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Roosters keep minds on job as Tigers fightback falls just short

Date

Greg Prichard

TIGERS 28 ROOSTERS 42

Roosters star Braith Anasta gets a pass away.

Roosters star Braith Anasta gets a pass away. Photo: Steve Christo

At the end of a tragic day for Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah and his family, his team still had to play a football game.

MATCH STATS

That they lost was inconsequential, given that the players were rocked by the passing of Farah's mother, Sonia, due to cancer. But there are two sides to every story and on the other side of the field was a Sydney Roosters team that had their backs to the wall and were desperate to win.

Tigers back Benji Marshall stands with his head bowed during a minute's silence for Robbie Farah's mum, who died on the eve of the game.

Tigers back Benji Marshall stands with his head bowed during a minute's silence for Robbie Farah's mum, who died on the eve of the game. Photo: Steve Christo

The last thing the Roosters could afford to do was think that maybe the Tigers, minus Farah and with their heads spinning, might not be as hard to beat as usual. What we saw on the field suggests the Roosters did a good job of shutting out such thoughts.

They may have conceded the first try, but they did start the game well, and quickly turned a 4-0 deficit into a 12-4 lead.

The Tigers didn't get any closer than eight points down from that point, but such is the nature of their team that, despite what they were going through, they couldn't help but revert to type when the game appeared to be out of their reach. That was when the Roosters had raced away to a 30-4 lead, 12 minutes into the second half.

The Roosters' Mitchell Pearce makes a play. Click for more photos

Tigers have nothing to crow about

The round 15 Rugby League match between the Wests Tigers and the Sydney Roosters at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, June 17, 2012. The Roosters won 42 - 28. All pictures by Steve Christo. Selected images available from www.fairfaxsyndication.com Photo: Steve Christo

If there is one team that knows how to get results from throwing the ball around, it's the Tigers. Sure, in normal circumstances there is plenty of structure in the way they play, but when they need to - or just want to - cut loose, they are capable of doing it in stunning fashion. The Tigers scored tries in the 55th, 65th, 68th and 71st minutes, compared to one from the Roosters during that time.

So, trailing 36-28 and with more than enough time to score the points necessary to win a game in a competition that has had some incredible escapes already this season, the Tigers had brought the game alive as a contest again. A packed Leichhardt Oval crowd was roaring in anticipation of seeing one of the great rugby-league rescues.

It wasn't to be, the Roosters kept the Tigers out from that point and scoring another try themselves with about a minute to go, but it was a spectacular cameo under extremely difficult circumstances. And the Roosters knew there was every chance of the opposition coming back, given the Tigers' brilliant attacking ability.

''When the Tigers get a bit of a roll-on, you know about it,'' Roosters captain Braith Anasta said. ''We talked about it at half-time [when the Roosters led 24-4], and Smithy [coach Brian Smith] spoke about how they're going to come and throw everything at us. It's easy to talk about it, but actually defending it is another thing.

''They were missing a couple of key players and particularly Farah, but they've still got a lot of skilful players out there. It was scary at the end and we can probably work on a few things in our defence and our composure out there. But at the end of the day every one of our players met their challenge and it was a good win.''

Smith said he didn't think the Roosters were ever going to lose. His concern was the tightening scoreline wasn't a true reflection of the game.

''Our guys had done such a good job,'' Smith said. ''But, as Braith said, the Tigers are dangerous, and probably more dangerous when they're behind than when they're in front.

''They've got that attitude to shift the ball around and lots of blokes with lots of attacking weapons.''

We will never know if, had it been a normal day, the Roosters would have won anyway. But after four straight losses they needed the two points like oxygen.

SYDNEY ROOSTERS 42 (B Anasta, B Cordner, A Guerra, M Kennedy, M Pearce, L Tasi, J Waerea-Hargreaves tries; B Anasta 7 goals) bt WESTS TIGERS 28 (K Galloway, C Lawrence, T Moltzen, B Ryan, M Utai tries; B Marshall 4 goals) at Leichhardt Oval. Referees: Gavin Badger, Ben Cummins. Crowd: 20,327.

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