Wests Tigers have hung on for a thriling 22-20 come-from-behind victory over the Cronulla Sharks at Remondis Stadium in their Round 10 clash.
Luke Brooks was again instrumental in the victory — setting up a number of tries — while the return of Robbie Farah was key for the visitors in the win.
Michael Gordon posted the first points of the match after a penalty in the play-the-ball gifted the Sharks’ fullback the chance to get his team on the board.
However, the lead was relatively short-lived, after a sharp back-line move saw Kurtis Rowe release David Nofoaluma in the right corner, who acrobatically got the ball down just centimeters inside the corner post.
Pat Richards’ sideline conversion was waved away for a 4-2 lead.
The former Wigan Warrior would soon atone for his wayward kick after a sharp short-side raid from Luke Brooks saw the winger grab a four-pointer in the left corner.
And this time — despite being right on the touchline — he added the conversion to give Wests Tigers a 10-2 lead after 26 minutes of play.
Sam Tagatese hit back for the home side in the 31st minute after spinning away from two defenders to score next to the left upright.
Gordon made no mistake with the conversion and reduced the score to 10-8.
Wests Tigers appeared to have extended their lead moments before the main break when Richards scooped up an error and ran 95m to score, but the play was pulled back after video review due to a knock-on against Chris Lawrence.
That saw the scoreline remain 10-8 in favour of the visitors at half-time.
The Sharks started much stronger after half-time and soon hit the lead through captain Paul Gallen, who proved too strong close to the line.
Gordon duly added the extras to give Cronulla a 14-10 lead.
The fullback was again in the action moments later after picking up a ball on halfway and then bursting into a gap — rounding Rowe in defence before beating a desperate Tim Simona to the line for a remarkable try. He then converted his own try to give the hosts a 20-10 lead after 52 minutes — a strong lead given their home-crowd advantage.
Luke Brooks’ short ball to Cory Paterson in the 54th minute, however, saw the powerful second-rower reduce the margin once more.
The four-pointer was his first in the NRL since joining the Wests Tigers, and it was a huge momentum changing try given the recent points scored by the Sharks at the other end, and one that drew the visitors back within one converted try.
Richards made no mistake with the conversion from in front.
A moment of magic from Robbie Farah and Brooks saw Wests Tigers hit the lead once more, with the halfback bursting through before linking up with Chris Lawrence on the inside — giving Richards another simple conversion from under the posts.
Wests Tigers were back in the lead, 22-20, with 20 minutes remaining.
The final 20 minutes were tense and enthralling for the 15-000 plus crowd at Remondis Stadium, but they would yield no points for either team.
Wests Tigers would hold on for a 22-20 win and end their two-game losing streak in the process — consolidating their spot inside the NRL's top eight.
The win capped off a strong day for Wests Tigers, who won all three grades against Cronulla following a 34-24 victory in NYC and 30-28 win in NSW Cup.
Final: Wests Tigers 22 def. Cronulla Sharks 20