Tigers spine shift an option as comeback falls flat
Tim Sheens has hinted he could shift Adam Doueihi to fullback more often after the Wests Tigers fell short of pulling off a miracle comeback in their 26-22 loss to Canterbury.
The Tigers were poor in attack for 65 minutes before they scored three tries in three sets at Belmore, after a late shake up of their spine during the second half.
The result left the joint-venture last on the NRL ladder, after a horror start to the season in which their attack fell flat against Gold Coast and Newcastle.
That was the case again on Sunday against the Bulldogs, as they failed to make any use of good ball and did not score a try from a play-the-ball inside the attacking half.
The club's poor form prompted Sheens to hook winger David Nofoaluma, put Brandon Wakeham on in the halves, move Doueihi from five-eighth to fullback and shift Charlie Staines to the wing.
The plan came unstuck moments later when Matt Burton ran past Doueihi to make it 26-6 to Canterbury, before the Tigers came to life.
Their first in the string of tries came when Brent Naden put Wakeham through a hole for Brooks to score.
Naden put Fonua Pole over for the next, before Brooks dummied from inside his own half and helped Charlie Staines score to make it a four-point game with nine minutes left.
Then the old Tigers returned, making errors in three of their last four sets, and the comeback ended.
Sheens said the Tigers had trained with Wakeham and Brooks in the halves all week.
"Adam (Duoeihi) didn't train all week except for captain's run yesterday," Sheens said.
"It was always looking better when the two boys played together.
"(Adam) ended up with cramp, so I'm not saying he was the superstar.
"But he settles us down a bit out there and dominates the call. So he might spend a bit more time there."
Making matters worse for the Tigers is potential trouble for David Klemmer, who was put on report for a cannonball tackle on Raymond Faitala-Mariner.
Ultimately, the joint-venture club were left to regret 60 minutes of poor attack before their late comeback.
The only times they looked threatening in the first hour came when John Bateman poked his nose through the line or when Apisai Koroisau darted out of dummy-half.
But even then, there was rarely anyone looming in support.
"They haven't had too much front-foot footy in the past few years. I have spoken to them about it. That takes a lot to getting used to," Koroisau said.
"It's a reaction thing, understanding the ruck and if it is quick. At the second half they got a lot better at coming out of the line."
Canterbury, in contrast, had been dangerous in stifling conditions during the first half before their late collapse.
Two of their tries came down their electric left edge, with Paul Alamoti doing the early work on both from long range and Josh Addo-Carr putting on the finishing touches.
The win lifted them to their best start to a season since 2017, with two wins from their first three games.
"We made it hard for ourselves," coach Cameron Ciraldo said.
"We played really well for 60 minutes. But the last 15 we lost our way a little bit.
"We're a new team and we're learning."