While it might not have necessarily been the most convincing of performances against the Gold Coast Titans, Wests Tigers will head into their first home match of 2015 with somewhat of a rare confidence — a win in Round 1 to start the year.
Since the start of 2011, Wests Tigers have only managed one win from their opening games of the season, coming against the Cronulla Sharks in 2012. Eerily, that win too was by a single-point (although perhaps not as dramatic as last Saturday night’s heroics from Pat Richards), and the self-belief gained from an opening round win wasn’t lost on the players at all this week.
“It’s always good to win Round 1,” said captain Robbie Farah during the week.
“It’s probably even better to win away from home, up there, which is always a tough place to go and try to get a win to start the season.
“I guess, going into that game, many people thought we were morals to win, but we never took it that way and the Gold Coast certainly didn’t play that way.
"They made it really tough for us, and it was a really tough game.
“It was scrappy from our end, and a game that we probably got away with in the end, to be honest. We were really poor in the first half, but much better in the second, and got ourselves in a position to win the game there.
“We still made it hard on ourselves in that last 10 minutes, though.
“But I guess, regardless of the performance, the most important thing from our point of view was to walk away with the two points,” he said.
“Now we’ve just to improve week-in and week-out.”
That, of course, is the big challenge looming for Jason Taylor’s side this Monday night as they look to chalk up back-to-back wins to start season 2015.
Wests Tigers haven’t done that since 2008 and only twice in their 15-year history, and they certainly won’t get any favours from a Dragons side who hold a 100 percent winning record at Campbelltown Sports Stadium against Wests Tigers.
Paul McGregor’s side showed glimpses of potential in their Round 1 loss to the Melboune Storm — going down 12-4 in the end, but still offering plenty in both attack and defence, something Taylor commented on during the week.
“I thought the Dragons actually did okay in that match,” said Taylor.
“You know you’ve done really well when you’ve held the Melbourne Storm to just two tries and that was really good from them.
"They’ll be disappointed they didn’t get more points on the board and that’s what everyone seems to be talking about, so I suppose that’s where they’re going to try and improve.
“So we know we’ll need to be good defensively this week.”
Wests Tigers hold an extremely strong record in recent years at Campbelltown, winning all but six of their last 19 matches at the venue.
They are yet to beat St. George-Illawarra there, though, with the Dragons recording 36-24 and 42-8 victories when they met in 2000 and 2002 respectively.
Wests Tigers also, interestingly, have struggled playing Monday night football, with just two wins from their last 11 matches — both against the Parramatta Eels (including last year’s Easter Monday afternoon match at ANZ Stadium).
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Full Round 1 Fixtures (home team listed first)
Friday — Canterbury Bulldogs vs. Parramatta Eels
Friday — Cronulla Sharks vs. Brisbane Broncos
Saturday — Penrith Panthers vs. Gold Coast Titans
Saturday — Manly Sea Eagles vs. Melbourne Storm
Saturday — North Queensland Cowboys vs. Newcastle Knights
Sunday — South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. Sydney Roosters
Sunday — Canberra Raiders vs. New Zealand Warriors
Monday — Wests Tigers vs. St. George-Illawarra Dragons
Wests Tigers Round 1 Fixtures
NRL — Monday, March 16, 7:00pm vs. St. George-Illawarra Dragons (H)
NYC — Monday, March 16, 4:45pm vs. St. George-Illawarra Dragons (H)
NSW Cup — Saturday, March 14, 3:00pm AEDT, vs. Wentworthville Magpies (H)