Our mission against toothless Tigers
Most sideways metres gained, and most unnecessary dummies: pin-up boy Benji Marshall Photo: Steve Christo
The Canberra Raiders travel to Campbelltown on Monday night to play the Wests Tigers in what is shaping up as a make or break game for the Sydney side.
The Raiders and Tigers have a long history, dating back to the Greatest Grand-final of All Time in 1989. As everyone remembers, the Raiders defeated the Tigers in a nail-biter that cemented the Raiders as the Greatest Team of the Modern Era.
But the heartbreak of the huge loss plagued the Tigers so much that a decade later, they resorted to changing their name. Unfortunately, the name change didn’t work and the legacy of their failure still haunts them to this very day (so much so that Balmain full-back, Gary Jack, forced his son to play AFL.)
Chief complainer Robbie Farah will be out for this weekend's clash. Photo: Steve Christo
Few people know this but when the Balmain Tigers changed their name to the Wests Tigers, they absorbed little known amateur rugby league club the Western Suburbs Magpies. Apparently, Western Suburbs played in black and white, and had several hundred supporters around the Campbelltown region of Sydney. Not much else is known about them.
The 2012 Tigers were one of the favourites for the premiership at the start of the season. This was because they have Benji Marshall who looks very good on the highlight reels Channel Nine uses for advertising. However, after a shocking start to the season, they are now long odds to contend for the title.
Admittedly, Marshall’s personal statistics over the last few seasons are very impressive. Since 2008, he has led the league in Metres Gained Sideways (140m per match) and Unnecessary Dummies (8 per run). He has also been lauded for bringing elements of basketball into rugby league, most easily demonstrated in his defence and the way he appeals for a penalty when touched.
This week, Marshall will be without his partner-in-crime, Robbie Farah, who is suspended after spear-tackling a Dragon in last week’s match (while I don’t condone spear tackles, I don’t think anyone should be suspended for doing one on a St George player). This means Liam Fulton will have to assume the role of chief complainer.
After last week’s spanking at the hands of the lowly Dragons, the Tigers will be hoping for a big game – otherwise their season could almost be over. The Raiders are just looking forward to playing a match with a full side (hopefully).
With the inclusion of pocket rocket Dimitri Pelo and the bone-crunching Joel Thompson into the starting line-up, the Raiders will have too much muscle for the tentative Tigers.
19 -14 to the Raiders.
In other news: The Tigers have ended talks with Willie Mason. Tigers coach, Tim Sheens, said that the club was looking to bolster its Knucklehead ranks but felt off-season signing Adam Blair gave them more than enough depth in that area.