Tigers revel in underdog tag

Wednesday, Mar 24 2021

Tigers revel in underdog tag

Will Johnston

Massive underdogs against the benchmark in Taranaki rugby league.

That’s how Western Suburb Tigers coach Andrew Frair described Saturday’s Taranaki premier rugby league final.

The Tigers will travel to Hickford Park to play competition leaders and defending champions Bell Block Marist Dragons for the Lile Shield. It will be the first time the Taranaki championship will be contested since 2018 after it folded.

Friar is under no illusions about the challenge against Bell Block, which dominated the competition for many seasons.

“It will be a tough day at the office, but the boys are pretty confident and have been training pretty well,” he said.

“We’re massive underdogs, but we like it that way and underdogs bite harder. We’re going to come out firing on Saturday.”

Tigers won two matches from four outings this season with wins against Coastal Cobras and Waitara Bears.

It made the final by default after Hawera Hawks failed to field a team in last week’s semi-final.

Hawera made a decision not to play in the play-off match but Frair said it played some good football in the competition.

While the team would have liked a game last week, a week off gave players a chance to recover from niggles.

“No one wants to go to a final on a default. It is what it is and the boys will pick themselves up and we go again.”
 Frair believed the Tigers hadn't fired yet, he expected them to this weekend.

“I haven’t put my best 17 out every week but that’s purely so everyone is available for selection.”

He said while the forward pack had set the platform this season for the Tigers, the Tigers dropped a lot of ball and played a lot of panic football.

“Hopefully, this Saturday we fire and shock Taranaki and turnover the Dragons.”