Wests Tigers have surged to come-from-behind and snatch a 21-18 victory from the Parramatta Eels in their Round 7 clash at ANZ Stadium on Easter Monday.
Trailing for a vast majority of the match, the visitors clawed their way back into the match thanks to length of the field tries to Luke Brooks and Pat Richards, before a Brooks field goal in the 78th minute saw the final result confirmed for the visiting Wests Tigers.
The win now means the Wests Tigers have won five of their last six NRL games.
Despite starting the match with a strong set, it was the Wests Tigers who conceded the first points of the afternoon when Jarryd Hayne found some space on the right edge.
The Australian international fullback split Chris Lawrence and Luke Brooks' defence to plant the ball down in the corner — giving Parramatta an early 4-0 lead.
Chris Sandow couldn’t convert from the sideline.
Wests Tigers had a chance to hit back shortly after but came up with two errors inside the Parramatta 10, letting them off the hook.
Hayne collected his second of the afternoon in the 23rd minute when he again found some space on the right edge. After rounding Kurtis Rowe, he planted the ball down in the corner to push the lead to 8-0. Again, Sandow was unable to add the extras.
Sitaleki Akauola — making his first NRL start — almost crossed for his maiden try when he came close in the 31st minute, but after further inspection from the video referee, the second-rower was found to be just short of the line.
The visitors wouldn’t be denied in the 39th minute, when Blake Austin darted over from dummy half for a crucial try just before the break. Pat Richards made no mistake from next to the posts and reduced the hosts’ lead to just two points at the half-time interval.
An errant pass from Hayne while attacking the Wests Tigers’ line gave Brooks the opportunity to scoop up the ball and run — which he did indeed! Breaking away down the left sideline, the young halfback outran the chasers to plant the ball down in the left corner. Richards converted, and Wests Tigers had their first lead of the macth by a score of 12-8.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Parramatta hit back in the 51st minute.
Ken Sio swooped on a delicate cross-field kick from Hayne to plant the ball down in the corner, and after Sandow added the extras, Parramatta were back in front 14-12, and looked likely to go on with that lead soon after.
A raid to the right saw an overlap created, but Sandow’s pass was read perfectly by Richards, who picked up the intercept and ran the length of the field to score.
He duly added the extras from right in front to restore a 18-14 lead.
Parramatta looked to have fought their way back into the match in the 71st minute when Willie Tonga crossed out wide, but after further review, Brooks was ruled to have been impeded by a runner and the Eels were penalised for an obstruction.
They would get their reward soon after, though, when a right to left move saw Hayne feed Semi Radradra to score out wide in the 76th minute.
With the weight of over 50,000 fans at ANZ Stadium upon him, Sandow was unable to land the conversion from out wide — leaving the scores locked at 18-all with just over three minutes remaining in the match.
A knock-on from Tim Mannah gifted Wests Tigers possession in the following set, and up stepped Brooks — landing a field goal from 30m out to push the visitors back in front by a narrow margin. That left Parramatta desperate to try and work their way back into the match, but their short kick-off failed to go the required distance.
From the penalty on halfway, Richards added another two points to his collection, and pushed the lead to 21-18, which is how it would end.
Final: Wests Tigers 21 def. Parramatta Eels 18