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Coaching the Coaches - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Sun, 27 May 2007 11:58:00 GMT
The Panthers got back on track two weeks ago with a shock win over the cowboys and then had the bye. Coach Matt Elliott, who the GRL Phantom rates very highly, endured a tough five match losing streak.

What I like about Elliott's coaching and that of Tigers' mentor Tim Sheens is they ``don't panic.''

When the Tigers lost their first four games, Sheens didn't make wholesale sackings, he kept faith in his troops and made minor adjustments to his operation.

The Tigers have now won five straight while the Panthers must stay consistent this afternoon.

Wests Tigers

Strengths
.
The Tigers play a unique style of game.

The plan is simple. Use the forwards for the ``muscle'' side of the game, get the ball over the advantage line, and Sheens has tutored his props and back rowers to off-load ``before, at and through the defensive line.''

Brett Hodgson, Robbie Farah and John Morris present a ``clever triangle'' of attacking options.

When inside the opposition 30m area this trio go on the attack. Wherever they attack, the support runners follow.

The Tigers also love to use decoy plays and throw long passes to ``get outside'' defenders.

Hodgson has solved the missing Benji Marshall style, by acting as an extra first receiver allowing John Morris, to roam. Dene Halatau and Liam Fulton are also excellent dummy half and support runners.

Bryce Gibbs and Todd Payten are really enjoying their football under the ``free reign'' given to them by Tim Sheens.

Payten is in career best form and don't be surprised if there are injuries in the NSW State of Origin team during the series. He is a chance to grab a bench spot.

Weaknesses:

The Tigers have two weaknesses which haven't been exploited much, but Penrith will.

Their forwards can get bumped off by bigger opponents and this allows opposition players to get their arms free to slip passes to support on the edges of the field.

The Tigers' wingers are also a little slack when fielding high, angular kicks near the goal line.

Matt Elliott will instruct his men to aim high kicks towards the posts and flanks.

Brett Hodgson is very good under the high ball, but he doesn't beat the line much from inside his own quarter when retrieving kicks.

PENRITH

Strengths.

Penrith have tremendous size and thrust in their forwards. Tony Puletua and Frank Pritchard played well against the Cowboys.
They work on the left and right hand side of the fields respectively.

They will be used to target the Tigers' edge of the field defenders and their halves, Morris and Fulton on either side of the ruck.

Rhy Wesser follows Craig Gower around centre field like a drover's dog. Gower sometimes puts in a short kick for Wesser to chase.

Watch Hodgson play 15 or 20 m behind the defensive line to counter this ploy. Luke Priddis is a relentless schemer around the play-the-ball and makes many yards.

Michael Gordon (left winger )and Michael Jennings (left centre) have loads of pace and tryscoring prowess.

Five-eighth Peter Wallace loves to throw long passes with a decoy man (usually a back rower) to the left hand side of the field.

Tigers' right centre Dean Collis - a future State of Origin player, will see plenty of action down his side of the ground this Sunday at 3pm and onwards.

Weaknesses:

Penrith's physical size is an asset when the forwards hit their straps but it also a weakness.

Their forwards tend to get tired at the same time and coach Elliott makes three or four forward interchanges around the 20 to 25 minute mark in the first half.

VERDICT:

I think the Panthers can cause an upset and win in a high scoring encounter by seven points. Watch for field goals in this game, late in the second half if either team is in front by six or 12 points. - Read More, Here