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Friday, 9 September 2011

NRL Finals 2011 - Wests Tigers v St.George-Illawarra Dragons 1st Qualifying Final Preview - What's The Game Plan?

2011 NRL 1st QUALIFYING FINAL
 GAME PLAN PREVIEW 
TIGERS 21 - 12 DRAGONS
7:45pm (Local) Friday 9 September @ ANZ Stadium, Sydney.
GAME STATS
NOT The Footy Show Episode 83
- Qualifying Finals Review Released September 12, 2011 -

Right Click Save Target As This Link if you don't have iTunes.
NRL Finals Week 1 Review.
The Semi Finals are under-way, so join Matthew Duncan and Warrick Nicolson as they dissect the wins by the Storm, Sea Eagles, Broncos and Tigers in the Qualifying Finals. The Cowboys and Knights are finished for 2011, but the Warriors and Dragons get a second chance - do they deserve one? 
There are audio highlights of all the games plus the best quotes from the press conferences.
Our Elimination Semi Finals Preview Podcast will be out Thursday as we look to NRL Finals Week 2.
What is the Game Plan for Friday Night Football?
Game Plan Points (outside of the obvious - make minimal mistakes, complete sets etc)
  • Kick early. Turn the Dragons around with kicks early in the tackle count in the opening stages of the game. Target Brett Morris on their left (Tigers' right side) - as Jason Nightingale and Darius Boyd are great kick-returners. Find the sideline if going opposite side of the field.
  • Robert Lui and Robbie Farah need to take responsibility for long kicks. This isn't because Benji Marshall can't kick long but he needs to be creative with the ball in hand as much as possible. If Farah's groin is up to it he needs to take late count options from dummy half and Lui the early count options. Don't overburden Benji - his game is attack, so let him attack.
  • Work the Dragons' middle third forwards over with darts from Farah and hand-offs from Marshall. Beau Scott and Ben Creagh love to defend jamming in - take them out of the game by targeting the middle third as much as possible and wear out their big props - Michael Weyman, Trent Merrin, Dan Hunt and Jon Green. The Dragons have a great front row rotation but make each prop work extra hard when they are on the field.
  • Pressure Jamie Soward's kicking game - he rarely gets a good strike on a ball under pressure. Let him have time and he'll pin you deep most times.
  • If Matt Utai replaces Chris Lawrence at left centre then make it his mission to run at Jamie Soward all game. If Mitch Brown is chosen instead - give the ball to Lote Tuqiri on inside balls and make him spot Soward as much as possible.
  • Don't over-use Tim Moltzen on an inside ball. Make Matt Cooper and Mark Gasnier make a decision in defence by giving Utai/Brown and Ayshford the ball early on and then if the Dragons' centres jam in to cut off that ball movement - hit Moltzen on the inside.
  • Kick high to Brett Morris when inside the attacking 20m zone. Make him catch it.
Game Plan Points (outside of the obvious - make minimal mistakes, complete sets etc)
  • Give Darius Boyd lots of early ball - he's the link to the strike weapons out wide (Gasnier, Cooper, Morris and Nightingale) so give Boyd as many chances as possible to get them involved.
  • Make sure Jamie Soward has room and time to kick long. Ben Hornby needs to make sure the set plays out so Soward has this advantage. If he does get pressured - Nathan Fien needs to take more kicks from dummy half when he comes on.
  • Get numbers in on Gareth Ellis. He's their best defender so the more sting you can take out of him when he's got the ball the better.
  • Run through the middle. The front row rotation is a strength and the Tigers are yet to definitively prove they can stop a team with powerful defence up the middle.
  • Make Robbie Farah work extremely hard in defence. Make Farah defend, defend and defend some more. Although he has handled a bigger defensive workload in 2011 - he's the man most likely to hurt the Dragons around the ruck.
  • Hit Tim Moltzen hard on his early kick returns. He's not a great kick-returner at the best of times, but if he is thinking twice about running it back after getting smashed early - he'll wait for his wingers to get back to take the ball and that allows the kick-chase to gain valuable metres.
  • If Matt Utai plays - bomb the life out of him and target him defensively - he's sketchy on both counts. Beau Ryan is also somewhat iffy under the high ball.  Keep at them.
  • Try to manage Benji Marshall's impact. Sit him on his butt if you can but just make sure he's got minimal room where possible. Wide men - sweat on Marshall's long cut out passes (particularly left to right) - there's an intercept on offer if the timing is right.
  • Play with the intensity the Dragons have been known for under Wayne Bennett. This could be do or die - play that way.
  • Execute our three set moves as much as possible. They are Soward cut out to Gasnier or Nightingale inside the 20m zone, shift left out the back to Boyd or play short Hornby to Creagh. Don't complicate things - when executed they are hard to stop.
GAME INFORMATION...
TIGERS v DRAGONS
Coming In... 
4th TIGERS TEAM RECORD 15-9 for 34 Points, +89.
5th DRAGONS TEAM RECORD 14-9-1 for 33 Points, +142.
Head to Head Last 10...
TIGERS 5 DRAGONS 5 - The Tigers stunned the Dragons late in Round 22 - winning 16-14 at the SFS in a semi-final like atmosphere. But the Dragons had won four in a row before that.
Last Finals Match: St.George-Illawarra moved into the 2010 Grand Final at the Tigers' expense 13-12 at ANZ in the Preliminary Final.
Tuesday Team News...
WTG: Moltzen, Ryan, Ayshford, Lawrence, Tuqiri, Marshall, Lui, Gibbs, Farah (c), Galloway, Fulton, Ellis, Heighington. Bench: Brown, Flanagan, Groat, Woods, Utai, McKinnon, Fifita.
[Team Changes - The Tigers bring Chris Lawrence back from a hamstring strain but he is not a certain starter. Matt Utai goes to the bench and Beau Ryan and Keith Galloway also return from a week's rest. The most interesting selection is the addition of Andrew Fifita on the bench after spending the last two months in NSW Cup purgatory. Ben Murdoch-Masila goes back to Toyota Cup. ]
STI: Boyd, Morris, Gasnier, Cooper, Nightingale, Soward, Hornby (c), Hunt, Young, Weyman, Scott, Creagh, Prior. Bench: Green, Fien, Cuthbertson, Merrin, Rein.
[Team Changes - The Dragons have added Jon Green to their bench for the clash with the Tigers in the only change to their squad from Round 26. The Dragons look settled and relatively fit - a worry for the other seven teams still in contention for the Premiership. ]
Wednesday Game Preview...
To find out the Panel's tips and why they are tipping them - listen to the Podcast or watch the Tipping Video. Out Thursday.
Tipping + Fantasy Late Mail... 
SMH and Other Late Mail 08/09 - The Tigers will not risk Chris Lawrence, with Matt Utai or Mitch Brown coming into the centres to replace him. The Dragons will choose between Adam Cuthbertson and Mitch Rein for their final bench spot.
The NRL Tweet's Tip... 
TIGERS To Win By 4 Points.
|-| |-| |-|
Toyota Cup:
Starts at 5:15pm.
 #2 v #7 

