Just like old times as Farah and Benji keep Tigers hopes alive
After spearheading Wests Tigers to a 20-16 ambush of St George Illawarra in his first match alongside Benji Marshall for five years, Robbie Farah is hoping to help plot the downfall of competition leaders South Sydney next weekend.
Farah, who rejoined the Tigers after being released by the Rabbitohs before the NRL's June 30 transfer deadline, had a hand in all three of the team's tries as they stunned the Dragons to move within four points of the top eight.
Tigers coach Ivan Cleary, who watched the match from the sideline, praised Farah and Marshall for their composure and direction as the joint venture side returned to the formula which had earned them early season success.
Marshall, who dislodged the ball from Tariq Sims in a try-saving tackle and used his experience to steer the team around, said reuniting with Farah again was "really special" and "didn't feel any different" to the 167 games they had previously played together for the club between 2003 and 2013.
"It felt like we were on the same page," Marshall said. "I thought he controlled around the ruck really well and in my opinion he was the best player on the field today.
"He picked his moments when to run, got a couple of repeat sets and just kept the team calm. He just pulled everyone in a huddle, and his talk and experience rubbed off on everyone."
Farah said he and Marshall had been "excited all week" about the prospect of playing together.
"It felt a bit surreal to be honest but we are both different sorts of players to what we were 10 or 15 years ago," Farah said. "We are both a lot slower that's for sure but I thought that maturity really helped get that win.
"That control in the second half, there was a period there where we came up with three or four forced drop outs, built a lot of pressure and in the end forced them into an error by going for a short drop out [which went out on the full]."
Farah will make his 250th NRL appearance against Souths at ANZ Stadium next Saturday but he insisted he was more interested in helping to keep the Tigers in the finals race than personal records.
While he enjoyed his time with the Rabbitohs and was thankful to them for granting him a release, Farah said he was willing to provide the Tigers with inside information to help end their nine-game winning streak
"There is no doubt having been there that I know the way they play and their structures and things like that, but knowing the way they play is one thing, stopping it is another," he said.
"You have got the Burgess boys rolling forward and giving Cookie quick play-the-balls, he is like lighting out of dummy half, and then you have got Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker, and Alex Johnson at the back.
"It all starts from the quick play-the-balls that they are getting and those boys are playing on the front foot so our forward pack has a massive challenge against a massive Souths back.
"I will give a bit of insight into the way they play but it is one thing knowing the way they play and another trying to stop it."
The Tigers are likely to be without second rower Chris Lawrence after he came from the field with a hamstring strain in the 64th minute.
At the time, the Tigers led 18-6 after tries to halfback Luke Brooks, Corey Thompson and David Nofoaluma and a 66th minute Esan Marsters penalty goal after Gareth Widdop kicked out on the full from a goal-line drop out put them 14 points clear.
However, the Tigers had to hang after late tries by Widdop and Matt Dufty to secure the 200th win in the joint venture's 19th season and their first at Jubilee Oval since 2005.
"I thought we played with more control than I have seen from us for a long time," Cleary said. "Under pressure against a good team, with a lot of strike players, I always felt if we could control when they got the ball and how they got it we could contain them."
Asked about Farah's second match back in Tigers colours, Cleary said: "He is a class player, he touches the ball more than anyone else and that is what you want in those big decision moments when it really counts. That is the sort of thing we have been lacking throughout the year."