Tuesday 13 September 2011

NRL Finals 2011 - Wests Tigers v Warriors 1st Elimination Final Preview

7:45pm (Local) Friday 16 September @ Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney.
Warriors 22 (Maloney, Mateo, Hohaia, Inu Tries; Maloney 3/4 Goals)
Tigers 20 (Galloway, Marshall, Farah Tries; Marshall 4/4 Goals.)
Quick Game Recap: The Warriors are into a Preliminary Final with a stunning last minute 22-20 victory over the Tigers at the SFS. The Tigers just kept opening the door... and the Warriors eventually walked through it.
Player of the Finals Points:
4pts - Feleti Mateo (WAR), 2pts - Keith Galloway (WTG), 1pt - Ben Matulino (WAR).
See the GAME STATS for more.

NOT The Footy Show Episode 84
- Elimination Finals Preview / Renee Gartner Interview Sept 15, 2011 -

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What is the Game Plan for Friday Night Football?
Game Plan Points (outside of the obvious - make minimal mistakes, complete sets etc)
  • Start with intent. Last week the Tigers got a lucky early try but then went to sleep as the Dragons applied their choker hold. The Tigers were lucky they were only down 12-6 at halftime because the game felt far more like the Dragons were up 18-6. The Warriors might have had a down week but if the Tigers let them start well - the Warriors will get their confidence back soon enough.
  • Hold the Warriors in the middle of the field. St.George-Illawarra started to gain ascendancy in this area of the field midway through the 1st half but the Tigers rectified the situation to start the 2nd half. If the Warriors' forwards get a roll on - the Tigers will find the rest of their team very hard to stop. Must hold the middle.
  • Run with Robbie Farah out of dummy half. Farah's forays out of dummy half have increased in recent weeks and his impact on the game has lifted as a result. But if he is left to run one out - the Warriors will smash him. Give him options.
  • Get Gareth Ellis and Chris Heighington to find Shaun Johnson in the defensive line as much as possible. Although Ellis may line up on the other side of the field, he and Heighington are the guys who are most likely going to pose the lightweight Johnson the most troubles defensively. Exploit him.
  • Robert Lui and Farah need to keep taking the kicking work-load off Benji Marshall. Although Marshall kicked 8 times against the Dragons, Lui and Farah combined for 8 of their own. Share the wealth and let Marshall create instead of kick in as many sets as possible. Turn the Warriors around - but beware their kick return trio of Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou and Manu Vatuvei are three of the best in the business. So the odd shorter kick might be the go as they all drop deep late in a set.
  • Keep playing footy inside the 20m zone. One thing the Tigers can do is go into a shell offensively when they have a full set inside the 20m zone. The Tigers don't seem to score a great deal from the kick (outside of Farah's grubber from dummy-half) near the line so the catch and pass plan needs to be productive. As it was for the match sealing try by Heighington last week.
  • Bomb Manu Vatuvei. Hey it worked for the Broncos. And target him and Krisnan Inu in defence (odds are they'll both line up opposite Blake Ayshford and Beau Ryan) - they are not great decision makers. So make them decide.
  • Click here for the Tigers' Game Plan v Dragons in Week 1.
Game Plan Points (outside of the obvious - make minimal mistakes, complete sets etc)
  • First and foremost the errors have to go. They killed the Warriors in Week 1 against the Broncos and they never saw the Brisbane 20m zone til the game was gone. Complete all sets coming out of trouble would have been the simple message from Ivan Cleary this week.
  • Support play. Feleti Mateo was head and shoulders above his team-mates on Saturday Night but he had little to no support when he created half a chance. Kevin Locke must attach himself to the hip of Mateo and the halves - Shaun Johnson and James Maloney need to follow him when he's on their side of the field.
  • Get Manu Vatuvei involved... more with the ball than catching the ball. Krisnan Inu has been named in the centres this week and although he is not completely reliable under the high ball - if he plays left centre he need to take as many of the high cross kicks as possible. In attack - just keep giving it to Manu.
