The Wests Tigers win over the Gold Coast Titans tonight sets them up nicely for a Top 4 finish to 2010 as the barren West gets ready to finally have a crack at the NRL finals after a 5 year hiatus.
When you check their run home, Wests Tigers face the Cowboys at home, Manly away, Sharks at home, Away to Bunnies, Home to Penrith, Away to Eels, Away to Storm and finishing with an Away game to the Titans in what should be a firey rematch.
On current form and injury permitting of those games, the Tigers should get at least 8 points. Placing them on 32 points at the end of the regular season. While their for and against isn’t ideal – you can expect Wests to slot into 4th or 5th position – giving them a real crack at making the big one.
The real positive for the Tigers remains in their ability to grind out the close ones of late. Again tonight they weren’t at their glittering best, but they managed to sneak away with the tight win.
It’s a case of exact opposite for the Titans. The Gold Coast were winning all the close ones at the start of the season but seem to have been slipping in past weeks.
When comparing the Wests Tigers of 2010 with 2009 – most will point to their high profile recruitment of Lote Tiquiri and sure, the return of Lote has been extremely handy for the Tigers.
Tiquiri has slotted in nicely and once again shown his ability in the 13 man game is none too diminished.
But the forgotten men are Liam Fulton and Daniel Fitzhenry. The experienced men returned home to the Tigers after time in the UK and their impact is not to be underestimated.
Both reliable, honest players – they are coaches players. They’ll get out there and do what Sheens needs. The veteran coach knows with players like these two, the job will be done with a minimum of fuss.
The Tigers have had their fair share of injuries in 2010, with Tuiaki ruled out for the year at an early stage. Moltzen having problems of his own and the on-going problems with Keith Galloway along with import Jason Cayless haven’t helped either.
Yet Wests remain ideally poised on the NRL ladder.
Icing the cake for their roster has probably been the closeness of the group. After a horror loss to Souths earlier in the year, it was battle-stations for the young Western Sydney club.
The media hounded coach and players, suggesting a fall out between Sheens and key men Marshall and possibly Farah.
The barbs may have stung at the time, but while quickly shrugged off by all and sundry – the Tigers have seemingly developed a closer bond, thumbing their noses at the gossipers and talking with their football.
As they say, tough times never last – but tough people do. Surely Tim Sheens could relate to this and the same can be said about his team it seems.