After being challenged by coach Jason Taylor during the week, Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks provided an emphatic response to his critics in Saturday’s 20-12 NRL win over Newcastle.
The often-maligned No.7 was forced to endure criticism from some of the games’s greatest during the week but hit back by coming up with two critical plays in his side’s win in front of 8658 at Campbelltown Stadium.
After having his game picked apart by halfback greats Peter Sterling and Andrew Johns in last weekend’s loss to Canterbury, he set up Josh Addo-Carr and scored a blistering solo try to avoid an embarrassing loss to the lowly Knights.
When the last-placed visitors took a surprise 12-10 lead after 51 minutes, Brooks took the game by the scruff of the neck, throwing a superb cut-out ball for Addo-Carr before showing great acceleration to cross for the winner.
Tigers coach Jason Taylor said he challenged his young halves Brooks and Mitchell Moses during the week to take control at key junctures and was pleased with their response.
“We talked to our two halves this week in particular about taking control of the game,” Taylor said.
“It was important that they did that and I know there was a little bit of frustration at times. But that’s for us to work through.
“The most-pleasing thing was the calmness we showed late in the game because there was a period when we lost our way.”
While the win did little to ease pressure on the Tigers – who are 4-7 – it was an important lesson in how to win a football game.
The Tigers were short on polish, but big on character after being forced to play most of the second half with just two men on the bench after Matt Ballin and Ava Seumanufagai were forced off because of concussion.
Ballin’s first game in Tigers colours, and his first match in eight months because of a knee injury, lasted just a couple of minutes and he contributed only two tackles before being helped from the field.
The Knights are anchored to the bottom of the table with just one win and have scored a meagre 22 points in five matches, letting in 199 points over the same period.
Knights coach Nathan Brown praised young props Daniel Saifiti – who ran for 223 metres – and Jake King who he credited with turning the game off the bench.
“This is a good time for the club,” Brown said.
“It’s a bad time from a results point of view and losing’s not great but we’ve got to work out which old players want to help take the club into the future with the younger kids. That’s the reality of it.
“We need players that are going to help set good examples for the younger kids.”