Wests Tigers’ NSW Cup team has extended its winning streak to five games with a 32-16 victory over Newtown Jets at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts had a number of late changes with James Gavet and Marika Koroibete both ruled out, but welcomed the return of Joel Luani and Inno Inosesio as they led from start to finish to emerge with a 16-point win against a tough Newtown lineup.
Wests Tigers struck first points in the fourth minute when a good cut-out ball from Kurtis Rowe found Jy Hitchcox on the wing, who did well to stand up his man and then accelerate to plant the ball down in the corner.
Mitchell Moses missed the tough sideline conversion to leave the score at 4-0.
After back-to-back penalties, the visitors soon hit back through Samisoni Langi in the right corner, which went unconverted by Arana Taumata.
That saw the score locked at 4-4 with 20 minutes left in the half.
Rowe went off with an ankle injury shortly after that try — forcing a back-line reshuffle from the hosts — but they soon adjusted to the move and quickly responded to Newtown’s try through the returning Inosesio.
The powerful forward charged on to a short ball from Luani close to the posts, before spinning and turning to plant the ball down in the 28th minute.
Moses added the simple conversion to push the score to 10-4.
Newtown tried to target the playmaker as he launched an aerial assault on their outside backs, and they were repeatedly penalized for late tackles. That gave the hosts good field position to score more points, and they soon did after a sharp right-edge move saw Hitchcox send Asipeli Fine over in the corner.
Moses added the extras from the sideline to push the score to 16-4, which is how it would remain at the main break — despite late chances for both teams.
Wests Tigers quickly picked up where they left off after the main break, with a wonderfully worked scrum move allowing Hitchcox to send Keith Lulia over in the corner for his third try in his past two games.
Moses couldn’t convert the try — leaving the score at 20-4 after 45 minutes.
Newtown quickly hit back through Kurt Kara in the 52nd minute after a good 80m movement involving several players. Rhyse Martin then added the extras from the right edge to reduce the margin to 20-10 with 24 minutes to play.
The margin was cut even further in the 60th minute when Heath L’Estrange put Taumata over under the posts following a good run from dummy half.
The conversion from Martin saw the score read 20-16, and send a few nerves through the Wests Tigers’ camp after holding a strong lead earlier.
However, the 10-point buffer was restored shortly after, with Lulia beating two down the short side before flicking to Moses, who sped away from his man and came around to score next to the left upright in the 64th minute.
He then converted his own try to push the score to 26-16.
The visitors would threaten to score again late but would be unable to crack Wests Tigers’ line. Setefano Taukafa crossed for a late try to push the margin out to 16 points once more following Moses’ successful conversion, and extend their winning streak to five in a row against a very tough opposition on the day.
Final: Wests Tigers 32 def. Newtown Jets 16