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Coaching the Coaches - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Sat, 05 May 2007 08:31:00 GMT
The GRL Phantom is casting his eyes over the clash between the Melbourne Storm and Wests Tigers at Gosford on Saturday night.

Three questions I have had in my brain this week.

Can the Storm remain unbeaten for eight weeks in succession?

Can the Tigers play with similar finesse and guile as they did against the Bulldogs?

Can Tim Sheens (Tigers coach) defeat Craig bellamy (Storm coach) for a second time in three days.

Sheens steered City Origin to a 12-6 win over Country Origin at Coffs Harbour on Thursday night and Bellamy was coached by Sheens when he played with the Raiders.

I believe the Storm will make it eight wins on the trot.

MELBOURNE:

Strengths:

Bellamy is the best coach in the competition with nothing left to detail.

The individuals know their roles within the team which fits nicely into jigsaw.

Melbourne's structured forward plays are second to none, their big men hit the advantage line, and if they cannot get passes away, get to their feet quickly allowing halfback Cooper Cronk to keep the play rolling.

Melbourne have scored 20 of their 34 tries inside the opposition 20m zone.

They quickly find holes near an opponents line with orchestrated attack and ``flat passes'' to zooming supports.

On the left hand side of the field their attack is lethal with mighty second rower Ryan Hoffman, Matt King and Steve Turner attacking this area.

Cooper Cronk often drifts across field and either has Billy Slater bursting through the middle or aiming his passes for the above mentioned trio down the left.

On the right hand side, Greg Inglis is playing fve-eighth, roams down the right, either slicing through himself with speed and footwork or looking for backrower Michael Crocker, Matt Geyer and young winger Israel Folau.

Melbourne's defence is second to none.

Cameron Smith, Dallas Johnson and props Antonio Kaufusi and Brett White ``wrestle'' their opponents on the ground and slow the play the ball.

Melbourne has size, speed strength and skill.

Weaknesses:

There are very few weaknesses with the Storm.
However, one of their worst traits is playing the game at breakneck speed which can tire their big forwards and secondly they can rush their set plays, helping them make unnecessary errors.

Sometimes Cronk will pass too close to his forwards' bodies and when they enter the ``collision zone'' errors can be made.

Wests Tigers:

Strengths:

Tim Sheens is also a wonderful coach.

He has developed a host of young and skilled players in his tenure at the Tigers and their performance to win the 2005 NRL grand final the best coaching feat of all time.

The Tigers' key four players in their squad are the fullback, five-eighth, half and hooker.

Brett Hodgson, Benji Marshall, John Morris and Robbie Farah play like a ``four sided'' triangle.

In modern footy, the players who wear the 1,6,7, and 9, jerseys are the quartet who win you the game or can lose it for you.

The Tigers are athletic, fit and fast.

Robbie Farah is in career best form. He plays in the hooking role but has the brain of a halfback.

In fact, I am confident to say he is the Tigers' best footballer _ simple as that.

These four players mentioned above all at various times during a game play first and second receiver.

Sheens uses Dene Halatau at dummyhalf a lot to allow Farah to play this role.

Chris Heighington is a forward whom I rate highly.

His work ethic and importance to the Tigers is akin to Nathan Hindmarsh at Parramatta.

Weaknesses:

Sometimes the Tigers get ``bashed'' in the physical collisions of the game.

Their defence tends to retreat during a game, especially around the rucks, as teams with bigger and tough forwards literally wear them down.

Benji Marshall sometimes plays across field and causes what I call ``sideways drift with his outside backs and back rowers who tend to get pushed towards the sideline, literally running out of room.

VERDICT:

The Storm by 10 at Gosford in a high scoring game and crowd of around 17,000.
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