39 hours ago
Defence is our priority - Sheens
They have scored 50 points in their first finals appearance, have made more line breaks than any other NRL side and are dazzling their opponents with their exciting style of attacking play.
But as far as the Wests Tigers are concerned, the key to victory in their semi-final against Brisbane at Aussie Stadium today comes down to a sngle word - defence.
The Tigers are second only to Parramatta for the number of points and tries scored this season, but are ranked 14th for offloads conceded and 11th in the missed tackles department.
Tigers coach Tim Sheens said the most pleasing aspect of the 50-6 win over North Queensland in their maiden semi-final appearance last weekend was not the amount of points scored, but how few were conceded.
"When you're switched on, you go forward and make tackles - that's what we did," Sheens said.
"Against the Cowboys we came forward and made the early tackles dominant and it gave us a chance to come forward on their key players.
"I refer to attitude - if you're fired up and ready to play, generally one on one you can make your tackles.
"You like to dominate as much as you can, and if that means putting numbers in, you do, every club does."
The Broncos have been more consistent defensively than the Tigers this season, ranked fourth in the league for points conceded (20.3 per game) and tries let in (3.6 per game).
But the most worrying defensive stat for the visitors is their inability to wrap up the ball carrier, ranking last for the amount of offloads conceded (19.4) and missed tackles (41.7).
Any misses could prove costly against the Tigers, a team which thrives on second-phase play and will look to work over the bigger and less mobile Broncos forwards.
"Our forwards especially stood up on the weekend and built the platform for us to play some footy late in the game," said Tigers fullback Brett Hodgson, who this week extended his contract with the joint-venture club until the end of the 2008 season.
"That's the key again this week and it doesn't matter how you throw the ball around, if your defence isn't there you are going to lose "If the opportunities come up for myself and the smaller men to do some things around the rucks then we'll certainly try to take that opportunity."
The Tigers have managed just one win and a draw in 11 head-to-head meetings with Brisbane, but the Broncos are struggling for confidence after dropping their past six matches.
Brisbane veteran Darren Smith said his forwards had to match the speed and stamina of the Tigers pack.
"You'd have to be disappointed if you had any gas spare at the end of the game," Smith said.
"We'll have to play until we've spent everything, put your hand up, have a breather and come back on again because they will play it fast.
"They're a team I love watching, they're a great attacking team and you can see them enjoying their footy."