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Tigers say farewell to big names as Warriors look to avoid nine-straight losses
It will be an emotional outing for the Tigers on Sunday as they say goodbye to star players James Tedesco and Aaron Woods. Therefore, Ivan Cleary's men will not be short of motivation to collect the two points on Sunday afternoon as Tedesco and Woods line up in Tigers colours for the last time at Leichhardt Oval. Cleary would be pleased with his side's efforts in the past fortnight, going down to the high-flying Roosters 22-18 before being run down by a desperate Cowboys outfit 22-14 last week. While Tigers fans may fancy their chances this week, it will not be easy as it seems with Matt McIlwrick and Michael Chee-Kam both missing through suspension while Luke Brooks and Elijah Taylor may be late withdrawals through injury.
However, if the Warriors turn up with the same attitude that they have had at every away game this season, it will be a straightforward result. Stephen Kearney's men have managed just one victory from 12 games away from Mt. Smart Stadium this year and that was against the lowly Titans. It will be even more difficult for the Warriors to claim an unlikely away win this week given that the Tigers have won six of their past eight at their spiritual home Leichhardt Oval. The frustrating season for the New Zealand-based side continued last week with an agonising 22-21 loss to Manly in Golden Point. The Warriors appeared set for a stunning victory, leading the Sea Eagles 21-14 with four minutes remaining. However, in typical ‘Warriors' fashion, the side conceded seven late points to send the game to Golden Point and Daly Cherry-Evans would kick the match-winning field goal to seal a disappointing result for Kearney's team. However, given their previous efforts, Kearney certainly would have seen promising signs in that defeat. They will have to be even better this week though, with halves Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran both ruled out on Saturday.
Last meeting: Round 25 2016 - Warriors 24 Wests Tigers 36
The Warriors conceded three tries in the final nine minutes to collapse to a 36-24 defeat in Round 25 last year at Mt. Smart Stadium.
Who to watch: In his final game in Tigers colours, look out for a big performance from prop Aaron Woods. Woods has been stepping up in recent weeks and will look to replicate his last performance against the Warriors on Sunday afternoon. In their Round 25 clash last year, Woods ran for 185 metres but also managed an unlikely try and try-assist.
Meanwhile, all eyes will be on fill-in halves Mason Lino and Ata Hingano on Sunday afternoon. If the Warriors are any hope of salvaging a miraculous win on Sunday they will need the rookie halves pairing to stand up in the absence of Johnson and Foran.
My tip: The Warriors simply cannot be trusted away from home despite last week's improvement. The Tigers will be emotionally motivated to take this one and should be too good for a Warriors side minus Johnson and Foran. Wests Tigers by 16.
1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Esan Marsters 4. Kevin Naiqama 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. Tuimoala Lolohea 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 17. Jack Littlejohn 10. Tim Grant 11. Joel Edwards 12. Josh Aloiai 13. Matthew Eisenhuth 14. Alex Twal 15. Sauaso Sue 16. Bayley Sironen 19. Jeremy Marshall-King
1. Roger Tuivasa-sheck 2. David Fusitua 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Solomone Kata 5. Ken Maumalo 14. Mafoa'aeata Hingano 22. Mason Lino 8. Ben Matulino 9. Issac Luke 10. Sam Lisone 11. Bunty Afoa 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering 15. Charlie Gubb 16. Isaiah Papalii 17. Jazz Tevaga 18. Charnze Nicoll-klokstad