It wasn’t pretty, it was really ugly, but a win is a win. The Wests Tigers have come from behind late to secure two crucial competition points, defeating the Bulldogs 29 to 28 at Bankwest Stadium.
The problems of the squad were front and centre for all to see, giving up 5 tries to the Bulldogs but credit has to go to the team for not giving up and pushing right until the end to find a way to win.
Hopefully, this win can be the confidence boost that the team needs to finish the season strongly.
The Tigers can’t buy a repeat set to save their lives
For another week, the Tigers have failed to register a goal-line drop-out. It cost the Tigers big time in the second half when they got some good field position but couldn’t build pressure in the Bulldogs line.
The Bulldogs were then able to run down the field and go ahead. With the 2019 season fast fading away, last tackle options are something the team desperately needs to improve at if they want to beat the best teams.
If the answer isn’t in the squad, then the Tigers need to recruit a playmaker if they’re any chance of making the finals in 2021.
Lapses in defense are still very poor especially in the middle of the field
Honestly, what is it with this squad and defensive lapses. The Tigers almost managed to throw the game away to the team running dead-last.
Whether it was the terrible defense in the middle of the field or an inability to wrap the ball up on the goal-line, the Bulldogs tore up the Tigers with some soft tries.
It’s such a contrast to the first half of the season where the Tigers were good at getting in the grind. Whether it’s an inability to do the job or an attitude problem, Michael Maguire has his work cut out for him with this squad.
Mistakes at crucial moments when the Bulldogs had possession let the team down which might be down to a concentration issue for the team.
Credit to Moses Mbye
Fair play to Moses Mbye today, he played well. I’m usually the first to be critical of the Queensland player but today he stepped up with his goal kicking and leadership on the field.
Mbye kicked 4 from 5 goals, including a crucial conversion from the sideline to level the scores up in the last 10 minutes. Hopefully, Mbye gained confidence from this game and continues to improve on his goal-kicking.
Great to see Jacob Liddle play well
It sure was great to see Jacob Liddle coming back from that nasty knee injury suffered 12 months ago. Apart from the poor miss on Jack Cogger which can be put down to being rusty after months on the sideline, I thought Liddle was one of the Tigers best.
The Hooker topped the tackle count, gave good service from dummy half, and engaged the markers well. Liddle also looked very confident running out of dummy half which is great to see.
If Jacob Liddle can step up for the rest of the season and avoid injuries, it’ll make the loss of harry Grant a little easier for Tigers fans to take.
Hopefully, the confidence boost that Luke Brooks needs
Benji Marshall had some classy touches in the first half but I don’t think Luke Brooks had a good game until the very end.
Brooks managed to hit a very clutch field-goal securing the win for the Tigers and hopefully this is the boost of confidence that the young play-makers need to get his career back on track.
The Tiger’s future success is certainly linked to the form of Brooks as the Halfback of the team.
Great games from Josh Aloiai, Luciano Leilua, and David Nofoaluma
Josh Aloiai had one of his strongest games for the club in the front row. The Samoan international has turned into a leader of the team and the most consistent forward in 2020.
The big man ran for 209 meters from 18 runs and made 36 tackles with no misses. With Thomas Mikaele being ruled out mid-week with injury, Aloiai along with Packer the only Props on the team and both needed to rise to the occasion which Josh certainly did.
What’s even more impressive is that Aloiai charged out of the line to put pressure on Jack Cogger when the Bulldogs were trying to get 7 points up.
If the Samoan international never made this effort, Cogger might have made the field-goal. These kinds of efforts and performances are what all the Tigers players need to aim for when they put on the jersey.
Luciano Leilua continued his impressive run of form against the Bulldogs. The Samoan international was so damaging with the ball on the edge and when the Tigers had momentum, he looked unstoppable.
It excites me to think about how good Luciano will be when the Tigers begin to dominate in the middle of the field because he’s a genuine mismatch for opposition halves and Jack Cogger found out the hard way on Sunday.
2020 has certainly been a breakout season for David Nofoaluma. I nearly forgot to write about how well the Magpies junior played because fans have just come to expect these kinds of performances.
Nofoaluma registered a monster 257 meters from 21 runs and 14 tackle breaks, 3 line breaks, 1 try, 1 try assist and 1-line break assist against the Bulldogs which is insane.
There’s no doubt that Nofoaluma is one of the in-form wingers in the competition and the Tigers are lucky to have him in the team.
Adam Doueihi’s future at the club is at five-eight
Adam Doueihi continued to provide a mixed bag in his performance against the Bulldogs. A lovely cut out pass to Nofoaluma which led to Garner’s try was very classy, but Doueihi continued to struggle in terms of making on one try-saving tackle when the Bulldogs made line-breaks and looked too slow to cover.
Doueihi no doubt is a very important player for the club going forward and has shown he has talent, but I think his days in the 1 jersey are limited.
I think going into 2021, Doueihi will be moved into the halves partnering Luke Brooks.
The Lebanese player has all the skill to replace Marshall and will hopefully continue to grow and get stronger. The Canberra Raiders had a similar problem with Jack Wighton.
Wighton who’s a big human could not beat the speedier outside backs when he played Fullback.
When Wighton moved to five-eight in 2019 and closer to the middle of the field, he was able to use his attributes to beat the bigger and slower defenders and turned into an Origin star.
I 100 percent believe that Doueihi could have a similar transformation if given an off-season to work on the transition to the halves.
Image: Wests Tigers