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NRL Press Conference: Round 22

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Back-to-back victories have set a platform for Wests Tigers to finish the regular season on a high — according to coach Michael Maguire.

Although the win over the Cowboys wasn’t as polished as he was hoping, Maguire said it has given his players plenty of hope with three rounds remaining.

The eight-point triumph lifted Wests Tigers to within one win of the top eight, and regardless of other results across the NRL in Round 22, they’ll finish the weekend just two competition points outside a finals position.

“It was good to get the win but we’ve got to do it again next week — we keep the hunt going,” Maguire said after the match.

“The boys came up here to get a job done and they got the two points.”

Despite getting the two competition points in Townsville, Maguire said his side still needs plenty of improvement.

“It was very scrappy but to find a way to win is what this team needs — and to do it for two weeks in a row is what we’ve been hunting for — we’ve now got to turn up and do it again next week,” he said.

2021 Match Highlights: Rd.22, Cowboys vs. Wests Tigers

“It was a scrappy game and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

“We had opportunities there that we could’ve put some points on, but we have to learn to be more thorough with ourselves. We can turn that around and play a good brand of footy.”
The coach, who was in charge of his 300th first grade game, praised his halves for solid performances.

“I thought [Luke] Brooks and Adam [Doueihi] really controlled the game,” Maguire said.

“Adam had a strong performance and I thought ‘Brooksy’ was strong with his voice. You could really see him barking orders. He could feel the fact we were putting pressure on ourselves. Those two took control.

Maguire was also impressed with Stefano Utoikamanu after the young prop scored a try, ran for 143 metres and made 21 tackles in a 42-miinute performance.

“He’s been really good for us — a really consistent performer,” the coach said of Utoikamanu.

“Every game he plays, he’s learning. He’s understanding his style of play.

“He’s going to be a strong performer in the competition moving forward. I think there will be other representative opportunities when the time is right … there’s no reason he can’t be a big name within the Wests Tigers.”