It’s sure to be an intriguing battle on the edge this Saturday between Chris Lawrence and Tariq Sims at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, with both players having strong seasons individually in 2016.
While the results haven’t favoured Wests Tigers on a number of occasions this year, it’s hard to fault the effort from the Club’s vice-captain who has been one of the side’s best performers.
Lawrence looks dangerous every time he gets the ball close to the line, with impressive game statistics to back it up that read 91 metres and 29 tackles per match.
His combination with halfback Luke Brooks has been a highlight this season, running great lines on the left side with three tries to show for his efforts (and it could easily have been more with a lot close calls).
On the other hand, Sims has been one of the Knights best forwards since his return from suspension – in particular over the past fortnight - where he has made a combined 229 metres and 66 tackles.
Sims is one of three co-captains for the Knights in 2016 and the former Cowboy remains in the sights of New South Wales selectors after earning his fifth Country Origin appearance at the start of this month.
While Wests Tigers and Newcastle sit 14th and 16th respectively, there’s no shortage of quality match-ups in this Round 11 encounter such as Moses v Lamb, Brooks v Hodkinson, Taylor v Smith and Rankin v Uate.
However, it’s the clash between veteran backrowers Lawrence and Sims which looks likely to have a major impact on this match, with the pair holding important leadership roles for their respective sides.
Sims and Lawrence have met previously in five NRL games, with the Knights forward claiming the last three games for a 3-2 advantage.
In total, Sims has won five from eight clashes against Wests Tigers; while Lawrence has won five and lost five against the Knights during his NRL career.
Lawrence does, however, hold a 2-0 advantage on the representative arena – claiming wins with City in 2012 and 2016 over Sims’ Country side.
Improving each week…
Since returning from suspension in Round 6 against Wests Tigers, Sims has been busy on the right edge for the Knights, averaging 32 tackles and 88 metres per game.
Despite limited possession last week in his side’s 62-0 loss to Cronulla, Sims made a season-high 120 metres and was arguably the best player in the Knights side.
Lawrence on the verge of history…
Lawrence is close to becoming Wests Tigers’ all-time leading try-scorer, currently sitting in second-place behind Benji Marshall.
The 27-year-old has currently scored 73 tries for the Club, three behind Marshall who scored 76 tries during an 11-year stint at the joint venture.
Lawrence has already scored three tries in nine games this season and with another 12 games to play in the regular season, it’s a big chance that this record could be broken in 2016.
Wests Tigers looking to break “hoodoo”
Wests Tigers will head into this match having won just one of their past six clashes against the Newcastle Knights.
Obviously Lawrence’s record against the Novocastrians is similar, with one win from his past five matches (despite having an equal five win – five loss record against the Knights).
The last time Wests Tigers beat Newcastle at Campbelltown was back in 2009, a game which Lawrence’s centre partner Dean Collis stole the show, scoring a hat-trick in the 26-24 win.
What he said…
“We had a loss similar to the one the Knights had on the weekend and turned it around the week later, so no doubt they’ll be looking to do the same thing,” Lawrence said.
“In saying that the loss we had on the weekend probably hurt just as much — if not more than the Canberra loss did — so we’ll be turned up on Sunday."