The Wests Tigers have thrashed the Gold Coast Titans 42-12 at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday afternoon to register their first win of the 2014 NRL season.
Pat Richards scored a double for the visitors, while young guns James Tedesco and Luke Brooks continued to cause havoc for the Titans’ defense, with both grabbing a try in the Club’s biggest ever win against the Gold Coast.
After William Zillman spilled a towering bomb from Brooks in the third minute of the match, Wests Tigers were immediately on the attack and found success through a familiar face in Richards, who also crossed for the first try last week. The former Wigan Warriors star was unable to convert his own try from the sideline, however, leaving the score at 4-0.
A brilliant kick from Brooks back on the inside for Tedesco saw the visitors double their lead in the eighth minute, with Richards slotting the extras from close range to extend the lead to 10-0 in as many minutes. It was a start similar to last week's against the Dragons, but this one would have a very different outcome all together.
Some strong attack from the Titans forced a number of restarts from the Wests Tigers, but a 70m goal-line dropout from Richards helped clear our end.
With Keith Galloway off the field, Martin Taupau almost crossed for a try with close to his first touch of the football following a barnstorming run close to the posts.
After the on-field referee had called try, it appeared that the green light would be given, but the video referee somewhat contentiously found a knock-on in the movement, giving the Titans a reprieve and a chance to attack.
They would no mistake with the chance as Greg Bird fought his way through several tackles before passing back on the inside for Aiden Sezer to score.
Sezer converted his own try from under the posts to reduce the score to 10-6.
Some strong goal-line defense kept the Titans from reducing the gap soon after, and after Brooks’ strong kick to the corner forced a repeat set of six on the Titans line, Richards crossed for his second try of the afternoon in the left corner.
A sweeping back-line move was beautifully judged by Braith Anasta, who fooled Albert Kelly before hitting Richards on the chest close to the line.
The winger converted his own try to extend the lead to 16-6.
As half-time approached, the Wests Tigers scored a crucial try through a superb cross-field kick from Braith Anasta. Second-rower Bodene Thompson flew highest to plant the ball down against his former club, and with Richards adding the extras, gave the visitors a commanding 22-6 lead at the main break in hot conditons.
Word trickled through at the interval that centre Chris Lawrence had injured his hamstring and wouldn’t take any further part in the match, but that didn’t seem to worry the Wests Tigers, who immediately went on the attack in their first set of six.
A spiraling Brooks’ bomb drew about an error on the Titans own goal-line, and from the ensuing scrum play, David Nofoaluma crossed the line in his first match back from injury after bursting on to an inside ball from Brooks.
Richards converted to give the visitors a 28-6 lead after just 43 minutes.
The Titans threatened to hit back soon after that through Kevin Gordon but Nofoaluma was equal to the challenge and snuffed out the chance close to the line by catching a towering bomb from Sezer. That gave the Tigers the ability to work the ball up field and they soon crossed the line for more points, as Taupau ran on to a beautiful short ball from Robbie Farah to cross the line untouched — where this time, he wouldn't be denied.
Wests Tigers’ fans were seemingly in heaven as they team led the Titans 34-6 in front of their own fans with 20 minutes to play at Cbus Super Stadium.
Kelly hit back for the visitors in the 67th minute after running 95m following an errant pass close to the Titans line. Sezer duly slotted the conversion from under the posts to reduce the score to 34-12 but the margin was short-lived, as Brooks combined brilliantly with Tedesco to extend the margin once more.
The halfback chipped over the top of the defense on halfway where Tedesco re-gathered and grubbered past the fullback for Brooks — who fell on the ball over the line to give the Wests Tigers their commanding lead once more.
Richards’ conversion was successful and the the score read 40-12.
An infringement late in the match saw Richards with a simple two points as the siren sounded, and he made no mistake with his penalty attempt.
That saw the score read 42-12, and gave the Wests Tigers not only their biggest ever win over the Titans, but also their first win of the 2014 NRL Season.
It was an impressive day all up for the Wests Tigers, who also posted a commanding victory in the under-20's competition. Read the full match report of that game here.