Praise for Tigers' 80-minute effort
Warned that the 2016 Telstra Premiership was slipping away from them before they even reached the halfway point the Wests Tigers delivered an 80-minute performance on Friday night that coach Jason Taylor says have been far too infrequent.
Playing a Broncos team who were without six players on Origin duty, the Tigers were also minus Robbie Farah, Aaron Woods and James Tedesco but dominated the vast majority of the contest before finally squeaking away with a 19-18 win courtesy of a Mitchell Moses field goal five minutes from full-time.
Having been on the ropes for most of the second half the Broncos almost landed a knockout blow when they threw some late haymakers but young Tigers halves Luke Brooks and Moses showed just enough composure to steer their side home.
On the back of their 20-12 win over the Knights in Round 11 it marked the first time since Round 2 that the Tigers had won consecutive games and keeps them just within reach of the top eight nearing the halfway point of the season.
Given the dominance they enjoyed the final result should have been a lot more convincing and while Taylor acknowledged their execution – particularly with regards to their kicking game – was poor early, the defensive effort was as good as he has seen during his time with the club.
"That was an 80-minute effort for us tonight and I've got to be honest they've been pretty rare for a while for us but that was great," said Taylor after his team's third win in their past four games.
"It was a really great win, really proud of the effort that went into it, the preparation all week. We talked at the end of our game last week about the fact that one win is nice but that we had to back it up.
"I've been challenging the guys for a few weeks about the fact that we're better than we're showing, we're better than our position on the ladder and the competition was going to start to slip away if we didn't get our act together and the guys responded.
"I said that was an 80-minute performance on effort but it wasn't on execution, particularly early. We gave them four 20-metre taps in the first 20 minutes and to come out the other side of that having conceded only one try was the big thing.
"Our defence on our try-line tonight was as good as I've seen it in a couple of years. We've worked hard on it the last couple of weeks, particularly this week because we knew how threatening these guys are.
"We knew their halves were still going to be playing, we knew we had to stop them and in the end we did."
It was only in Round 8 that the Tigers were humiliated by the Raiders 60-6 but captain Chris Lawrence said they were more disappointed with their 34-6 loss to the Bulldogs in Round 10 after bouncing back to defeat the Rabbitohs.
"For us it was just about putting back-to-back performances together playing well," said Lawrence.
"It was great that we won but it was about playing well consistently, two, three and four weeks in a row and eventually the wins will come. We've just been too up and down.
"There was obviously that disappointing loss against Canberra four or five weeks back and we bounced back against Souths and then to not back up that good performance after the bye against the Bulldogs was probably more disappointing than the Canberra performance to be honest."
The next assignment for the Tigers is the Roosters at Allianz Stadium next Sunday with Taylor hopeful star fullback James Tedesco will make his return from a shoulder injury.
In Tedesco's absence the entire back five for the Tigers ran more than 100 metres – fullback Jordan Rankin racking up a game-high 204 metres – and started their sets in such a fashion that they dominated territory for much of the game.
Tim Simona, Josh Addo-Carr, Kevin Naiqama and David Nofoaluma all ran powerfully and put pressure on the Broncos defence, in the process putting pressure on each other for positions in the 17 each week.
"We've got competition for positions that we haven't had for a while," Taylor admitted.
"Curtis Sironen didn't make our team this weekend and that's a really strong sign for us and when James comes back someone is going to have to make way for him and that's really good.
"A few weeks ago we hoped it would be this game [in which Tedesco made his return] but he wasn't strong enough. He was going to need to have been strong enough to play middle of last week if he was going to be a chance tonight and he wasn't.
"Still hopeful for next game but that's not confirmed."