Wests Tigers have made it three home wins from as many matches with a 16-4 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Tries to Robbie Farah, Blake Austin and Pat Richards gave the hosts the spoils in the night in terms of their attack, but it was their defensive resistance on their own goal-line that no doubt would have pleased Mick Potter the most.
Wests Tigers almost crossed for points in their first set of the match after a Luke Brooks’ bomb found the ground right on the Cowboys’ line. Johnathon Thurston was on hand, though, to fall on the ball and end any chance at points.
Thurston appeared to have two points in the bag when he opted to shoot for goal from a regulation penalty right in front, but somehow the kick went astray.
What followed from that was a tense back-and-forth match that saw few chances present themselves, and even fewer look like turning into points.
Brooks almost scored in the 23rd minute after grubbering for himself, but the Cowboys’ defence cleaned it up well to snuff out the chance.
It was Brooks at the centre of attention again in the 28th minute when he attempted to pull off an intercept from a Thurston cut-out pass.
The wiry halfback just spilled the ball — which rebounded perfectly into Thurston’s hands — and allowed the Australian international to send centre Brent Tate over in the right corner, despite the best attempts from Kurtis Rowe.
Thurston’s sideline conversion was wide, leaving the scoreline at 4-0.
It appeared that the score would remain the same until the main break before captain Robbie Farah took advantage of some lazy markers on the goal-line and scooted over to level the scores at 4-4 just before the half-time interval.
That gave Pat Richards a simple conversion from in front, and he made no mistake — giving the hosts a 6-4 lead heading into half-time.
Despite starting the second half with plenty of defence on their own line, it was the hosts who crossed for the first points of the half when Blake Austin pounced on a grubber from Farah that bounced up and hit the post.
Richards duly added the two to push the lead to 12-4 after 46 minutes.
Tim Simona sent the Wests Tigers on the attack after a 50m run from a quick tap, but the chance was just missed by Bodene Thompson. The hard-running second-rower was held up over the line following a short ball from Austin.
Further attack from the Wests Tigers seemed destined to produce points before some brilliant defence from Matthew Wright saved the day for the visitors.
He batted down the ball with an overlap close to the line to give the hosts a repeat set close to the line, but they couldn’t make it pay in the end.
Simona went close himself in the 68th minute when he ran on to a short ball from Austin, but was just tackled short of the line by several Cowboys defenders.
The Cowboys had seemingly hit back in the 70th minute when Tate went through down the sideline with runners in support, but Thurston couldn’t handle his pass back on the inside and the chance went begging with the try-line wide open.
David Nofoaluma was sensationally robbed of a try by Michael Morgan, who stripped the ball to save a try and force a dropout. However, the try would soon come for the hosts to seal the match, with Pat Richards finishing off a strong back-line move to plant the ball down in the left corner after a nice cut-out ball from Farah.
Richards couldn’t convert from the sideline, and that left the score at 16-4 with just over a few minutes remaining — which is how it would stay.
Farah was helped from the field in the final minutes of the match with a dislocated elbow, and went for scans on the injury. Wests Tigers will know more on his injury tomorrow, and will provide full updates on the injury when they are available.
Wests Tigers are hopeful that he will be right for our next match against the Parramatta Eels on Easter Monday at ANZ Stadium, with kickoff at 4:00pm AEDT.
Final: Wests Tigers 16 def. North Queensland Cowboys 4