Wests Tigers vs Sydney Roosters: Five things we learned

The Wests Tigers have shocked the heavily favoured Sydney Roosters with a 10-8 victory on Saturday afternoon at ANZ Stadium.

How good is Rugby League? After being written off by most pundits in the lead up to the clash, the Tigers showed grit to make sure it was a successful start to the 2018 season. 

Both teams will have plenty to dissect following the game but let’s look at five things we learnt from opening fixture of Super Saturday.

  1. 1 Combinations need work

    A lot of the talk leading into this match was the mouth-watering potential combination between new Roosters recruits in Cooper Cronk and former Tiger, James Tedesco. However, it was not the sharpest start to their Tri-colours career as they could not combine to cross for a try.

    In saying that, neither team showed too much class in attack as an interrupted pre-season was highlighted in the 80 minutes.

    Josh Reynolds being a last-minute scratching due to a hamstring injury hurt the Tigers chances heading into the game but they showed enough to believe there is still a good chance for them over the opening rounds while Reynolds recovers.

    Both teams will work on their last-tackle options during the week as neither side showed enough to put sides away. The Roosters in particular will look forward to the return of Luke Keary in the coming weeks. Not to take away from the abilities of Mitchell Cornish but the combination of Keary and Cronk will offer another dimension to their attack.

  2. 2 Benji is back

    Now before you think this will be a celebration of the return of the Tiger's favourite son, this is more an appreciation we are seeing a far more calculated and mature Benji Marshall the second time around.

    After leaving the club for a stint in Rugby Union before returning to League to play for the Dragons and Broncos, this time he is back at the club where it all started as purely a solid member of the squad and not the savour of the joint-venture club.

    In this week's game he was rushed into the starting side but what was noticeably different was the composure he showed on last tackle options. Sure there was the odd wayward pass or skipping across the field which he is synonymous with, but his ability to find the touchline to give his side a rest spoke volumes.

     It is clear that he is popular among the playing group and the fans, but he seems to have found the balance between flair and substance which should bode well for all around the club.

  3. 3 Far too many errors

    The first game of the season there are little expectations for sides as they ease their way into the season. However, simple ball security and passing from dummy-half without throwing it forward should be elementary.

    Both sides were guilty of schoolboy errors, particularly when in good attacking positions. Ironically, it was the poor execution that resulted in the match-winning try as the pass that collected Michael Chee-Kam's head led to Corey Thompson going over in the corner.

    Teams will improve as the season progresses but the low scoreline was as much a reflection of the defence of the two teams as it was the quality of ball handling and attacking prowess.

    The Tigers in particular will need to improve and quick as they travel to Melbourne next week and the Storm are known for how ruthless they can be.

  4. 4 Thompson justifies the faith

    When most Rugby League fans looked at the recruits for the Wests Tigers this season, many would have skimmed over the name Corey Thompson. 

    The winger had some solid seasons with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs but it was his time in the English Super League with the Widnes Vikings is where he improved considerably. Crossing for 41 tries in 47 games is as prolific as you could get and highlights why the Tigers brought him back to Australia.

    Despite these stats and a great pre-season, few would have expected that he would have been named for Round 1 over David Nofoaluma. Ivan Cleary saw the hard work the winger had put in the lead-up and rewarded him with that spot and he didn't disappoint. Not only was he safe under the highball, he was able to cross for the try that won the match meaning it will be at least another week for Nofoaluma to run around in reserve grade.

  5. 5 Roosters backs look set for big year

    Despite neither team setting the world on fire, there were positives for the Roosters fans to take out of the loss.

    A lot was made about the potential big year for Latrell Mitchell but it was the opposite centre who looked more dangerous. Joseph Manu has established himself in the team after the departure of Shaun Kenny-Dowall to the Knights and he really stood out with his aerial ability and footwork.

    Not to be outdone, Blake Ferguson looks set for a big year after finishing with several line-breaks and a try to his name.

    The whole backline will fire at some stage during the season but with the class of Manu and Ferguson this week, the fans are already getting a glimpse into what could be a successful season for the Tri-colours.

    What were your thoughts on the Tigers win over the Roosters? Let us know in the comments section below.

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