15 Moments for 15 Seasons - No.8
15 Moments for 15 Seasons
Wests Tigers are counting down the top 15 moments in the Club's history to commemorate with their 15th Anniversary NRL season.
As voted by the fans, here's Moment No. 8.
The match was over. It had to be.
Leading 22-4 with just 16 minutes remaining, the New Zealand Warriors in front of a strong crowd at Mount Smart Stadium had simply outplayed Wests Tigers when they met in Round 14 during the 2011 season. Costly errors by the visitors had allowed the hosts to build a commanding 18-point lead, and they seemed to have the two competitions all locked up.
Yet with Benji Marshall in the team, no result seemed safe.
Wests Tigers struck their first blow in the 64th minute when an incredible run and improbable flick pass from second-rower Gareth Ellis found Marshall on the outside.
He scooted away to score and give the visitors a sniff of victory.
They were in again in the following set, when Wade McKinnon soared highest to snare a Marshall bomb and race away to score under the posts. Suddenly, the 18-point lead had been reduced to just six points with 13 minutes to play.
A 50m linebreak from Blake Ayshford again had the visitors sniffing another four-pointer in the 71st minute, and they soon found the line through that man, Marshall.
The five-eighth was backing up on the inside to receive Ayshford’s pass and cross next to the posts, where he duly added the extras.
“It was unreal,” recalled Liam Fulton. “We just felt that we could do anything in that final 20 minutes and it was going to turn into points.”
The final moment of magic from Marshall came in the 74th minute when, after dancing away from two defenders, he lobbed the ball basketball-style over the top to Beau Ryan.
The winger dived for the corner, and despite the best efforts from Simon Mannering, did enough to plant the ball down in the corner. That gave Wests Tigers the most unlikely of leads — having scored four tries in just over 10 minutes of play — and did enough to emerge from Mount Smart with the most incredible of victories to their name.
The Warriors, however, would have the last laugh that season, as a Krinsan Inu try in the 78th minute saw them snatch a 22-20 victory in their blockbuster semifinal clash, and eliminate the joint-venture Club from the finals series.
But even then, it wasn’t quite the comeback that had been seen at Mount Smart.
Check out the other Top 15 Moments: