Wests Tigers will look to end their strong 2015 pre-season on a winning note when they take on the Cronulla Sharks in a trial match this Saturday night.
Jason Taylor’s side were impressive last Friday night against the Parramatta Eels in Alice Springs — holding the hosts to just four points on the night — and they’ll no doubt look to continue that form this Saturday against the Sharks. The return of Luke Brooks from NRL All Stars and James Tedesco will certainly be a big boost for the hosts as they look to improve on their attacking potency, something JT spoke of following the trial win over the Eels.
“There’s still plenty to work on from the game,” he said.
“We were happy with most of the game, but there were still some key areas that we need to improve in regards to our tackling and our ball control early on in the game.
“This week is just a matter of continuing on with the stuff that we’ve been working hard on — keeping that strong defensive structure in place and working on our attacking composure, something we lost our way in a little bit last week.”
Wests Tigers won three NRL matches from three against the Sharks last year — including a trial match at Remondis Stadium to kick off 2014 — but both sides will look very different by the time they take the field this time around.
For the Sharks, new recruits Ben Barba, Michael Ennis, Gerard Beale and Kyle Stanley will all play their first matches for the Club, while representative forwards Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen will also return to the team. Coach Shane Flanagan also returns after missing 2014.
This will be the Sharks’ second trial match for 2015, having gone down 42-22 to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Pittwater Park last weekend.
General Admission Adult tickets for the match are available for $12 at the gate and via Ticketek (click here to purchase), while Members gain free entry.
Read on for a full preview of the trial match, including team news and more.
Date — Saturday, February 21, 2015
Time — 7:00pm kickoff (gates open at 12:00pm)
Venue — Campbelltown Sports Stadium (Rose Payten Drive, Leumeah)
Tickets — GA tickets available for $12 (click here); Wests Tigers Members get free entry
TV, Live Stream and Live Commentary Information
TV — There is no live TV coverage of the match
Live Stream — You can watch a live stream here: weststigers.com.au/LiveStream
1. Shannon McDonnell 2. Kevin Naiqama 3. Tim Simona 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Pat Richards 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Keith Galloway 11. Curtis Sironen 12. Sauaso Sue 13. Dene Halatau (Interchange: 14. Ava Seumanufagai 15. Matthew Lodge 16. Martin Taupau 17. Brenden Santi 18. James Tedesco 19. Delouise Hoeter)
1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Gerard Beale 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Ben Barba 7. Jeff Robson 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Michael Ennis 10. Matt Prior 11. Anthony Tupou 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen (Interchange: 14. Pat Politoni 15. Tinirau Arona 18. Mitch Brown 19. Kyle Stanley 22. Jack Bird 26. Chris Heighington 35. David Fifita)
Key Matchup to Watch — Mitchell Moses vs. Ben Barba
Moses featured heavily in the opening 40 mintues against the Eels last week, and will be looking for even more work this week as he prepares for and his first full season of NRL.
His kicking game and running game on the left edge was sharp against Parramatta, and he’ll be boosted by the return of Luke Brooks and James Tedesco to the team this week.
The trio have never played together before at NRL level despite combining frequently in the junior grades, so they’ll be looking to show exactly what they can do on Saturday night as they combine together with Robbie Farah around the middle of the field.
Whilst his direct opponent on the night, Ben Barba, has had far more experience in his NRL career so far, the former Brisbane Bronco does find himself in a similar situation to Moses this weekend. Having started out as a fullback, Barba spent time in the No. 6 jersey before moving back to Sydney for the 2015 season and is preparing himself for his first full season in No. 6, with this match his chance to impress in an “NRL-like” experience.
Look for his combination with Michael Gordon on the night — taking the ball early and drifting across field before hitting Gordon underneath or with a kick in behind the line.