Gallant Wests Tigers go down to Premiers

A gallant Wests Tigers suffered a 26-12 loss to premiers Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park tonight in round 5 of the Telstra Premiership.


In front of a crowd of 18, 866, Wests Tigers threw plenty at the home side in attack whilst their defence was very strong. A heavy penalty count against Wests Tigers especially in the second half saw the Storm dominate possession to swing the game back in their favour .


Wests Tigers lost second-rower Liam Fulton for the match through a calf injury. Coach Mick Potter called up young forward Sitaleki Akauola to make his NRL debut. Akauola played in the premiership winning NYC side last season and has been in good form for Wests Tigers in the NSW Cup.


The visitors got off to a solid start and got a repeat set in the opening minutes off a crossfield bomb by captain and hooker Robbie Farah. The pressure valve was released on the Storm when a bullet pass by five-eighth Benji Marshall was spilt by centre Blake Ayshford with winger Joel Reddy unmarked on his outside.


Wests Tigers were put under pressure by the Storm after a spilt ball from a towering bomb by full-back Tim Moltzen. The home side camped inside the Wests Tigers quarter for two sets and defended well to keep the home side at bay.


The video referee was called on to determine whether winger James Tedesco to plant his hands on the ball to score after Wests Tigers spread the ball from one side to the other before Farah put the grubber kick through for the try. With Marshall seeking treatment on an an ankle, half-back Braith Anasta failed to convert the try for a 4-0 scoreline.


For the second time, Wests Tigers dug deep in defence to deny the Storm after plenty of pressure was placed on them inside their own quarter.


Anasta landed a penalty goal from in front of the posts to give Wests Tigers a 6-0 lead after 33 minutes.


The video referee awarded a try to Storm forward Siosaia Vave in the 38th minute after referee Jason Robinson ruled he grounded the ball despite a desperate attempt by Moltzen to put his leg under the ball. Hooker and captain Cameron Smith converted the try for a 6-all scoreline at half-time.


2nd Half

The opening minutes of the second half saw Wests Tigers absorb more attacking pressure from the Storm after the home side had a scrum feed 10 metres out from the line. A drop ball ended the raid.


Wests Tigers were denied a try to second-rower Eddy Pettybourne after the referee ruled no try after Ben Murdoch-Masila placed his hand on Vave.


Vave then forced Pettybourne to drop the ball near the line after repeat sets to Wests Tigers inside the Storm quarter. Storm five-eighth Gareth Widdop was then taken into touch from the scrum win by Marshall and centre Blake Ayshford to give Wests Tigers the feed 20 metres out.


Wests Tigers were rewarded when Marshall scored off a Farah bomb that was spilt by winger Mahe Fonau after good pressure by Reddy. The ball popped up for Murdoch-Masila who offloaded to Marshall to score for a 10-6 lead. Anasta converted the try from the sideline for a 12-6 lead.


Second-rower Adam Blair was placed on report in the 60th minute for a leg pull on Kevin Proctor. The pressure in defence told in the next set when the Storm spread the ball left for Fonua to dive over. Smith converted from the sideline for a 12-all scoreline after 63 minutes.


The Storm then went back to back tries following the re-start when a play down the short side saw centre Will Chambers brush off Tedesco before turning centre Chris Lawrence inside out in defence to send half-back Cooper Cronk over for a try. Smith's conversion attempt from close range hit the posts but bounced over for an 18-12 lead.


The Storm extended their lead to 22-12 when Sisa Waqa got inside Tedesco to find open space befoee stepping past Anasta to score out wide. Smith converted the try for a 24-12 lead.


Widdop converted a penalty goal from in front of the posts to stretch the lead to 26-12.


Wests Tigers will take plenty of confidence from their performance into their Heritage Round clash against St George-Illawarra Dragons at the Sydney Cricket Ground next Sunday, April 14.


Earlier tonight, Wests Tigers suffered a 24-14 loss to Melbourne in the Holden Cup. Tryscorers for Wests Tigers were wingers Delouise Hoeter and David Nofoaluma as well as centre Nathan Milone.


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