Wests Tigers’ NYC squad have made it four wins in a row with a tense 28-22 victory over the Newcastle Knights at Hunter Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors led from start to finish and posted a huge confidence-boosting win over the competition leaders, but it certainly wasn’t without some late drama, as the Knights threw everything at the junior Wests Tigers.
The visitors started in perfect fashion — posting points in their opening set — with Nathan Milone charging on to a well-weighted grubber from Te Maire Martin, and then wrestling his way over the line out wide.
Matthew Woods converted from near the left sideline for a 6-0 lead.
Wests Tigers were in again soon after through John Ogden, following some sharp work on the left edge from both Milone and Martin.
This time, Woods couldn’t land the sideline conversion — leaving Wests Tigers with a 10-0 lead after just 12 minutes of play.
After Bryce Donovan spilled a bomb from Martin at the back, Wests Tigers were soon in again through Manaia Cherrington, who crashed his way over from dummy half after selling the dummy close to the left sideline.
Newcastle opted to use their captain’s challenge and try to reverse the call, but the try stood and Wests Tigers pushed out to an 16-0 lead after the conversion.
Milone had a chance to put the visitors even further in front in the 20th minute when he burst through the line out wide, but he couldn’t link back up with Ogden on the inside — with the try-line seemingly begging for the visitors.
It would take until the 33rd minute for Wests Tigers to cross again, with powerful forward Matthew Lodge crossing for a try on his Club debut. The junior representative forward spun out of two tackles before putting the ball down on the line and pushed the visitors’ lead out to 20-0.
It appeared that scoreline would remain the same heading into the half-time interval, but a break from the Knights saw them with one chance to crack the visitors’ line, and the found a way through Sione Mata-utia.
Donovan converted the try as the siren sounded to reduce the margin to 20-6 at the main break, but with the competition leaders still trailing Wests Tigers.
After losing Milone to a nasty-looking knee injury shortly after the break, Wests Tigers were the first to points in the second half following a right-edge raid. Eli Levido fed a well-timed pass to Watson Heleta, who burst through a gap and planted the ball down in the right corner for a 24-6 lead.
Woods couldn’t convert — leaving the scoreline at 24-6 after 54 minutes.
The hosts hit back soon after, though, with Josh Birch planting the ball down in the right corner following an error from Gagai’s bomb.
Donovan converted the try from the sideline to reduce the margin to 24-12, and it was soon cut even further through halfback Jaleen Feeney.
A sharp run from Donovan saw him link up with the No. 7 who scored next to the posts — cutting the margin to just six points with 15 minutes remaining.
The Knights crossed again with just 10 minutes remaining through Brody Lam in the left corner, but fortunately for the visitors, the kick was waved away.
Wests Tigers hit back with a try through John Tohi off the back of a well-worked scrum move to push the score back out to six points with just five minutes to play. Woods couldn’t convert the try, but it wouldn’t matter in the end, as Wests Tigers hung on for a frantic six-point victory in the end.
Final: Wests Tigers 28 def. Newcastle Knights 22