Feleti Mateo
Feleti Mateo

Tigers' win streak curse or boon?

FELETI Mateo knows a bit about streaks. He knows teams that feed off them can become borderline invincible.

But he also knows they are dangerous beasts, capable of turning on their creators and devouring them.

When complacency replaces confidence, the worm turns quickly.

Sidelined with injury for long stretches of 2009, Mateo was an onlooker as former club Parramatta Eels built the seven-match streak that carried them from 14th to eighth.

But he returned for the final two matches of the regular season and remained in the side as the Eels went all the way to the Grand Final.

A defeat to the Storm at the final hurdle ruined the fairytale, but all up the Eels won 10 of their final 12 matches to forge one of the most memorable surges of the modern era.

With Wests Tigers riding a club-record nine-match winning run, Mateo knows exactly what his Warriors side will be up against in tomorrow night's sudden death NRL semifinal at the Sydney Football Stadium.

"It's a feeling of excitement. You just want to get out there and play."

But he also knows confidence is a heady cocktail. Too much of it and you get what the Warriors dished up last Saturday night in Brisbane.

"It's dangerous because you start to force things," Mateo said. "That's probably how we felt on the weekend. We were playing good footy leading into that one and got a bit overconfident and forced passes. It can work against you, feeling hot. But if you stick to your foundations and game plans you can continue that roll on.

"Hopefully we can knock the West Tigers off the roll they are on."

Having gone into the Broncos match proclaiming they were as ready as they have ever been, the Warriors have quickly reverted to their more traditional underdog mentality.

Words such as humbling, embarrassing and panic have replaced last week's bullish outlook.

"Yeah, it was humbling for us," Mateo said of the 40-10 thrashing the Warriors received at the hands of the Broncos. "We were going pretty well and playing some good footy but now we have to go back to square one, go through our game plan and work hard in getting that sorted before we can play an expansive style of footy.

"That's what comes with a big loss like that, an embarrassing loss like that."

Pushed passes and a lack of communication in defence were the team's biggest failings, he said.

When the Broncos turned the screws, the Warriors' confidence was quickly replaced by panic.

"Definitely. I think that's what happened to us. We panicked a bit. Every play had to be a big play. Hopefully, if we can rattle the West Tigers' cage a bit, with their entertaining style of play, it might force them into some big plays. If we can defend up really well, the bounce of the ball might go our way."

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