Wests Tigers’ NSW Cup squad have been defeated 28-18 by a determined Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs side on Saturday afternoon at Leichhardt Oval. The loss now leaves Wests Tigers clinging to a top-four spot, with an improvement needed over the coming weeks to ensure that they remain inside the top four as the finals loom in the near future.

After going close through both John Sila and Brenden Santi, it was Joel Luani who grabbed first points of the day for the hosts in the 17th minute.

The hooker dived over next to the posts following a good run from Jarred Farlow the play before — allowing Jack Madden to add the extras for a 6-0 lead.

The visitors would soon hit back, though, with a darting run from halfback Lindon McGrady breaking the line close to the posts. He was originally stopped by Kurtis Rowe, but was able to get the pass away for Adam Elliott, who ran around to score next to the posts in the 22nd minute.

Templeman added the extras to level the match at 6-all.

A sharp ball from Templeman saw winger Tyrone Philips burst away down the right flank, with the five-eighth backing up on the inside to streak away from the cover defence to again score next to the uprights in the 26th minute.

Another simple conversion saw the visitors lead 12-6.

As Wests Tigers continued to threaten the visitors’ line, it appeared they would level the match as half-time approached, but a great piece of individual skill from Templeman to block Madden’s grubber and then run 90m to score saw the Bulldogs push their lead out to 16-6 with a minute to go in the half.

Templeman this time couldn’t convert his own try, and the 16-6 scoreline remained at the same at the half-time break.

Despite starting the stronger of the two in the second half, Wests Tigers couldn’t turn their good start into points. It would soon come back to haunt the hosts, with a sharp kick from Brad Clark allowing Philips to get in behind Sila on the right wing and touch down just inside the dead-ball line.

Templeman coverted from the sideline to push the lead to 22-6 after 49 minutes.

The hosts hit back in the 55th minute through Setefano Taukafa, who did well to take Farlow’s cross-field kick and plant the ball down out wide.

Madden, however, couldn’t add the extras, and the score remained 22-10.

Another great kick from Farlow back on the inside saw Corey Brown grab his first try of the afternoon in the 59th minute, but Madden couldn’t add the extras to reduce the score even further — leaving it at 22-14.

However, just as the hosts threatened to work their way back into the match, Sila made an error off the kickoff to give the Bulldogs great field position.

They would soon make it count, too, with Elliott bursting through off the scrum win to score under the posts in the 62nd minute.

Temepleman converted to push the lead to 28-14.

As frustration began to set in across the field, Jack Buchanan was sent to the sin-bin for dissent in the 71st minute — leaving Wests Tigers with just 12 on the field. And while the hosts wouldn’t let their defensive line be breached with the numerical disadvantage, they wouldn’t make it count on the attacking end either, with only a consolation try to John Sila in the dying minutes adding some respect to the scoreboard in what remained a disappointing afternoon at the office.

Final: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 28 def. Wests Tigers 18