Entertainment reigns in the wet
Clearly the Tigers didn’t get the memo on wet weather footy.
It’s the unwritten rule of rugby league. When the rain’s coming in sideways, you go forward. Give the ball to the biggest, ugliest bloke you’ve got, give the pull string a good yank and send him whirring away up field.
Rinse and repeat for 80 minutes. Leave the wingers out wide to catch a cold, splash about in the puddles or whatever it is they do out there on the flanks.
Instead veterans Robbie Farah and Braith Anasta pulled out their best Siegfried and Roy impersonations, marshalling the Tigers into a magical show of precise passing and exciting attacking plays that blew Manly off the park and repeatedly brought the crowd to its sodden feet.
“It was bizarre,” admits Anasta, who was instrumental as the Tigers piled on 26 unanswered points in the first half hour before triumphing 34-18 over the Sea Eagles.
“We sort of thought at the start of the game just play naturally and normal, and then we were executing well so we didn’t really have to try and change our game plan too much because we were controlling the ball so well.
“It’s always a nice surprise when you can play like that under those conditions.”
The Tigers turned in some of the most impressive wet-weather football seen in years, completing 21 of 24 sets while running in four tries against a defence that had previously conceded only 13 points a match.
With close to 500 first grade games between them, Farah and Anasta took the reins from young playmakers Luke Brooks and James Tedesco for the wet and wild afternoon, and Anasta said the combination of experience and youthful enthusiasm the Tigers have struck in the all important spine was serving the club well.
“It’s a good balance because Brooksy and Teddy are unpredictable and they can create opportunities from nothing,” said Anasta.
“Robbie’s always consistent – he puts in every week and plays great footy every week – and with my experience there I hope I can help when we get conditions like this.
“I think we’ve got a good spine there and everyone’s doing their job and we’re all pretty happy.”
Anasta was also full of praise for his young halfback, who in just his sixth NRL match performed admirably in his first showdown with one of the game’s elite halfbacks in Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans.
“Brooksy held his own, and did really well today. He also played really smart.
“His kicking game was fantastic and his defence was good too, so he’s improved a lot in that department and he did his job well.”
The former NSW five-eighth said that he was not surprised by his side’s impressive start to the season, which now includes comprehensive wins over premiership heavyweights Manly and South Sydney, and has the Tigers sitting in the Top 8 after the opening five rounds of the year.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise, but it’s unreal, I’m loving it.
“We expected to improve a lot this year. Whether we expected to beat the teams we have, I’m not so sure to be honest.
“But we’ve been confident every week to win every game and really we’ve only had two bad halves of footy all year.
“We can take a lot of positives out of every game and I think we’re improving as well, so there’s good signs, and today was certainly a win that we can build on.”