Hard to defend: big win fails to cover the cracks at Tigers
Focused ... Robbie Farah wants a flawless run-in. Photo: Getty Images
AFTER a match which would have been followed by the drinking of both half-full and half-empty sports drink bottles, Wests Tigers players must have wondered whether to celebrate or commiserate. The Tigers scored 51 points against Parramatta on Monday night but conceded 26 points - 22 in the opening 17 minutes.
Yesterday, it was clear the negatives of their Monday night encounter were being focused on more than the positives. The Tigers know they can attack - yet they also know they can defend, which made their performance without the ball so disappointing.
Tigers players met yesterday with assistant coach Steve Georgallis, who prepares their defence, in an attempt to smooth over the cracks before Saturday night's clash with the Dragons.
''Hopefully, we can rectify the mistakes that we made,'' skipper Robbie Farah said. ''He [Georgallis] doesn't go out there to embarrass us or anything, but things needed to be said to highlight the errors that we made so we can fix them.
''It's not anything too ruthless but a lot of the boys put their hands up and admitted their mistakes.
''Obviously, we can take a bit of confidence out of scoring the points that we did, but defensively we need to be a lot better. It was such an important game. We knew what was at stake, and for us to start the way [we did] was very disappointing.''
Second-rower Gareth Ellis said the Tigers attacked better when their defence was sound. ''That's the story of the Tigers,'' Ellis said.
''When we're on, defensively, we usually go on and win comfortably, and that's the key at least for the next four rounds.
''Everyone says it, it's the old cliche, defence wins matches. It's something that we really need to work hard on. Even when things do go wrong, you scramble back and get numbers there.''
The Tigers scrambled into eighth spot with the victory, but Farah said the team's opening 22 rounds had been below expectations.
''We've got four weeks now to cement our spot in the eight and push as high as we can and then, once you're in the semi-finals, it's a whole new ball game,'' the hooker said.
In fact, right now is a new ball game. Farah said the squad had decided last week to consider their final five home-and-away fixtures as a separate competition. They are one from one.
''We've got four more to go and, when that's over, I guess we'll reassess things,'' Farah said. ''We spoke about the fact that we couldn't change anything that's happened so far this year. We couldn't go back and change anything.
''This next five weeks we knew was crucial for us and, obviously, that started last week against Parra … it didn't start as well as we would have liked but we showed good character to come back into the game.
''At 22-6 down, our season was on the line and we were good enough to come back and win that game. Hopefully, that was a small step forward.''