AT LEICHHARDT OVAL: Played 4 - Wests Tigers 3, Warriors 1
LAST TIME: 2012 Wests Tigers 22 defeated Warriors 22 at Leichhardt Oval
BIGGEST HEAD TO HEAD WINS:
Wests Tigers 50 defeated New Zealand 4 at Christchurch, 2004.
New Zealand 36 defeated Wests Tigers 14 at Campbelltown, 2002.
Sauaso Sue v Elijah Taylor
These young two players have become key members of their respective forward packs and go head-to-head this week in what shapes to be a bruising match-up at Leichhardt Oval.
Since making his debut in Round 6 against St. George-Illawarra, Sauaso Sue has shown massive potential, earning him a spot in the starting side at lock for the past three games. Averaging close to 30 tackles per game is an impressive feat considering six of his 11 matches have come from the bench. Sue and experienced forward Adam Blair have formed an effective support play combination, which was highlighted in the rookie back-rowers try against the Broncos in Round 14.
One of the games best utility players, Elijah Taylor has found a home at the back of the scrum in recent weeks following stints on the bench and at hooker earlier in the season. Taylor has only missed one game this season, with an impressive 115 metres per game, combined with an average of 29 tackles. Taylor knows how to find the line also, scoring four tries in his past six matches and will obviously need be watched closely by the Wests Tigers defence.
Chris Lawrence v Konrad Hurrell
Experience comes up against youth in this encounter, with Chris Lawrence and Konrad Hurrell both possessing a dangerous attacking game highlighted by their great footwork and powerful running style.
Lawrence was fairly quiet in the Wests Tigers disappointing 36-22 last start loss against Cronulla. Following an impressive display against Melbourne the previous week, Lawrence made just 52 metres from five runs against the Sharks. Forming a lethal left side combination with Tim Simona, the clash with Hurrell and Glen Fisiiahi is shaping up to be an exciting showdown. Look for Lawrence to come out firing this week as he looks to lead the Wests Tigers to a late charge at the finals.
Returning to the Warriors side in Round 12 following a stint in NSW Cup, Hurrell exploded back onto the scene in an impressive run of form. Scoring five tries in the past five games, Hurrell is a hard man for the defence to put down which is shown in his 42 tackle busts. The statistics also prove just how good the barnstorming centres season has been, with 140 metres per game and 10 line-breaks in just 12 matches. The Wests Tigers left edge will have to be on top of their game in order to stop Hurrell, with Lawrence and Simona having their work cut out for them.
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David Nofoaluma v Manu Vatuvei
Young gun David Nofoaluma faces the tough task this week of marking Manu The Beast Vatuvei in an intriguing clash of two in-form wingers.
After bursting onto the NRL scene back in Round 10, Nofoaluma has taken the opportunity with both hands. Scoring five tries in just seven games, the Campbelltown Collegians junior has had an impressive first season after injuries to Matt Utai and Marika Koroibete paved the way for his debut. With an amazing 44 tackle busts and eight line breaks this year, Nofoaluma has also scored two memorable tries in his two appearances at Leichhardt Oval, including the match winner against North Queensland.
Vatuvei has turned in another impressive season in 2013, with the 27-year-old scoring 10 tries in 11 games. Since making his debut in 2004, The Beast has crossed for 112 tries in 163 matches and is tough to stop close to the line. Now one of the senior members of the Warriors side, Vatuvei has formed an exciting left edge combination with former Storm centre Dane Nielsen this year. Vatuvei will no doubt look to use his size advantage again this week, with rookie winger Nofoaluma in for a physical battle this Friday night.
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