Tigers learn lessons from Storm game
Wests Tigers players showed last week exactly what they need to do to threaten the top teams in the competition and after last week's slow start proved costly have vowed to put those lessons into practice against Penrith on Saturday night.
The Tigers were blown off the park in the first 40, going to the break 26-0 down at AAMI Park as they let themselves down with critical errors and penalties, completing at barely better than 50 per cent (eight from 14 at 57 per cent) while giving away three penalties.
They were unrecognisable from that effort in the second half, laying on 20 unanswered points against the usually miserly Storm while completing 21 of 22 sets (95 per cent) despite offloading 13 times and doubling Melbourne's second half running metres.
Speaking from training this week ahead of their clash against the unpredictable Panthers, fullback James Tedesco admitted the psychological challenge of travelling to Melbourne may have been weighing on the players' minds but added they would be prepared and focused for Penrith.
"We knew Storm were a top team and sort of put ourselves under pressure knowing it's going to be a tough task down there," Tedesco told NRL.com.
"We knew Melbourne were the top team and they were going to be hard to beat down there and the way we played in the second half shows that we can stick it to the top teams so it's just about doing it consistently.
"In the first half we just had no ball and we were giving away penalties. The way we played in the second half shows how good we can be. We just need to do it for 80 minutes.
"In the second half we just went out and played our sort of footy. We knew that with the score-line it was going to be hard to come back but we gave ourselves a chance there in the back end of the second half. Just knowing what we can do and being confident in our abilities."
Halfback Luke Brooks – who produced one of the best halves of football in his career in that late comeback – was happy with the progress he and halves partner Mitch Moses have made this year.
"I think we're coming along nicely. We've been doing a lot of work together on our games and I think when we do hold the ball and our forwards are going forward it helps our games a lot," Brooks said.
"It was frustrating the way we played in the first half [last week] but encouraging to be able to come out and put it behind us and almost come out and steal it so there's a few things we can take out of that. Hopefully we can build.
"Our main concern is just our ball control. Our first half I think we completed about 56 per cent. There's no way you can win a game if you're completing at that rate. In the second half I think we completed about 95 per cent so that shows that when we hold the ball we can put points on even against the best defensive teams.
"If we control the ball it puts us in a good spot to win the game. In that first half it felt like we were just tackling the whole time and you don't win games when you're defending the whole time. If we can just concentrate on our completion rate being over 80 per cent it'll help us."
Vice-captain Chris Lawrence said even the team's defence during Melbourne's opening onslaught was encouraging, given the amount of possession the Tigers had handed over against such a good side.
"I thought our defence the first 20, we turned them away quite a lot when they were on our line and it was a couple of long-range tries that really hurt us but we've shown when we got an even share of ball what we can do," Lawrence said.
He also hoped that second-half momentum would carry over to tonight's Penrith clash.
"Obviously we finished off that second half well but for us it's about being more composed and when things don't come off like they didn't in that first half probably being a bit more patient and playing a bit more settled and not trying to push the pass. A couple of those errors really hurt us," he said.
Lawrence also had praise for the way the young halves went about their work in the second 40.
"Both of them in that second half were fantastic, especially given we were down," he said.
"I thought we were really composed in that second half. We could have come out and tried to start chasing points early but the tries we scored weren't off the cuff sort of plays, they were composed tries and it was only later in the half we started playing a bit more off the cuff when we were chasing so that was really impressive of them.
"They're getting close and it's just a matter of them putting 80 minute performances together week in week out and playing that composed footy when things don't go our way."