Many expected an under pressure Wests Tigers to come out firing, but the early rounds went to the Knights at a wet and slippery EnergyAustralia Stadium. But despite a strong effort, the Knights went down 23-6 against a reinvented Tigers side.
A good crowd, along with Channel 9’s new 3D cameras were on hand for this game. The 3D Video Cameras out for testing purposes prior to the Harvey Norman State of Origin series on Wednesday – the first global Rugby League game to be shown on television in 3D.
The tone was set for this game in the first few tackles, there was plenty at stake.
Ben Cross smashing into a Chris Heinington tackle and sending the stocky Tigers forward hurling backwards.
With Mullen and Gidley missing, it seemed the Knights might not have enough creativity – but Ben Rogers quickly erased any worries, the underrated pivot turning on some light stepping and acceleration to score a hot 40m solo try.
Gee Ben Rogers is good when in form. The former Panthers and Souths half option is quick around the ruck and has a good kicking game.
Rogers showed his flashy side, but the nuggety player can roll the sleeves up and get things done when needed.
The Tigers were under pressure when Rogers crossed early, but when they finally got some field position – Robert Lui turned back a nice inside ball for Gareth Ellis to crash over from 10m.
Ellis running hard and straight and never looking like being stopped from that range. The Wests Tigers were probably guilty of putting to much pressure on their own no.6 Benji Marshall – the New Zealand star was doing everything for his side.
Farah and Lui were probably guilty of standing back, with Marshall getting the ball early on most attacking occasions.
The match-ups on the fringe were exciting to watch, the clash of Fiji with young Uate up against his childhood hero Lote Tiquiri.
Uate was burning Tiquiri for speed at every chance, with the Knights smartly kicking to the corner early in the tackle count – looking for Uate and Vuna to burn up the turf. It nearly worked, with both wingers just missing close chances.
Young Uate was interesting to watch. The Fiji kid patting Tiquiri on the back everytime the pair came together.
On the Vuna wing, the bulky flyer was helped by the big rangy Cory Patterson. He has really comeback well Patterson, proving tough to stop and always getting his big left claw free to offload.
But this was building as an arm-wrestle. Both sides going into the sheds 6-6 at half time.
The words arm-wrestle and Tigers don’t always go together, regardless of what Sheens said at halftime – his side came out to throw the ball around in the second term.
Despite more rain and heavy storms, the Tigers put together some crisp short passing at speed – in heavy traffic centre field to bust the Knights wide open.
They scored from the next set, the Tigers going ahead 10-4.
But the lightning and thunder turned lethal, with torrential rain stifling any chance of more flair from either side. So bad was the thunder storm and rain, few could remember conditions this bad for an NRL match.
Robert Lui was playing smart in the wet, the rookie half unlike Benji and Farah – was chosing to play for field position. Lui was toning down the usual Tigers flair and helping them get repeat sets while the tough conditions continued.
When Lui ran a play it was so much more relaxed. Benji is brilliant, sure, but he was running too hot, his passing and kicking choices risky, poor and costly – at times cost the Tigers had field position and were poised to strike.
Benji must be frustrating for Tigers fans at times, he is always trying hard, but he needs to curb his flair in certain situations. Your winning by 6 points, in horrible conditions with just over 10 minutes to go.
Kick for touch, play smart, play safe.
Yet Benji continued to throw the ball around with gay abandon – costing his team possession and field position.
The Knights on the other hand were having their own problems. Some tough luck on 50/50 calls from referee Jason Robinson and some poor kicking, they just couldn’t get back to back sets.
It seemed the tackling done by the Knights was draining so much petrol, they had nothing left in the gas tank at the death. Wests had near 60 percent possession in this game and it was certainly telling on their opponents.
The Wests side decided they wouldn’t take any more chances, Benji Marshall curbing his game for a minute – to kick a field goal on the 70 minute mark. Giving them the 7 point lead.
Newcastle got a late shot, but to their credit the Wests Tigers on-line defence really stood up. They were nothing like the side that got tanned by 40 points a week ago.
To ice the cake, a Farah 40/20 inside the final minutes gave Wests another shot. With the comfort of the field goal, they cruised over for the try and it was all over. But another late touchdown to Daniella really blew the score out.
The Tigers home 23-6 and restoring some credibility to their season. After several weeks of losses, Sheens’ men bounced back.