Marshall and Carney facing new battle - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Marshall and Carney facing new battle

By Steve Jancetic 22/07/2011 06:27:07 PM Comments (0)

Less than 12 months ago they battled it out for the right to be tagged the NRL's best, but Saturday night's clash between star playmakers Benji Marshall and Todd Carney will be a contest for respect rather than bragging rights.

Marshall's Wests Tigers and Carney's Sydney Roosters face off at a rain-soaked Leichhardt Oval in a match missing the fanfare of their epic meeting in last year's finals which lasted almost two hours.

The rival No.6s were at the heart of that memorable clash, but they arrive at the suburban venue in vastly different shape and with the stakes nowhere near as big.

Armed with an unfamiliar line-up on a weekly basis, Marshall has struggled for consistency, his Tigers clinging to the top eight.

But his woes are nothing compared to Carney's, the Roosters nearer the wooden spoon than a return to the finals.

Much of their struggles can be put down to Carney, who has battled injury and off-field issues throughout 2011, but Wests Tigers skipper Robbie Farah sees signs the Australian representative is on the way back, as evidenced by his starring display against Penrith a fortnight ago.

"Toddy's starting to get back to somewhere near his best," Farah said.

"I know he was struggling earlier on in the year with a groin injury but the last few weeks he's got his running game back and that's something that we've got to stop."

Tigers coach Tim Sheens said writing off Carney or the struggling Roosters was fraught with danger.

"They were very unlucky last week and with (Anthony) Minichiello back they've pretty much got a full complement of players," Sheens said.

"They (Carney and Mitchell Pearce) were talked about as being the State of Origin halves in the early part of the season so their form can always click.

"Their form looked better last week, Braith's (Anasta) playing well in the second row again so it looks very much like their grand final side from last season.

"A couple of their centres are gaining form also so we're in for a tough game."

Unlike Carney, Marshall's highlights have been a little more frequent, enough anyway to keep the Tigers in the finals hunt.

While his heroics in the come-from-behind win over the Warriors six weeks ago may have been his best individual display, last weekend's big win over North Queensland may have been his most rounded performance as he combined with regular partners in crime Farah and Tim Moltzen.

"Both boys were a lot steadier with their game and that's what they needed to be, not trying to win the game (on their own) and playing together," Sheens said of Marshall and Farah.

"I thought the combination of those two boys and Robert Lui worked a lot better with Timmy Moltzen at the back, but we need to step it up this week."

Farah agreed: "We know that we've got to continue improving and we've got not only this week but a tough month coming up in front of us, so each week we've got to build and continue to get better."

Following the clash with the Roosters, the Tigers take on Manly, premiers St George Illawarra and Penrith in a run that could make or break their finals hopes.

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