  • Kick chase. It must improve. Errors kept the Warriors in their own half last week but if the ball control improves then their kick chase becomes crucial. The Tigers' back three of Lote Tuqiri, Beau Ryan and Tim Moltzen aren't great kick returners so kick long and pound them on the return.
  • Take the Tigers on up the middle. The Tigers' best defenders are on the edge of the ruck in Gareth Ellis and Liam Fulton - so take on the big boppers up the middle with your own big boppers. Aaron Heremaia needs to direct this as Johnson and Maloney aren't as effective passing in tight.
  • Give yourselves a chance. Have we mentioned the errors from last week enough? If the completion rate doesn't improve, neither will the field position. And the Tigers are superb on the counter-attack.
  • Pray Benji Marshall has an off-night and don't let Robbie Farah kill you around the ruck. Those two are without doubt the key to the Tigers - so make them both work defensively and do your best to limit their time and space... easier said than done.
  • Click here for the Warriors' Game Plan v Broncos in Week 1.
Coming In... 
4th Seed TIGERS defeated Dragons 21-12 in 1st Qualifying Final.
6th Seed WARRIORS lost to Broncos 40-10 in 2nd Qualifying Final.
Head to Head Last 10...
TIGERS 4 WARRIORS 6 - The Tigers roared back late to beat the Warriors 26-22 in Auckland in Round 14, and also won 20-12 at Leichhardt
Last Time In Finals: These sides have never met in Semi Final Football.
Tuesday Team News...
WTG: Moltzen, Ryan, Ayshford, Lawrence, Tuqiri, Marshall, Lui, Gibbs, Farah (c), Galloway, Fulton, Ellis, Heighington. Bench: Brown, Flanagan, Groat, Woods, Utai, Murdoch-Masila.
[Team Changes - The Tigers bring Chris Lawrence back from a hamstring strain for the second week in a row at the selection table but this time he is almost certain to play. Matt Utai shifts back to the bench alongside Mitch Brown - with one of the two to miss out come game day. Ben Murdoch-Masila is added to the extended bench at the expense of Wade McKinnon and Andrew Fifita - both of which failed to make the final bench against the Dragons. ]
WAR: Locke, Tupou, Brown, Inu, Vatuvei, Maloney, Johnson, Sam Rapira, Heremaia, Lillyman, Mateo, Mannering (c), Luck. Bench: Hohaia, Packer, Matulino, Ta'ai, Taylor.
[Team Changes - The Warriors have recalled Krisnan Inu at centre for the injured Joel Moon (broken ankle) and Lewis Brown remains in the centres with Shaun Berrigan (hip) not right. Jacob Lillyman, Simon Mannering and Kevin Locke picked up knocks against the Broncos but will all play, while Elijah Taylor gets a recall on an extended bench. Sam Rapira avoided suspension with an early guilty plea from a charge in the Qualifying Final. ]
Wednesday Game Preview...
The Tigers should... I stress should - win this semi final given they are currently riding an 8 game winning streak and found another gear last week to out-gun the defending premiers in their qualifying final. The Warriors on the other hand turned up to Brisbane with a great chance of causing an upset and all they did was upset their coach who was at a loss to explain their 40-10 loss. You can't discount any team from the second week of the Finals on - but the Tigers have their sights set on a Premiership and it's hard to see the Warriors standing in their way.
To find  out the Panel's tips and why they are tipping them - listen to the Podcast or watch the Tipping Video here..
Tipping + Fantasy Late Mail... 
SMH and Other Late Mail 16/09 - Chris Lawrence remains the biggest doubt for the Tigers but he believes he will be 100%. Todd Payten could be a late inclusion but has not been named (knee). Simon Mannering (leg) struggled last weekend and could be in some doubt, while Kevin Locke suffered a head knock in the loss to the Broncos.
The NRL Tweet's Tip... 
TIGERS To Win By 10 Points
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Toyota Cup:
#3 v #5 - Winner to play the Cowboys.
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13/09 Odds for Elimination Finals are courtesy of Sportingbet Australia - Line Varies.
1st Elimination Final
$1.35 v $3.257:45pm Fri @ SFS | LINE: WAR +8.5 GAME STATS
Winner advances to 2nd Preliminary Final against Melbourne on Saturday Week.
2nd Elimination Final
$1.68 v $2.207:45pm Sat @ Suncorp | LINE: STI +2.5 GAME STATS
Winner advances to 1st Preliminary Final against Manly on Friday Week.
Waiting in Week 3:

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.