Tigers find ‘missing key’ to revival; Bunnies bolter stamps Origin claims

The Wests’ Tigers resurgence and CommBank Stadium good vibes has continued Saturday night in a second straight one-point thrilling upset finished by the man who’s spot in the side was questioned seven days ago.

“It’s Luke Brooks this time, it’s a dream,” Dan Ginnane said on Fox League.

A charge-down field goal attempt with less than two minutes to go from Damien Cook led to accidental off-side giving the Tigers’ a full-set, and unlike last week against the Eels when finished by Jackson Hastings, Brooks slotted the one pointer for the 23-22 win over South Sydney.

Rewind six days, coach Michael Maguire was under pressure, Luke Brooks was maligned and the Tigers were winless and looking down the barrel of six straight defeats to start the season.

And within six days, the favoured cellar dwellers for 2022 have beaten Parramatta and Souths by one, both tipped for top four.

Brooks’ 70-metre sprint looked to give the Rabbitohs a 10-point gap, but a Keaon Koloamatangi try tied the scores at 22-all.

Yet the mounting error count and injury toll for the Rabbitohs cost the visitors significantly in the end. Souths finished with 16 errors to three, more than the 14 they have averaged all season, and completed just 67%.

The stewardship of Jackson Hastings freed up the now Tigers’ five-eighth Brooks yet again, who played minimal time at dummy-half and did throw in a few errors, but as he did last week in the one-point win over Parramatta looked far more relaxed.

A lovely sleight of hand from fullback Daine Laurie to set up David Nofoaluma for the first try of the evening to make it five in his past five games at the venue and he finished with a double.

In the process, Souths lost centre Taane Milne to the sin bin for a late hit effectively reducing Souths to 15 with Hame Sele concussed minutes earlier, the first of many injuries for Souths that left them with just 14 fit men at one stage.

Souths ran in two tries while Milne was off the field, but Tigers responded with one of their own to give them the half-time lead while Alex Twal was in the bin.

A pivotal moment was a Campbell Graham break in the first half ultimately diffused by replacement hooker Jacob Liddle cutting down Lachlan Ilias, finishing what looked to be a certain try.

“What an incredible passage that was,” Greg Alexander said on Fox. “That was one of the great chases from Jacob Liddle to mow down Lachlan Ilias a metre out from the line.”


Jackson Hastings put in another stellar performance for the Tigers in the halfback role, culminating in a second field-goal victory.

In only his second game in the No.7, Hastings looked at home, directing his teammates and being the organiser the Tigers so desperately needed at the start of the season.

Against the Eels, Hastings was key to getting the win and again has shown why Maguire placed his faith in him to control the side after a last gasp victory over another title contender.

The Tigers coach swapped Luke Brooks and Hastings, hoping to unlock his marquee player’s running game, but has also unearthed a playmaking gun.

Fox League’s commentators made some foreshadowing comments at halftime, as the Tigers managed to win their second game of the season.

“The way this man is going, the way he is steering the Tigers around you wouldn’t doubt they can hold their lead,’ Dan Ginnane said.

“Off the back of what he did against the Eels on Easter Monday, it has been another incredible performance by Jackson Hastings,” Greg Alexander said.

“He is marshalling his team, he is telling them where to go and what they need to do, and that’s been missing from the Tigers so he holds the keys to the Tigers victory, he needs a lot to happen around him, but he is the key man for Wests Tigers.”

Fellow playmaker Luke Brooks spoke highly of his halves partner, explaining how his leadership has allowed the Tigers to emerge from a form slump.

“He just is taking control and led the team around, that came out naturally in him, he is a natural leader,” Brooks said.

“It eases the pressure on me and it just allowed me to just come in when I want the ball and I think he has been enormous for me so I can’t thank him enough.”

Fox League’s panel of experts also praised Hastings, explaining they were surprised he has unlocked Brooks so quickly.

“Did we expect Hastings to unlock Brooks as much as he had?” Braith Anasta asked.

“In short the answer is no, but if you have a look at Hastings career, he has done a hell of a job at Salford, played in big games and big moments and the way that he has introduced himself to Tigers fans has been great,” Cronk said.


After five round of the 2022 season, it would have been easy for Luke Brooks to crumble.

Pressure was heaping on the Tigers marquee playmaker from all angles and many believed the merger club had no answers.

Michael Maguire, in a last-ditch attempt to revitalise his side, swapped Brooks and Hastings’ positions in the playmaking roles once the now halfback served a suspension for a dangerous tackle.

Again, pressure was mounting to deliver and Maguire’s job was said to be on the line.

The Tigers managed a last-ditch field-goal victory over the high-flying Eels on Easter Monday, with Jackson Hastings coming away the hero.

On Saturday night, it was Luke Brooks turn.

Brooks stepped up when his team needed it most, shrugging off the outside noise and delivering a perfect field goal which sailed over the black dot to topple the Rabbitohs, proving the Tigers Easter win was no fluke.

That wasn’t Brooks’ only crucial play.

Earlier, to take the lead, the 27-year-old scooped up a loose ball and ran 70 metres, burning the Rabbitohs chasers.

After that moment, Fox League’s Greg Alexander emphasised how amazed he was to see Luke Brooks attitude remain positive.

“We have seen players under pressure throughout the history of the game, but Luke Brooks, the pressure that has been applied to him over the opening five rounds, I felt for him,” Greg Alexander said.

“I thought I don’t know how he is getting himself to training with a positive attitude, to get himself to the next week, everything seemed to be lumped on his shoulders and a change of number seems to be doing the trick.”

After recording two wins, Brooks was clearly relieved, but couldn’t take all the praise.

“Yeah I feel good, it has been a tough start but these last two games have really showed who we are,” Brooks said.

“I have to give Jacko (Hastings) a wrap, he has taken a lot of pressure of me, the last two weeks I have come to the game feeling calm, and sort of enjoying my footy again.”

Fox League’s experts praised Brooks in the post-match coverage.

“I haven’t seen Luke Brooks like this for a long time Benji,” Braith Anasta said.

“The fact that he had the confidence to go out and play footy and not worry about controlling the side is helping him,” Benji Marshall said.

“Seeing him talk after the game and talk about his feelings, he doesn’t really talk like that and I think these last couple of weeks, he would never say it was hard, but it would have been hard.”

Source: foxsports.com