Wests Tigers battling kicking history - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wests Tigers battling kicking history

By Steve Jancetic 21/07/2010 04:20:02 PM Comments (0)

Wests Tigers will need to overcome a decade-long hoodoo to take out this year's NRL premiership if Benji Marshall's goalkicking wobbles extend into the finals series.

Not since Melbourne's inaugural premiership in 1999 has a team won the competition with a kicker striking the ball at a rate worse than Marshall's.

The champion five-eighth's tally of one from six against North Queensland on Monday night leaves him with a 2010 success rate of just 62.5 per cent.

It's the worst strike rate in the NRL by some way but more worryingly for the Tigers, it would leave the joint venture facing an uphill battle for premiership success should they advance to the finals.

Only once since the turn of the century has a team won the grand final with a kicker going at a success rate of lower than 70 per cent, with Panther Ryan Girdler's 2003 effort of 65.7 per cent hampered by an injury-plagued campaign.

Renowned superboot Daryl Halligan said he was confident his fellow Kiwi could overcome his recent staggers but admitted finals football would only accentuate the pressure on Marshall.

"Finals highlights everything," Halligan said.

"With the atmosphere and sudden-death games, it brings everything a little bit tighter and brings everything under the microscope a little bit more.

"The experience he had (on Monday night) was probably one he doesn't want to have too often.

"He mentioned he's working hard on it, so if he continues to do that he'll not only be better than he was the other night, he'll string a few together as well.

"Confidence plays a big part and Benji's got a lot of confidence."

With no other recognised options in the side, coach Tim Sheens said he would stick with Marshall in the role, but admitted he may need to do some more work with goalkicking coach Jason Taylor.

The best in the business in 2010 - Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston - has landed a stunning 37 goals from 42 attempts.

Despite having 30 more attempts, Marshall has landed just eight more goals than his Cowboys rival.

His four consecutive misses against the Cowboys at Leichhardt Oval on Monday night kept the visitors in the game until the 77th minute before Marshall's skills and speed helped ice the game for the Tigers.

"We're persevering there. The goalkicking coach comes back in this week and away we go again," Sheens said, while also pointing out Marshall was a perfect three from three against Gold Coast the previous week, when he also slotted home a miraculous field goal from halfway.

"I'd certainly like the percentages to be higher, but I'm not going to panic at this stage," Sheens said.

"No one else is practising."

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