Wests Tigers: Can the side roar into finals contention

Wests Tigers Huddle
Wests Tigers huddle up for the remainder of the 2021 season (Photo: Wests Tigers/Twitter)

The West Tigers have had a disaster of a season in 2021, placing themselves securely near the bottom of the ladder. The goal for the side now must be to win some games and gain momentum and confidence going into the 2022 season.

Snapshot of the season

The West Tigers have gone backwards from where they were in 2020. The Tigers currently sit 14th on the ladder, and with just five wins of the season, fans are asking serious questions.

It has been a season of randomness for the Tigers. The team has struggled to gain any momentum. Only once during the season did they manage two wins in a row. This came during the Origin period against a depleted Panthers lineup. The Tigers now need to find a way to gain something out of the rest of the season.

What has worked

David Nofoaluma: The Tigers winger has had a season to remember in 2021. With the Tigers letting Benji Marshall go at the end of the 2020 season, it would be up to seasoned veterans to stand to fill that void. Nofoaluma has been the man to do that. Nofoaluma currently sits sixth in the game for overall points scored and is well on top in the meters run stat for the Tigers.

Alex Twal: The Lebanese international has been a force to be reckoned with on the front and back ends of the field. Twal’s monumental total of 490 tackles put him 12th in the competition on the defensive end. On the attacking end, he has made 207 runs for 1783 metres in total. It has been a fantastic effort from the prop.

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What has not worked

The biggest issue for the Tigers has been their consistency. The side has struggled to string any performances together, and when they have managed to be somewhat consistent, it has been losing. The key to making finals and winning premierships is consistent wins; this will be something coach Michael Maguire will need to focus on for 2022.

While the Tigers have had some good wins and even close losses, an area of worry is the blowouts the side has experienced. Losses having included a 40-6 loss against the Roosters and a loss to the Sea Eagles with the same scoreline. If the Tigers want to be more successful from now on, they will need to stay competitive for longer.

Luke Brooks: He had an important job to undertake after the Tigers move Benji Marshall on. In some ways, he has held his own, but there is definite improvement needed. Brooks has given away 10 penalties in his 16 games to date, putting him fourth in the competition. If the Tigers are to be competitive, the side cannot afford to turn the ball over with simple penalties. Brooks has also missed 45 tackles, which is frankly not good enough.

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Who needs to lift

James Tamou: Having been appointed captain in his first year at the club, there was a lot of pressure on Tamou at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, Tamou he’s failed to live up to it so far. While he has started in every match played, he has only played in 657 minutes of game time. On top of this, his stats are nothing special, only scoring two tries and just over 1000 metres run through the season. The only redeeming feature of his game has been on the defensive end, where he has landed 382 tackles.

The run home

The Tigers have one of the easiest runs home with some very winnable games. They will play the Bulldogs twice, giving them the best chance possible at moving up the ladder. The most challenging game in the run home will be against the second-place Panthers. However, the Tigers will take some confidence into this game, having beaten them earlier in the season.

Remaining matches

July 18th v BroncosJuly 24th v Sea Eagles
July 30th v WarriorsAugust 8th v Bulldogs
August 14th v CowboysAugust 21st v Sharks
August 29th v PanthersSeptember 5th v Bulldogs

Can the Tigers play finals

While they sit in 14th now, it is still mathematically possible for the Tigers to make finals. Only two wins currently separate the Sharks in 8th and the Tigers in 14th. With a favourable draw, playing the Bulldogs twice and Broncos once, a finals appearance is still on the cards. However, one issue they will have is the competition moving to Queensland. The Tigers were set for crucial home games, which can no longer take place.

Players to return from Origin/Injury

The West Tigers have had a relatively good injury run with only two players currently out of the first-choice side. Unfortunately, it looks like both of those injuries will be season-ending knee injuries. Asu Kepaoa and Russell Packer are both set to spend the rest of the season on the sidelines.

The West Tigers are not yet out of finals contention but will need to get their season back with a win against the Broncos. The kick-off is at 4:05 pm on July 18.

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About Rory Denis 74 Articles
Rory writes on cricket, rugby league and Aussie Rules for The Inner Sanctum. His focus is cricket, with a focus on analysis recaps and commentary via Twitter. He has also featured on the Over and Stumps podcast on the inner sanctum network. Outside of the Inner Sanctum, he is a law student at the University of Canberra.

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