Wests Tigers are set for the biggest game of the season when they host St George Illawarra in the top-of-the-table clash at Lidcombe Oval.
Wayne Lambkin’s U/21s Jersey Flegg side will be hoping to remain unbeaten against the Dragons on Saturday afternoon with the winner of the match to sit atop the ladder at the halfway stage of the season.
Wests Tigers are currently placed in first position with five wins and three draws, as well as two byes, however the Red V are breathing down their necks — just one competition point behind with seven wins and two losses.
Although there’s still plenty of room for improvement, it’s been an impressive start to the season for Wests Tigers, who have the best attacking record in competition (averaging 30 points a game) and are ranked second in defence — just one extra point conceded behind Penrith.
Now they’re set for a blockbuster fortnight against the second and third placed teams.
“The next two weeks are going to be big for us — we’ve got the Dragons and then the Panthers,” Lambkin said.
“This is a good test for us and the boys are confident they can perform well. Our last win was against the Dragons — and it was a good win — so they’ll be looking to back that up this week.”
Lambkin has named a strong lineup for the Round 12 clash with Logen Dillon selected at fullback and Ben Stevanovic and Kade Hill in the halves.
A number of players are high on confidence after gaining valuable experience in Knock-On Effect NSW Cup over the past couple of weeks.
The side has also been boosted by the addition of William Kei, who is a development player in the NRL squad and trains with the first grade team each week.
“I was pretty proud to see a number of the young guys step up and perform well in reserve grade,” Lambkin said.
“As a development coach, it’s pleasing to see that and it shows that the system at Wests Tigers is working well.”
Although Lambkin is pleased with where his players are positioned after 11 rounds, he has some concerns about his side letting healthy leads slip.
In all three draws that they’ve had this season, they had led by 12 points or more in the second half of those games before splitting the competition points.
“It is frustrating and something we’ve got to work on,” he admitted.
“We’ve had a look at the fitness and done all the testing, and that’s all fine. A bit of it is an attitude thing.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re at our best against the top team and the lower teams.
“We have to play to win games and not play to not lose them. We have gone into our shell at times, so we need to be confident and back our ability until the end.
With two blockbuster games set for the next fortnight, Lambkin is excited for the challenge ahead and ready for his players to step up and perform well.
Match: Wests Tigers v Dragons
Round 12 -
Venue: Lidcombe Oval, Sydney