recent weeks to prove the importance of his leadership and experience to this Tigers team can’t be understated.
Blake Green is another veteran halfback who continues to defy his doubters at the age of 34. Under the pressure of not playing at home for the remainder of the year, Green has led from the front with his organisational play and consistency week in week out. With several Warriors players heading home to spend time with their families, look for Green to provide a cool head and steady hand in attack.
Both teams are coming off very physical battles with top four opponents in the Eels and Roosters last week. The Tigers will take their home game to the SCG, where the Warriors have only played one game previously and lost.
Couple this with the fact the Warriors have lost their two starting wingers in Ken Maumalo and David Fusitu’a, the Tigers should be able to score plenty of points out wide and have shown enough starch in defence recently to blunt most of the attacking opportunities the Warriors can muster.
Tigers by 12.
Date: Friday 31 July 2020
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG)