Wests Tigers have overcome a slow start at Morry Breen Oval on Saturday to emerge with a comprehensive 28-18 victory over the Wyong Roos in Round 4 of the VB NSW Cup.
Ben Murdoch-Masila was an unlikely try-scoring source for the visitors — scoring two tries inside the opening 15 minutes of the second half — with Blake Austin again showing his class as he controlled the middle of the field and set up several tries as well.
Despite having several more recognisable names in their lineup, it was the Wests Tigers forced to do most of the defending early in the match. Handling errors and penalty late in the tackle count allowed Wyong plenty of repeat sets on their line, but the Roos were unable to get across the white stripe early.
The closest they came was in the 16th minute as the worked the ball right — exposing an overlap in the right corner, but an intercept to winger Taqele Naiyaravoro put an end to any chance at points for the home team.
The biggest turning point of the first half would come in the 27th minute as Wyong threw a forward pass to end their set on halfway, only for the referee to rule a penalty in their favour for Wests Tigers being inside the 10. That gave the hosts great field position, and after earning a repeat set, they were the first to post points in the match through wiry hooker Mitch Williams.
The captain darted over from dummy half close to the posts, which he duly converted, to give Wyong a 6-0 lead after 28 minutes.
However, from that point onwards, it was all the Wests Tigers as they closed out the half in style. Finishing the half with a perfect eight from eight completions, they drew blood in the 34th minute through Corey Brown after a nice right-edge move before Kurtis Rowe put them in front in the 38th minute.
Rowe backed up brilliantly on the inside following a strong break from Inno Inosesio, which Austin converted to give the visitors a 10-6 lead.
That would be the way the score read at half time, although a final raid on the siren almost drew more points for the Wests Tigers. An ambitious chip from Austin to Naiyaravoro almost saw the winger shrug away from a few defends to score in the corner, but the touch judge thought otherwise.
His flag in the air saw the move fall short and the score read 10-6 at the break.
It was an impressive start to the second half from Wests Tigers, who extended their lead in the 45th minute through Murdoch-Masila.
Joel Luani found the rampaging forward close to the line and he crashed through for another four-pointer this season. Austin made no mistake with the conversion to push the lead to 16-6, but concern was more about centre Corey Brown, who was forced from the field with a nasty shoulder injury.
Wests Tigers crossed the line again in the 52nd minute when Austin beat his man down the short side before improving the angle for a successful conversion.
Moments later they were in again, after Shaune Corrigan spilled an Austin bomb — leaving Murdoch-Masila to simply pick it up and put it down close to the posts. Austin made no mistake with the conversion, and the visitors had quickly pushed the lead to 28-6 with 25 minutes still to play.
Wyong would hit back in the 67th minute through halfback Darren Nicholls, who ran on to a nice inside ball from Adam Shaw. He converted his own try to reduce the gap to 28-12, but with little time left on the clock to spark a comeback, it would be too little too late for the home team.
Brock Molan grabbed another consolation try in the 76th minute when he ran on to a sharp ball close to the line, but it was simply for show. Nicholls added his second conversion of the day to send the score to 28-18, which is how it would finish in front of a spectacular sunset at Morry Breen Oval.