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Wests Tigers v Warriors: Five key points

Wests Tigers v Warriors: Five key points

The Tigers farewelled a couple of stars in style and condemned the Warriors to a ninth-straight loss with a 28-16 victory at Leichhardt Oval in the final regular season game of 2017. 

 

Tigers finish the year on a high

There was speculation about the 'Big Four', coaches have come and gone and results haven't always gone their way, but the Wests Tigers can hold their heads high after an impressive finish to the season. 

Ivan Cleary's men were a class above their opponents and looked threatening every time they touched the ball, and with a good mix of flair and grit coming through the ranks, the future looks bright for the Tiger cubs. 

"It's always nice to finish with a win," Cleary said. 

"I think our last couple of months have certainly given us some hope and definitely some momentum. We can close the door on that one and get on with it."

Warriors must address issues ASAP 

They were tipped by most to challenge for the title, but even with a star-studded spine, the Warriors lost their last nine matches to miss out on the finals for the sixth year in a row. 

It's something few people can quite work out and it's a situation not helped by their once mighty under-20s finishing 2017 with the wooden spoon after they conceded 892 points and managed just three wins. 

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said things needed to change in terms of developing their young stars into first-grade footballers. 

"We've got ourselves to blame, there's no doubt about that," he said. 

"If you look at our NYC side, it's been beaten pretty comprehensively over the past month or so. We've missed the boat in terms of taking our eye off the ball in developing our talent, but I think when you've had five coaches in seven years, I'm pretty sure that that breeds some inconsistency. 

"We're putting pieces in place to make sure we fix it."

 


Departing stars go out in style

It'll be a different looking Tigers side in 2018 with rep stars Aaron Woods (Bulldogs) and James Tedesco (Roosters) set to link up with rival clubs for the next four years but the pair left their fans with one last memory as they both turned in stellar performances in front of the Leichhardt faithful. 

Woods finished with 224 metres, 37 tackles and five offloads while Tedesco ran for 239 metres and set up a try that few teams could have pulled off. 

"I spoke to 'Teddy' at the start of the week and we put the team first; we didn't want to mention any of the farewell stuff," Woods said. 

"We wanted to go out there and get the win and then really have a good time with the boys. It'll kick in a couple of weeks down the track, but as I said, I'm really happy to enjoy it with Ivan and the boys."

Hoffman sees hope for the future

Departing Warriors back-rower Ryan Hoffman has defended the Warriors' poor season and is confident they can turn things around in the coming years. 

The veteran said he had full faith in Kearney to get the Warriors back on track but conceded it would take time for the club's younger players to learn what it means to perform at an NRL standard on a weekly basis. 

"Trust me, we train hard enough," he said. 

"It's just that at the moment we don't have blokes that are first-grade ready and that comes through the development and that kind of stuff and we can't be training players on how to be first-graders in first grade. 

"I think Steve's identified that there needs to be some progression of the development of the juniors because they've won three 20s grand finals and we've got to make sure that we turn the 20s players into first-graders."

David Nofoaluma is the most improved player in the NRL

He'll be hard-pressed trying to beat James Tedesco and Elijah Taylor for the club's highest honours but there is no denying the fact that Tigers winger David Nofoaluma is the most improved player in the league. 

Nofoaluma ran for a team-high 240 metres and scored the match-sealing try on Sunday to cap a stunning solo season in black and gold. 

He finished 2017 with the third-most offloads (54), the fifth-most tackle breaks (132) and was the only Tiger to play all 24 games in what's been a tough year on and off the field. 

If he keeps this up then representative honours won't be far away.

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