Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Benji's Tigers subdue Storm

Hooker Robbie Farah skippered the Tigers to an upset win last night. Photo / Getty Images
Hooker Robbie Farah skippered the Tigers to an upset win last night. Photo / Getty Images

Tigers 22
Storm 4

According to his agent, for Benji Marshall it will be the Tigers or bust.

Marshall, who had a strong game in this memorable victory for the home side, has received an upgraded contract offer from the Tigers which will be considered next week. The Kiwi legend has long insisted he couldn't play for another NRL club, given their association over more than a decade and Martin Tauber says nothing has changed in that regard.

"He has always said he is not interested in playing for another [NRL] team," Tauber told the Herald on Sunday. "He is too loyal to the fans, the sponsors and the club. Sometimes things change with time but I think that is still his position."

If Tauber's view is accurate, and the club and player don't come to an agreement, then a switch to rugby might be a likely option for the 28-year-old.

However, it is still difficult to see Marshall leaving the NRL, given his value to the competition on and off the field and the recent proclamations of NRL CEO David Smith, who insisted league needed to do more to retain its stars.

Conditions were horrible last night, more Southland than Sydney. The earlier Holden Cup match was cancelled, to preserve the Leichhardt Oval field but it didn't seem to help. There were puddles aplenty and constant driving rain.

Earlier this season the Tigers had been on the canvas; at one stage they lost seven matches in a row, a record for the joint venture club. They were hit by injuries and Marshall appeared to lose his confidence and mojo.

How things have turned. They have won four of their last five and their young brigade are starting to find their feet. They are still have some limitations, particularly on attack, but now look like a united team and the desire is back.

The Storm were without injured captain Cameron Smith, arguably the most valuable in the competition. They opened the scoring through Maurice Blair - some swift passing allowing the centre to outflank the defensive side - but this wasn't going to be a game the Premiers would ran away with.

Tigers winger Tim Simona sprinted 90 metres to level the scores in the 28th minute, after Sisa Waqa couldn't handle a Billy Slater cut-out pass with the Storm hot on attack. The talented Simona - who originally hails from Auckland - then sparked one of the tries of the season so far with an improbable break from behind his own try line.

The 21-year-old looked trapped, pinned in the corner with his back to the onrushing Storm players chasing their kick. But he spun his way out of danger and accelerated away, millimetres from the sideline. He raced over halfway before finding Marshall who did well to attract three players and release Robbie Farah. The hooker set up Blake Ayshford, who aqua-planed his way over the line from five metres out.

The second half was an arm wrestle but the Tigers hung tough and David Nofoaluma's powerful try in the 70th minute sealed a memorable victory before Marshall scored in the final seconds.

Tigers 22 (T. Simona, B. Ayshford, D. Nofoaluma, B. Marshall tries, B. Marshall 3 goals) Storm 4 (M. Blair). Halftime: 10-4

- Herald on Sunday

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