Lacklustre effort jeopardises top eight hopes

All bark, no bite: The Wests Tigers might have made a show of toughness in the form of former Panther Tim Grant, but their performance on Friday was severely lacking. Picture: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images
All bark, no bite: The Wests Tigers might have made a show of toughness in the form of former Panther Tim Grant, but their performance on Friday was severely lacking. Picture: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

The Wests Tigers loss at the weekend has all but ruled the team out of a finals appearance this year.

Mathematically, sitting three points outside the top eight, they could still make an appearance in the second week of September.

Teams above them would have to lose and they’d need to win both their remaining games – against the Warriors and the Raiders – to stay in contention.

But given Friday’s performance, it doesn’t seem likely.

The weeks with Luke Brooks on the sidelines seemed to have lit a flame in Mitchell Moses, who dominated the field in the Tigers’ recent wins.

But with his halves partner returning, Moses didn’t shine and Brooks didn’t shine and this made their performance dull.

The Penrith Panthers were all over the visitors, leading at half-time by 28-4 despite the boys in orange, black and white striking first blood with a Josh Addo-Carr try.

Moses was unable to convert the Melbourne-bound winger’s four-pointer, adding to his increasing number of failed goal kicks this year.

It’s time to hand the kicking tee back to Jordan Rankin, who, despite impressive performances at both wing and fullback, has not been rewarded with the game time he deserves.

That said, Rankin was certainly no James Tedesco with the number one on his back, consistently falling victim to Panthers young gun Nathan Cleary’s sky-high spiral kicks.

Wests’ finals chances were disappearing as fast as Kevin Naiqama’s fabulous hair (RIP flattop) as the Panthers ran in try after try.

Seven Penrith players crossed the line, to the Tigers two (Moses added a consolation try with quite a brilliant effort in the 63rd minute).

Defence was abysmal and not up to scratch for a first-grade team.

If the Tigers are any chance of making the top eight – which, let’s face it, they’re not – this needs to be their number one priority.