Pat Byrne, blogger and “Game-in-a-box” creator writes:
Round 24 of the season and the Wests Tigers met the Parramatta Eels at home. In Round 23, the Tigers spanked the Penrith Panthers and just scraped through by two points over the St George Illawarra Dragons. The Eels on the other hand were beaten by the Manly Sea Eagle in Round 23 and absolutely hammered by the South Sydney Rabbitohs, who put 56 points on them the week before.
The Eels were fighting to keep away from the wooden spoon and the Tigers still with a slight hope of getting into the top four.
It was the Tigers who looked a little sluggish to start but that quickly changed as the Eels made some mistakes and the Tigers hit a rhythm and started to hit their straps. First it was Lui who, after a Eels mistake, took the ball up to offload it to Ayshford who scored the first of his two in the 10th minute.
Then in the 22nd minute there was nothing really happening but then Marshall from about 35 metres out and to the left, made a quick offload to Heighington who passed quickly back inside to a flying Moltzen who went through the line to pass to Utai who scored.
The Tigers third try came from the Eels trying to cover up a Marshall kick on the 40 metre line just left of centre. Utai tackled him and managed to get the ball back to sort of “lay” it back between his legs almost Rugby Union style, to Marshall. He does his normal dummy, step, step, step to bamboozle everyone and then got away to score near the left post. It was 16 to nil at this stage and this is how it stayed for the remainder of eth half.
The Tigers dominated by more than 20% with two big waves of domination and a third lesser wave at the end of the half. Not unlike the Broncos three waves against Sharks a while back.
I was thinking the Tigers were going to go on and continue to bury the Eels but to the Eels. It wasn’t as if the Eels went up a huge notch. They didn’t, but they did get some good possession. But Tigers seemed to switch off, perhaps thinking they had already won and only needed to be in neutral.
So the Eels went in for two quick tries. The first in the 47th minute on back of penalty on far left. Then from a play the ball 10 metres out and to the left, it went to Hayne who made a long wide pass to an unmarked Hicks who went over near the right post. Their second and last try was a short while later, it was the last tackle after an ordinary set of six by the Eels. Hayne kicked it from left of the field to the right from about 20 metres out. The Tigers bombed the catch on the line and it bounced forward to Smith who juggled it a wee bit but managed to grab it and put it down over the line near the right post. It should have been “game on” from here with four points difference but it wasn’t to be. Ayshford scored his second when, from a scrum on the halfway, the Tigers went right. Ayshford got the ball and had a one-on-one with Hayne who, went for the strip. But Ayshford struggled free and got into the open to score out wide right.
The Tigers got a penalty to put them 12 points up in the 65th minute and then Farah popped over a field goal in the 76th minute to ensure the Eels had to score three times to win. The Tigers then topped it off with a try just short of the final hooter almost when Marshall got ball in the middle of the park and about 18 metres out from the Eels line. They went right, and two passes out, Ryan on the right wing found himself in the clear to go over near the right post.
In the end, the Tigers were sometimes brilliant and the Eels, although tried hard at times, often woeful. Hopefully, Kearney has something up his sleeve for next season, one of which might be getting Hayne to pick up his work rate and to keep alert after he does something instead of standing there waiting for whatever he did to pay off … which it sometimes doesn’t.
The Tigers? They can’t afford to go off the boil like they when they get to the finals. The other teams like the Storm and Broncos will put them to the sword … big time. The Tigers managed to do the Eels quickly early but went off the boil only to have to come back in the last quarter.