Round 12: Wests Tigers v Warriors preview
The Tigers aim to re-enter the top eight as they host the thirteenth placed Warriors.
The home side are coming off a tough 10-point loss to rivals the Parramatta Eels who proved just too much to handle for the joint venture. They did however, impress during periods of the match and even matched it with the Eels for the opening thirty minutes until Mitchell Moses' brilliant chip and chase try.
The loss to the Eels followed a trend for the Tigers with four of their six losses this season coming against sides that are in currently the top eight. They've found it difficult to score points against the better sides of the competition, averaging a mere 15 points a game in those four losses in comparison to their 24 points scored per game over the course of the season.
The Tigers have won five of their previous six encounters against the Warriors and a win over the New Zealand side on Friday night could propel the Tigers back into the top eight and take them out of that dreaded ninth position.
The Wests Tigers will be stoked to see Alex Twal and Luke Garner back in the starting 13 after recovering from their injuries with Matthew Eisenhuth dropping out of the 21 with injury and Sam McIntyre moving to the bench. Oliver Clark starts at prop for the suspended Russel Packer whilst Thomas Mikaele comes in for Michael Chee-Kam after his horrific head injury on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the Warriors will remain in high spirits after putting together a solid performance against the premiership favourites, the Sydney Roosters. Hosting the Roosters on the Central Coast, the Warriors even led by four points heading into the half-time break but failed to come up with any points in the second half as the tri-colours came home with an eight point victory.
It's been a tough year for the Warriors who have won just three games this season but they have shown some positive signs since Todd Payten took over, despite having won one of their five matches under the former Tiger.
The Warriors haven't beaten a side currently in the top 10 with their wins coming against the Dragons, Cowboys and the Broncos. They'll need something special from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and his men if they are to cause an upset here.
In good news for the Warriors, they do have two Parramatta reinforcements arriving at the club this week with George Jennings named on the wing and forward Daniel Alvaro named on the bench. Although, they'll be without David Fusitu'a, Ken Maumalo, Agnatius Paasi and King Vuniyayawa who have all returned home to New Zealand to reunite with their families. The only other change is Wayde Egan returning from injury who will replace Chanel Harris-Tavita on the bench.
Last meeting: Round 2 2019 - Wests Tigers 34 Warriors 6
Who to watch: The current Dally M leader, Harry Grant, who leads his Melbourne counterpart by a single vote has been the best player in the Tigers outfit during the 2020 season. On loan from Melbourne, the 22-year-old hooker has scored three tries, contributed four try assists and is responsible for two forced drop outs. Not only can he score and create tries, Grant also runs for 92 metres a game whilst making 50 tackles per game highlighting the amount of work the 11-gamer gets through. He has created a great red zone combination with back rower Luciano Leilua who will be a handle for the Warriors defence. Don't be surprised if young Grant breaks the Warriors defence wide open on multiple occasions this Friday night.
Despite having a quiet season by his standards, Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is bound to find the try line soon after having only scored a sole try so far this season. The fullback is still averaging a massive 211 run metres a game and still breaks 4.1 tackles per game. His tries scored and try assist numbers are down significantly but the Warriors could do more to get their captain involved in their red zone plays. He does a tremendous amount of work trying to bring the Warriors out of their own end, but they need to make the most of the limited time they spend in the opposition 20. The Tigers better keep a close eye on him, because if the former Dally M medallist can find himself in open space it could cause trouble.
The favourite: Both sides have only won one of their previous four games and funnily enough, each of their wins have come against the dreadful Brisbane Broncos. However, the Tigers have generally dominated when they come against the weaker sides having beaten, the Dragons, the Cowboys, the Bulldogs and the Broncos. Although they did lose to the Titans. The Tigers are the firm favourites for this clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday night.
My tip: Going off the past six weeks of the competition, the Tigers should win this convincingly. The Warriors did put in an 80 minute performance against the Roosters last week but have failed to string together two convincing performances this season. This Tigers outfit should be too strong for the depleted Warriors this week. Wests Tigers by 18.