Hobbling Marshall key to Tigers’ charge

An injured Benji Marshall may be better than no Benji Marshall at all as Wests Tigers stay within striking distance of an NRL finals berth.

The Tigers did enough after a fast start to prevail 25-16 in Newcastle on Friday, with Luke Brooks pulling the strings at McDonald Jones Stadium.

They sit just one win behind the ninth-placed New Zealand Warriors, who will now enter Saturday’s clash with St George Illawarra feeling the heat.

Another calf injury to talisman Marshall will remain a concern for coach Ivan Cleary this week though, who said his presence, albeit hobbled, helped them gain control of the contest.

The Tigers finish their season against Canberra, St George Illawarra, Manly and South Sydney.

Cleary would love some consistency in key positions as they hunt eighth place, indicating he would give the veteran every chance to battle through the final month of the season.

“He’s just good to have out there in terms of leadership and direction,” Cleary said.

“He did (his calf) really early, has had calf problems before.

“I don’t think it’s too bad, but it’s something that’s haunted him through the year.

“He’s not the youngest bloke. I guess we’ll find out more (on the extent of his injury) in the next couple of days.”

Cleary isn’t pinning the team’s hopes solely on the 33-year-old’s shoulders though, especially after Luke Brooks’ performance on Friday night.

The playmaker ran the ball at every opportunity, scoring a try and setting up Robbie Farah for another before sealing the win with a late field goal.

“Brooksy was really good I thought. He ran the ball whenever he could and seemed to be whenever he did that something good happened,” Cleary said.

“He’s progressing nicely and I thought he was key to our victory.”

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