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2011 NRL QUALIFYING FINALS PAGE
FINALS WEEK 1 MATCHUPS
07/09 Odds are courtesy of Sportingbet Australia - Line Varies.
21 - 127:45pm Fri @ ANZ | LINE: WTG +2.0 GAME STATS
Tigers will have a home semi in Week 2 against the Warriors, Dragons avoided elimination when the Warriors were beaten and will play the Broncos in Week 2.
40 - 106:30pm Sat @ Suncorp | LINE: WAR +2.5 GAME STATS
Broncos will have a home semi in Week 2 against the Dragons, The Warriors will play the Tigers after avoiding elimination.
42 - 088:30pm Sat @ SFS  | LINE: NQL +7.5 GAME STATS
Manly will 'host' a Preliminary Final at the SFS or ANZ in Week 3. Cowboys are eliminated as one of the two lowest seeded losers in Week 1.
18 - 084:00pm Sun @ AAMI | LINE: NEW +10.5 GAME STATS
Melbourne advance to Week 3 with a home preliminary final, the Knights are eliminated.

The best NRL Preview on the net kicks into gear for the Finals with all the info you need to make an 'informed tipping decision' or feel better about your team's chances in September.
Make sure you bookmark www.wdnicolson.com and compare your picks to the Podcast Panel's Tips all month long and make sure you grab the Podcast every Thursday. Check back on Friday for the Latest Mail as it breaks.
Be sure to enter NOT The Footy Show's Finals Phase for Fantasy League
Pick your team from the positional tables and watch them score Tries for you throughout the Finals Series. There are triple points on offer for Grand Final Points and the winner walks away with a specially created NOT The Footy Show 'Old School Team Logo' T-Shirt.
Cut-off is 7:30pm before the 1st Qualifying Final on September 9.
NOT The Footy Show Episode 82

Qualifying Finals Podcast Preview
Released September 8, 2011. 
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NOT The Footy Show 2011
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