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Wests Tigers Under 20s suffered a shock 34-16 loss to the Dragons today at the Sydney Cricket Ground, putting top four aspirations in danger with just two more games to play before the finals.

Coming into the match, St George-Illawarra were in 13th place and out of finals contention. Wests Tigers can now slip from fifth to sixth place depending on whether the Warriors win this weekend.

Wests Tigers opened the scoring early with hooker Manaia Cherrington sending in-form five-eighth Mitchell Moses over after just four minutes. Manaia Rudolph was unable to add the tough conversion, with the score remaining at 4-0.

With plenty of attacking chances off the back of penalties and dropped ball, Kurtis Rowe capitalised on an opportunity presented by Moses off a great pass. The speedy fullback threw a dummy, stepped and went over to extend the lead. Rudolph converted the try for a 10-0 lead after 12 minutes.

It wasnt long before the Dragons hit back though, receiving their share of penalties which resulted in winger DJ Harris barging over in the corner. Fullback Jackson Hastings added the tough kick to make it 10-6 after 18 minutes.

The Dragons were on a roll as winger Yaw Kiti Glymin found space on the right wing, sending Hastings over untouched under the posts. The fullback converted his own try as the Dragons hit the lead 12-10 after 22 minutes.

A great take from winger Delousie Hoeter took the pressure off as the Wests Tigers marched up field on the next set. A penalty had the team in great field position, with Matt Mulcahy giving a great ball to Wests Tigers captain Kyle Lovett who barged over. Rudolph converted to make it a 16-12 lead after 29 minutes.

With the lead changing back and forth, it was only fitting that the Dragons would cross next. Right centre Siti Moceideke threw a dummy and sliced through the defence to level it up at 16-all. Hastings hit the posts with the conversion in the 37th minute, as scores remained equal going into the sheds at half time.

Dragons crossed first in the second half as Hastings took full advantage of an over-lap, grubbering through for winger Harris to score his second try of the game. Hastings was unable to convert from the touchline, however the Dragons held a slight advantage leading 20-16 after 49 minutes.

Mulcahy went close in the 60th minute, backing himself on the last tackle and finding a gap only to be held up over the line. The tries were hard to come by in a tough period where the Dragons enjoyed a wealth of possession and field position.

The point-scoring drought was broken in the 72nd minute with a draw and pass from the Dragons backline finding an open Moceideke who went over untouched for his second. Hastings missed the conversion but the Dragons had a commanding 24-16 lead with just seven minutes to play.

Moments later the Dragons were at it again with Harris making a break down the sideline and chipping in-field for Hastings who toed it through to score. Drew Hutchinson took over kicking duties and slotted the goal to make it 30-16 just two minutes out from full time.

Just when the game looked to be over, Dragons winger Harris crossed for his third try of the match to blow the score out even further. The full time score of 34-16 hardly reflected a game that was in the balance up until the final seven minutes.

Dragons 34 (Harris 3, Hastings 2, Moceideke 2 tries; Hastings 2, Hutchinson 1 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 16 (Rowe, Moses, Lovett tries; Rudolph 2 goals)
Acknowledgement of Country

Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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