Wests have managed to salvage something from a disappointing year as the joint-venture club managed to upset the Gold Coast Titans, sending their skipper Brett Hodgson out on a good note after winning 28-12 at Skilled Park.
Hodgson, who moves on to the UK Super League in 2009, was at his terrier best, copping plenty of treatment to his tiny frame, making try saving tackles and also potting sideline conversions and sparking the Tigers attack.
Coach Tim Sheens had nothing but kind words for the Tigers veteran fullback, Hodgson bagging himself man of the match honours and providing some consolation after missing the NRL Finals series.
“He’s a top footballer,” said Prince, who had apparently been in a ‘texting war of words’ with Hodgson all week.
“He texted me through the week and told me to test him early but after he caught a few bombs I left him alone in the second half.
“He’s lot like Presto (Titans fullback Preston Campbell).
“He’s only a small bloke but he’s inspirational.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Hodgson, the tough fullback copping a massive knock early on – but recovering to put his stamp on the game.
“The knees in the back incident where he got straight back up is indicative of the kind of person he is,” he said.
“He always gets up. He leads from the front and the players love to play with him.”
There could be a chance of Hodgson returning to the NRL field in 2011, should the body remain in tact – Hodgson hinted there could be a stint after he joins Huddersfield on a 2-year deal.
“Never say never,” the 30-year-old said.
The Tigers had this match in the bag by half time, as they raced out to an 18-0 lead and gave the home side little chance. The Titans unable to use the home crowd and final match of the season to give them some thrust.
Benji Marshall was on fire, the pivot playing out of his skin as the Tigers went on with things in the second term, getting out to a 28-6 lead after the 60 minute mark.
The Tigers now end the NRL season in 10th place and the Gold Coast Titans amazingly finish in 13th spot, after having led the competition at the 10 round mark.
Sheens said it was important for the Tigers to finish the season off with a win after yet another late-season capitulation which has become all too common since their fairytale 2005 premiership.
“We needed to win for Brett, we needed to win for the supporters and we needed something positive to take in to the off-season,” Sheens said.
“The whole season was disappointing, but it’s all about having your key people fit.
“We’re not using that as an excuse but take two of the three stars out of Melbourne and see what happens.”