Crikey Sports introduces Pat Byrne, project manager and sports fan who, in conjunction with Crikey Sports, will be publishing a weekly column where he thinks outside the square in bringing you the game of the week as he sees it … in a box…

Pat Byrne, blogger and “Game-in-a-box” creator writes:

After being beaten by the Bulldogs last week and the Sea Eagles in round two, the Sydney Roosters would have been determined to get this game over a weakened Wests Tigers.

Wests Tigers, coming off a win in round three against the Raiders and a win against the Warriors in round two had a different outlook for this game I suspect. They were a weakened side with a few injuries, including Lote Tuquiri. But there was none worse than that horrible hip dislocation of Chris Lawrence against the Raiders last week ….ouch! They would have been hoping to get away with a win despite this but perhaps knowing it would be tough against a hurting Roosters.

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I haven’t seen a game start like this one did so far this season. Some end to end stuff. In the second minute there was an amazing break by the Tigers from their 20 metre line but the Roosters held them up over the line. I am amazed at the ability players have to do this these days ….and it happens so frequently. The same in some ways goes for getting the ball down to score despite the odds. And no better example than when the Roosters’ Shaun Kenny-Dowall, in the fifth minute, got over from 18 metres out. Despite being brought down by three players, he was able to put his big right paw out through the tacklers and plop the ball down over the line!

But in that first half, it was all the Roosters. I know for a fact that if a team gets over the 20% mark for dominance, they will almost inevitably win.  In this case, the Roosters dominated the first half at over 25% and so deservedly were 12 points up at the break.

The Tigers came out in the second half a more determined outfit, and Benji Marshall put on some wizardry, but apart from the score early in the half, where on the back of a second set of six, the Tigers went over near the right post, there wasn’t much to roar about. I (and everybody else probably) was waiting for the Tigers to come back as they can score at any time including against the run of play and dominance. For instance, last season about the same time, I recorded this game against the Raiders:

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In this game the Tigers were literally hammered by the Raiders. But a couple of tries against the flow of the game, kept the Tigers in the game for the first half. During the second half, although they didn’t dominate until the latter part, they caught and then smashed the Raiders in the end. It was a hugely dominant game by Benji Marshall and I was expecting something similar with this game against the Roosters. Always expecting the Tigers to break the shackles and pluck the Roosters. Whenever the Tigers play, that is always a possibility. It makes them so entertaining to watch — real seat of your pants stuff. Tim Sheens, their coach, must have heart problems I am sure.

And when Anthony Minichiello got sin-binned for ten minutes in the seventy-first minute of the game for deliberately raking the ball out, I thought here is the Tigers’ chance. Around nine minutes to go and the Roosters with one man down. Benji can do this. But it wasn’t going to happen. The Roosters defence held and when Todd Carney got the ball about 40 metres out from an inside pass from Pearce who got an outside ball from the dummy half, it was well and truly over.

In the end, the Tigers weren’t going to do what they did to the Raiders this time last year. The Roosters deserved the win and played a very tough, in your face game. The Roosters 10% dominance of the game overall was probably generous to the Tigers. But the score was about right: 24 to 6.

A light note. Todd Carney in the forty-seventh minute made a break and absolutely cleaned out the ref, Tony Archer. Archer took it well and although Carney was apologising to him at the first opportunity, Archer would have none of it. He was in the way and Carney had nothing to apologise for. Wonderful refereeing attitude.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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