Wests Tigers NSW Cup today suffered a narrow 28-22 defeat at the hands of Manly-Warringah at Brookvale Oval.

Going into half time down 26-8, Wests Tigers came out firing in the second half laying on 14 unanswered points – but eventually fell just short of victory.

The game marked the return of Brenden Santi to the Wests Tigers, who was granted an immediate release from the Parramatta Eels mid-week and provided a solid impact from the bench for Coach Paul Fletcher.

Manly opened the scoring very early in the match with Tyson Andrews pouncing on a Jayden Hodges grubber under the posts in just the third minute of play. Former Wests Tigers NYC player Manaia Rudolph added the extras for a 6-0 lead.

Wests Tigers hit back just moments later, spreading it wide and finding centre Jy Hitchcox who dummied and scored out wide. Daniel Abou-Sleiman was unsuccessful with the goal and the score remained 6-4 after eight minutes.

It was Hitchcox at it again not long after, finishing a move started by hooker Manaia Cherrington, who re-gathered his own grubber and sent the ball wide. Abou-Sleiman had another tough kick and couldn’t convert as the visitors in hit the lead 8-6 after 13 minutes.

Manly edged back in front with Rudolph stepping his way through goal line defence for a four-pointer. The halfback then converted his own try for a 12-8 lead in what was a high scoring opening 18 minutes of play.

Continued pressure saw the home side run in another try, this time to centre Dominic Reardon who dived on another crafty grubber. Rudolph missed his first goal of the day, however Manly held a 16-8 lead after 26 minutes.

The Sea Eagles had complete control of the match in the dying stages of the first half, shown by another try, this time to winger Jayden Horo who strolled over in the corner untouched. Another successful goal from Rudolph had the home side in front 22-8 with five minutes until the break.

A touch of class right on the buzzer from Jack Trbojevic extended the home side’s lead, with the prop forward giving a superb offload to Clint Gutherson who raced away to score. The conversion was waved away however the Sea Eagles held a commanding 26-8 lead at the break.

The intentions were clear early on from Wests Tigers in the second half, coming out fired up and bagging first points to Inno Inosesio who barged his way over. Trent Jennings took over goal-kicking duties, landing the first of the day to cut the lead to 26-14 after 45 minutes.

Marika Koroibete provided what was the highlight of the match not long after, receiving the ball on the 40-metre line and fending off the Manly fullback for an acrobatic finish in the corner. Jennings couldn’t land the goal and Manly’s lead was further shortened to 26-18 after 49 minutes.

Back-to-back penalties piggybacked the Wests Tigers up field and it was Koroibete again coming up with the goods, carrying two defenders over the line for his second of the day. Another missed goal from Jennings resulted in a 26-22 deficit after 56 minutes.

Dropped balls and penalties had Manly back on the front foot in the final quarter of the game, however Wests Tigers’ defence held solid before a 72nd minute penalty goal from Rudolph sent the home side’s lead out to six.

It was a manic final few minutes of the game, with Wests Tigers eventually presented with a scrum 35 metres out with two seconds remaining on the clock. Cherrington received a pass behind him in the final play that he couldn’t handle and the final whistle was subsequently blown.

Manly Warringah 28 (Andrews, Rudolph, Reardon, Horo, Gutherson tries; Rudolph 4 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 22 (Hitchcox 2, Koroibete 2, Inosesio tries; Jennings 1 goal)