The 2015 Wests Tigers caravan will roll on to Campbelltown Stadium next Saturday for its second trial – against Cronulla Sharks – full of confidence after a solid display against Parramatta Eels in Alice Springs last night.
New Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor praised his side’s defensive effort following the 20-4 win over the Eels.
Having kept the Eels scoreless for over 70 minutes, Taylor said his side will take plenty of confidence from their defensive resolve heading into next week’s trial against Cronulla.
Taylor said he thought the boys were “a bit rusty’’ in the first 20 minutes, especially in attack, but he was happy things improved from then on.
“All up, it was a good performance from the boys tonight,” he said.
“The boys were happy with it and I was happy with it as well.
“The big thing was that we worked to play the way that we’ve trained, and that’s what we did tonight and that will give the guys some real confidence.
“The boys did well in defence. It’s something that we are working on and it was a good result in that regard given how much attacking Parramatta did on the night.
“The boys will really take some confidence from this one — confidence in that what we’re working on at training is effective [and] if we do it well, we’ll get some results,” Taylor said.
It was an impressive performance from Jason Taylor’s side that saw the Eels kept scoreless for more than 70 minutes of the match, with new Wests recruits Josh Drinkwater and Kevin Naiqama dominating on the attacking end to give the visitors a 16-point win.
Parramatta threatened to post the first points of the match on several opportunities, but couldn’t do so in the first quarter. Their best chance in that time came through a line break by Luke Kelly, who tried to chip Shannon McDonnell but ran into the fullback, and Naiqama cleaned up for the visitors to ensure that the score remained 0-0 at the first quarter break.
After starting the second quarter with three repeat sets on the Eels line, it was Jason Taylor’s side who posted first points of the night, with Drinkwater throwing a lovely cut-out ball for Naiqama to score in the corner after 27 minutes.
It was forward Ava Seumanufagai who had done the damage in the build-up though, shrugging aside Isaac De Gois for a line break that put the team in great field position.
Richards couldn’t convert from out wide and the score remained 4-0.
The hosts would continue to attack Wests Tigers’ line as the half expired, but Taylor’s side’s defensive resolve would win out and keep the Eels at bay.
That would see Wests Tigers take somewhat of a surprise 4-0 lead in to the half-time sheds, with Parramatta having had the majority of the territorial advantage.
Both sides would make a number of changes at the break with some of their more experienced players taking a break, but Taylor’s side would pick up where they left off before the break — crossing for more points shortly after the break.
It was again Drinkwater heavily involved in the build-up — this time putting the ball through the line, with Delouise Hoeter adjusting quickest to dive on the loose ball in the in-goal and extend the lead to 10-0 following Richards’ conversion.
Further stiff defence from Wests Tigers would continue to frustrate the Eels as they forced errors, with Brad Arthur’s side made to pay once more in the 55th minute as some sharp work from Manaia Cherrington allowed Richards to score in the corner.
The veteran couldn’t convert through, and the lead remained 14-0.
Drinkwater continued to have a strong impact on the match, and added his third try-assist of the night when he grubbered through perfectly for Naiqama to score in the corner for his second try of the night. The former London Broncos playmaker then slotted the sideline conversion for a 20-0 lead after 64 minutes and all but seal the result.
After Naiqama narrowly missed out on grabbing his third try of the match from a Sitaleki Akauola grubber, Parramatta finally crossed for points in the 74th minute when Fabian Goodall stripped Pat Richards one-on-one in the in-goal to score in the right corner.
Kelly couldn’t convert, though, and the score remained 20-4 with five minutes to play.
Both teams would have small chances in the remaining few minutes, but wouldn’t trouble the scorers, as Wests Tigers walked away from Anzac Oval with a 20-4 win.
Tickets for next Saturday’s match against the Sharks at Campbelltown are $12, with Wests Tigers Members gaining free entry on the day.
FULL TIME — Wests Tigers 20 (Naiqama 2, Hoeter, Richards tries; Drinkwater, Richards goals) def. Parramatta Eels 4 (Goodall tries).