Tiger Tough, Wests get over Cronulla 20-16

Wests Tigers NRL Round 7 2008The Wests Tigers have not only got themselves back on the front foot and re-started their winning ways, but they look to have a well balanced team unit with the likes of Matt Head, Keith Galloway and Chris Lawrence forging a new frontier for the young club. Getting over the Sharks by 20-14 was impressive enough considering it was in the Shire, but whats even more gobsmacking is that the Tigers can play much better – but they still got the win.

Chris Lawrence continues to confirm his arrival as the next NRL superstar, the young gun remains an explosive outside force and has gotten the Tigers out of trouble on several occasions now. With the experienced Matt Head recovering each week from major injury – his coolness under pressure and a deft kicking game has really helped the Tigers become a force this year and with every win the confidence continues to bubble over for the joint venture side.

Benji Marshall made a safe, but low impact return from injury. Coach Tim Sheens confirming this morning on the Big Sports Breakfast that he is awaiting medical assessments on the status of Marshall’s knee and hinting that he may rest Benji this week for the Broncos game – depending on the report from his medical staff.

The Sharks dominated the early passages of play yesterday but paid dearly for their inability in attack as the Tigers out-scored their hosts four tries to two.

Lawrence bagged his second try of the game in the 76th minute to give the Tigers their fourth win of the season after Cronulla seemed to have secured the two points when Luke Covell kicked a penalty goal to give the home side a two-point lead.

Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens was at a loss to explain just how his side had claimed their ninth consecutive victory against Cronulla, but “filthy” Sharks captain Paul Gallen was soon on hand to enlighten him.

“We beat ourselves,” Gallen said after the Sharks blew a wealth of scoring opportunities in the first half to slump to their second consective defeat at Toyota Park after beginning the season with four wins from five games on the road.

“I’m just filthy.

“We’re a good team and … I think the three games we’ve lost, I don’t think the other team’s played better than us.

“We just killed ourselves. It was something I thought we learned from last year, but today and last week it showed we’ve fallen back a little bit.”

The Tigers were woeful in the opening 30 minutes despite the return of Benji Marshall from a five-week knee injury lay-off.

Yet they somehow held the misfiring Sharks to just one try before scoring two themselves in the final eight minutes to claim a surprise 8-6 half-time lead.

Brett Kearney opened the scoring for Cronulla, after a break from Brett Kimmorley, but the expected avalanche failed to materialise and Chris Heighington got the visitors on the scoreboard when he tunnelled over from dummy-half in the 32nd minute.

The visitors then went ahead three minutes from the break when full-back and captain Brett Hodgson sent Lawrence striding 40 metres untouched to the line.

Covell slotted a penalty goal to level the scores soon after the break, but Hodgson gave the Tigers the lead again, in the 54th minute, when he dummied his way through some disorganised Sharks defence to score.

Cronulla half-back Brett Seymour did likewise for Cronulla to tie the game again, at 14-14, before Covell’s penalty goal in the 68th minute out the Sharks ahead.

But just as the Sharks appeared set to claim their fifth win of the season by six points or less, Lawrence touched down a tidy Mathew Head grubber for his second try of the match to seal victory in the 76th minute.

“I don’t know how we won that game to be quite honest,” the bemused but delighted Sheens said.

“We won it, lost it, did some silly things. Everything that could happen, did happen. The ball hit the crossbar and bounced back. We hit the upright twice (from conversions). You name it, it happened.

“But the guys showed courage and, at the end of the day, winning ugly is still winning isn’t it?

“It’s still two points and they’re two vital points, particularly in back-to-back games for us.

“Last year we would have lost these games, so for us this was probably back to ’05 (when the Tigers won the premiership).”

Sheens was concerned, however, with his team’s slow start, just a week after spotting South Sydney a 10-point advantage before running down the Bunnies.

“Like last week, we just didn’t start well so it’s a concern,” Sheens said.

“I don’t want to start poorly against the Broncos next week, I can tell you.”

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