Wests Tigers have been defeated 40-8 by the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in their Round 18 clash on Friday night at Brookvale Oval.
It was a disappointing defeat for the visitors as tried to send 200th game hero Dene Halatau off with a win, but were unable to do so, with the home side running with the rub of the green throughout the entire night to record a strong 32-point win.
David Nofoaluma looked to have crossed for the first points of the match following a scrum move, but the try was pulled back for a knock-on.
Sensationally, though, after replays were shown, it was clear that Nofoaluma had indeed scored the try before the ball came loose from his grip.
The try was not sent upstairs by the referee — much to the home crowd’s approval.
It would prove a costly decision for Wests Tigers, with a penalty and then a potential obstruction call both going the way of the hosts — allowing Brett Stewart to send Peta Hiku over for the first try of the match in the fourth minute.
Jamie Lyon added the extras out wide for a 6-0 lead.
The Sea Eagles quickly marched down field off back-to-back penalties, and crossed once more through Hiku in the right corner in the eighth minute.
This time, Lyon couldn’t add the extras, and the score remained 10-0.
Wests Tigers began to work their way back into the match after the early onslaught, but couldn’t crack the hosts’ line — going close through Pat Richards and Chris Lawrence but not able to put any points on the board.
That would soon come back to haunt the visitors, as a sharp break from Clint Gutherson saw Kieran Foran back up to score under the posts.
Lyon duly added the extras to push the score to 16-0 after 25 minutes.
After Curtis Sironen defused a kick from Cherry-Evans but wasn’t awarded a penalty for being tackled in the air — resulting in a dropout in the Sea Eagles’ favour — the hosts were afforded one last chance for points before half-time.
They would again take full advantage of it, with Foran darting over to grab his second of the night and plant the ball down next to the posts.
Lyon slotted the conversion as the half-time siren sounded — giving the hosts a strong 22-0 lead at the main break in front of a strong Brookvale Oval crowd.
Wests Tigers started much stronger of the two teams in the second half, but couldn’t cross the line as errors and frustration started to set in to their game. That allowed the hosts to wrestle back field position, and on the back of a bizarre repeat set call, crossed in the corner through Gutherson following Foran’s pass.
Lyon added the extras to push the lead to 26-0 after 50 minutes.
A darting run from Blake Austin following a miracle try-saver on Jamie Buhrer moments earlier gave Wests Tigers great field position to launch an attacking raid, and they soon crossed in the left corner through Keith Lulia.
With Pat Richards off the field due to a groin complaint, Austin took over kicking duties, but was unable to add the extras from the sideline.
That saw the scoreline read 28-4 with just over 20 minutes left to play.
A great cut-out ball from Mitch Moses found Nofoaluma in the corner with just over 10 minutes to play — giving fans a glimpse of what the future holds for the club — but it brought little joy on the night as the hosts held on to a strong lead.
Austin’s missed conversion saw the scoreline read 28-8 after 69 minutes.
However, it would be the hosts who would have the final say on the scoreboard, with Brett Stewart swooping to score off an inside ball from Daly Cherry-Evans.
The try was checked with the video referee with Jamie Lyon appearing to hold Robbie Farah off the ball in the process, but the try stood. The captain then added the extras for a 34-8 lead with just three minutes left in the match.
Cherry-Evans would cross for a late try to push the scoreline out even more — kicking ahead a grubber from Stewart to score next to the posts.
Lyon converted to give the hosts a final 40-8 winning margin as time expired.
Final: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 40 def. Wests Tigers 8
Earlier, it was a tough night out for Wests Tigers' NYC side, who saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end with a 40-32 defeat against the Sea Eagles.