Wests Tigers have inspirationally battled injuries and errors to emerge with a 23-20 win against the Newcastle Knights at Hunter Stadium.
Despite losing several players to injury throughout the match and allowing the hosts plenty of field position, the visitors were able to grit their teeth and emerge from Hunter Stadium with a crucial two competition points against their desperate opponents.
The match started in superb fashion for the visitors, with a Pat Richards kickoff into the wind allowing James Tedesco to re-gather possession close to the Knights’ line. However, the visitors were unable to turn that start into points.
It took until the sixth minute for points to be scored, and it came through Tedesco — playing his first game back from a length spell on the sidelines.
Richards duly added the extras from close to the posts for an early 6-0 lead.
That lead was soon pushed to eight points when Newcastle were adjudged to be offside following a darting run from halfback Luke Brooks.
Richards again added the two with no problems for an 8-0 lead.
Newcastle soon hit back through Akuila Uate after he dived underneath Tedesco’s cover tackle to score in the left corner in the 16th minute.
Jarrod Mullen couldn’t add the extras, though, and the score remained 8-4.
Braith Anasta was taken from the field in the 26th minute after taking the ball in goal and then colliding with Tedesco — landing awkwardly on his neck as he fell from a great height. Incredibly, the try was awarded to Newcastle despite Anasta appearing to ground the ball, with Roberts putting his hand on the ball in goal.
Roberts then converted his own try to push the hosts in front, 10-8.
That scoreline would remain heading into the half-time interval, with injuries to both teams forcing a number of back-line reshuffles.
The visitors went back in the lead shortly after the break, though, with a well-worked short side move seeing Brooks feed Richards for a simple finish.
The veteran winger converted his own 44th minute try to push the lead back out to 14-10, but it wouldn’t be one that lasted long for Wests Tigers.
A great break from Darius Boyd — playing in his 200th NRL game — gave Newcastle great field position to launch their set, and a swift move to the left allowed Uate to grab his second try of the afternoon in the 53rd minute.
Roberts converted, to push the hosts back in front by a score of 16-14.
A 40/20 from Brooks gave the visitors great field position to launch and attack, but a professional foul from Kurt Gidley on Farah saw the hosts reduced to 12 men and the visitors level the match with a Richards penalty goal.
A scrambling play on last tackle saw Richards slot a sensational field goal from 35m out close to the sideline to push the visitors in front 17-16 with 13 minutes remaining — a huge point given the extra man advantage.
They would soon make that advantage pay in full with a try to Chris Lawrence in the 69th minute — barging on to a great short ball from Tedesco.
Richards added the extras with 10 minutes to go to push the score to 23-16.
Uate grabbed his third in the dying moments of the match to reduce the score to 23-20 but it would be all in vain for the desperate Knights.
Wests Tigers would hang on desperately at the end, and emerge from Hunter Stadium with the two competition points on offer from their Round 13 clash.
Final: Wests Tigers 23 def. Newcastle Knights 20