Wests Tigers suffered a rollercoaster first half of the season, enjoying a promising start to the year with three consecutive wins. They then went on to lose their next four, before winning another three consecutive games by an accumulation of seven points. In the middle third of the year, they gave up three big leads in a row, and these significant inconsistencies certainly summed up the Wests Tigers’ season, which ultimately led to them finishing in 11th position. Their coach, Paul Fletcher, could not hide his disappointment when reflecting on season 2015 before departing the club.
Coach Paul Fletcher says: “Very frustrating [season]. There were numerous games where we were in the hunt. We were beat by Penrith by two in round five, Mounties by two in round four – those games can go either way. Then we had the Wyong game, where we led 14-0 and got beat. It’s just been a frustrating season.”
Best Game: After suffering four consecutive defeats and not playing to their potential, the Wests Tigers finally put together an 80-minute performance against the Newcastle Knights in Round 15. Te Maire Martin scored two tries and Penani Manumalealii was outstanding for Wests Tigers, who overcame a 16-6 deficit to put on 30-unanswered-points and win 36-16.
Worst Game: The Wests Tigers blew a 22-0 lead in Round 12 against the North Sydney Bears to record their worst defeat for the season. The score was still 22-6 midway through the second half, but three tries were conceded in the space of 12 minutes, before Dane Chang crashed over to seal a heartbreaking defeat for the Wests Tigers.
Turning Point: Conceding a 14-0 lead to the Wyong Roos in Round 11 was the turning point in the Wests Tigers’ season, opening the floodgates of inconsistency. They crashed to a further three consecutive defeats after the loss, with two of the games almost unlosable from the position they were in.
Standout Performers: Fletcher nominated Josh Drinkwater and Kurtis Rowe to be the most consistent performers for the Wests Tigers in 2015. Drinkwater finished the season ranked second in try assists with 21, and managed 48 conversions, while Kurtis Rowe ranked second in tries scored with 17, and also broke 74 tackles.
Destined for the NRL: While he already has first grade 11 appearances, Manaia Cherrington is destined for big things in the NRL. Despite playing only half of the year, he still ranked ninth in dummy half runs with 62, and is a capable replacement for Robbie Farah in the future. Kurtis Rowe is another who has proven he is capable for the NRL, and will look to add to his eight 2014 appearances next season, while Drinkwater will certainly add to his five if he can maintain his outstanding 2015 form.
Future Focus: With the sacking of coach Paul Fletcher, the Wests Tigers will look to go in a different direction for 2016. They are a very young team that have proven to be capable of winning matches, but struggle to consistently find that 80-minute performance. The talent is there, but the Wests Tigers need to desperately aim for consistency in 2016.