BY CURTIS WOODWARD – EDITOR
Manly-Warringah has put another nail in the Wests Tigers coffin in Thursday night football running out dominant 32-12 winners in front of just under 9000 fans.
It was a frustrating evening for the visitors. From the early minutes it appeared the Sea Eagles were playing a faster game. Wests Tigers were holding on for their life.
Already without veteran and club legend Robbie Farah, tonight was meant to be a chance for long-time understudy Jacob Liddle to show his talents. Not long after kick-off, Liddle was hit with friendy fire and his leg buckled under a tackle. Liddle is now gone for the season. A horrible scenario for a kid that’s already been dealt so many injuries.
Within twenty minutes, Wests Tigers had missed 17 tackles.
The opening exchanges saw both sides drop plenty of ball but it was clear Manly looked far more lethal with the Steeden. Coach Des Hasler has done an incredible job with this squad. They’re destined for September. Wests Tigers looked like a tired side hanging on by the skin of their teeth.
Channel Nine shots showed a forlorn Liddle in the sheds being comforted by family and the injured Farah.
Nobody said Wests Tigers weren’t gutsy.
This team plays for each other and Michael Maguire.
Unfortunately, effort only gets you so far in the National Rugby League.
Wests Tigers just don’t have the cattle they once did.
Some of their fans forget that.
The last time they played finals in 2011 they boasted names like Gareth Ellis, Aaron Woods, Lote Tuqiri, Andrew Fifita, Keith Galloway, Simon Dwyer, Benji and Farah. On top of that, they had rock solid first graders like Bryce Gibbs, Beau Ryan, Chris Lawrence (still there), Liam Fulton, Chris Heighington, Wade McKinnon, Todd Payten and Tim Moltzen.
The arse has fallen out.
Let’s not even mentioned the players they’ve lost.
With all due respect to their current team, how many would make the Penrith Panthers, South Sydney or Cronulla top 17?
But when the whips are cracking and teams are flexing nowadays, Wests Tigers are barely keeping their head above water.
Wests Tigers have nothing left in the tank.
You feel sorry for the fans in Sydney’s south west next week – the ones that show up anyway.
What’s left to cheer?
Manly’s last try tonight to big prop Addin Fonua-Blake is all the proof you need.
The hulking bookend took an inside ball from ten out and ran over three or four defenders.
Hopefully their fans wake up and give these blokes some credit. They’ve given everything they have.
And as one door closes, another is smashed down by a team with lighting in a bottle.
The Sea Eagles aren’t just a top 8 side anymore – they are a legitimate premiership contender. They looked horrible in the first few minutes. The game was all over the place. After 80 minutes though, Sea Eagles fans would be happily on their way home content they have seen a side that could cause some serious shocks in the finals.
As they say, you can only beat what’s in front of you.
They took Wests Tigers best and rolled on.
Yeah James Tedesco steals plenty of the limelight but Tom Trbojevic is a class act. One of the very best players in the premiership. And when he’s causing havoc on the back of momentum created by Taupau, Fonua-Blake, brother Jake and DCE, who knows what could happen?
All you have to do is believe.
Manly was great tonight.
Some will say it wasn’t the best footy you’ll ever see.
But they still put 32 on and won by twenty points.
In the next three weeks they play Canberra, Melbourne and the Eels.
Who says they can’t win all three?