Culture the key as Tigers turn it around
By Tate Spiteri
It’s been a tumultuous time for the Sunbury Tigers on field since cutting ties with the Melbourne Storm U20s after the 2014 season.
The Tigers won the 2014 Premiership with a barnstorming 48-16 Grand Final win over Casey but the next two years brought with them just 8 wins and 7th and 6th place finishes.
The Tigers were reeling, with former coach Sione Ah Kuoi revealing the clubs numbers were down to as low as 30.
But if last weekends 32 point rout of finals contenders the Northern Thunder was anything to go by, the Tigers are back.
Sunbury now sit 3rd on the ladder with an extremely healthy points difference of +58 and are one of the form teams of the competition with their last 3 wins coming at an average of 23 points.
But not only are the Tigers performing on the field they are booming off it.
“We’re all about family now, we don’t have players playing the game and taking off. Everyone contributes”
“We had 30 players last year now we’re up to 70” Ah Kuoi said.
“We think its really important we offer our players a great culture, we can’t pay them but we can give them a great bunch of guys to spend most of their winter with” he added.
One person who has been a major contributor to the Tigers’ culture is popular clubman Scott McEntee.
McEntee, better known as ‘Spaghetti’ will play his 200th game for the club this weekend when he runs out for the Sunbury reserve grade team against Truganina.
“He went to a Storm game in 2000 having never played and sat next to some Sunbury people who got him to the club” Ah Kuoi told NRL Victoria.
And McEntee has been a more than solid contributor with the veteran even considered for this weekend crunch game with Werribee this weekend.
The Bears and Tigers’ clash at Langama Park shapes as the match of the round with Sunbury a chance to close the gap between themselves and the top 2 to just one game.
The Tigers were very good when they played Werribee earlier in the year going down 18-0 after conceding two late tries.
“That was the best game we’ve played this year, we defended really well for 70 minutes,” Ah Kuoi said.
Both teams will be without their state players with Victorian players across the competition standing down this weekend ahead of the State Championships in Adelaide next week.
In the rounds other matches the Waverley Oakleigh Panthers will be hoping they can take advantage of a depleted Casey side when they meet at Fregon Reserve, the Warriors defeated the Panthers 28-4 earlier in the year with George Hillman scoring 2 tries.
Altona will be out to use their game with the winless North West Wolves as a chance to end their horrid run of form that has seen them lose 3 consecutive matches. The Roosters, who started the year in sparkling form have not won a game since the 13th of May when they defeated Waverley 46-28.
The rounds other match will be like a mini-final between Doveton and the Northern Thunder.
Both teams have an even 4-4 ledger and are sitting 4th and 5th on the ladder, Doveton will go in favourites given their superior form but the Thunder will be heartened given they beat the Steelers by 20 points earlier in the year.
Werribee by 4
Casey by 10
Roosters by 10
Doveton by 8