Wests Tigers recorded a 40-18 victory over Mounties at Campbelltown Sports Stadium today in round 17 of the VB NSW Cup.
Coach Paul Fletchers men started the game strongly and a dominated first half saw Wests Tigers have the game as good as won. Fortunately for Fletcher, his men this week went on with the job and did not surrender unlike last week when they had Newcastle on the rack at half-time before capitulating badly in the second 40 minutes to lose.
Fletchers strong words during the week combined with plenty of soul searching from the players saw the real Wests Tigers stand up this week. The coach was not happy though with the second half comeback by the visitors as he attempts to get his side to be more relentless and finish off teams.
Running into a bitterly cold wind in the first half, Wests Tigers had plenty of ball in the opening minutes inside Mounties quarter but to no avail.
The home side did manage to capitalise in the 7th minute when giant winger Taqele Naiyaravaro managed to crash his way over in the left corner for his 22nd try of the season. Full-back ad captain Sean Meaney failed to convert from the sideline for a 4-0 scoreline.
Wests Tigers winger Matt Utai was placed on report for a high tackle two minutes later.
Some clever work out of dummy half by hooker Joel Luani saw him draw in the defenders to send Meaney over unmarked near the posts. Meaney failed to convert from close range to leave Wests Tigers leading 8-0 after 14 minutes.
It became 12-0 when Utai swooped on a chip kick to brush off Michael Bani to step his way back inside to score under the posts. Meaney converted for a 14-0 lead after 16 minutes.
A grubber kick in-goal by half-back Luke Brooks saw prop Michael Bullock dive on the ball to score. Meaney converted for a 20-0 lead.
Wests Tigers forward James Gavet took the field for his first game this season after returning from a foot injury.
Utai grabbed his second try when a well placed kick by five-eighth Jack Madden saw the strong winger beat Bani again to dive on the ball to score. Meaney failed to convert the try.
Naiyaravaro grabbed his second try two minutes later when he crossed again in the left corner for a 28-0 lead after 34 minutes.
Mounties opened their account in the 37th minute when winger Louis Vaitou slammed the ball down in the left corner. Half-back Sam Williams failed to convert from the sideline for a 28-4 scoreline.
Meaney converted a penalty goal from in front of the posts after the half-time siren to give Wests Tigers a commanding 30-4 lead at the break.
Three minutes after half-time, Wests Tigers went to a 34-4 lead when centre Rory Brien scored out wide. Meaney, looking into the sun and with the wind behind him, failed to convert the try.
A spilt bomb by Naiyaravaro saw Mounties prop Shane Shackleton score near the posts for a 34-8 scoreline after 60 minutes.
Vaitou got his second try in the 66th minute to leave Mounties trailing 34-12.
The visitors got their fourth try when second-rower Scott Jones dived on a grubber kick to make it 34-16 after 73 minutes. Williams converted the try for a 34-18 scoreline.
Wests Tigers finished the scoring for the day when former Penrith centre Moses Pangai crossed for a try near the posts in the 78th minute. Meaney converted for the 40-18 scoreline.
The win moves Wests Tigers to 20 points and a chance to move into fifth spot subject to weekend results.