Wests Tigers have pulled off a sensational upset over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs — winning their Round 19 clash at ANZ Stadium by 46-18.
Keith Lulia equaled the Club record with his four tries on the day, with young gun Mitchell Moses also turning heads as he chalked up five try-assists and a hand in another to help steer the hosts to a stunning victory over one of the 2014 competition favourites.
The Bulldogs posted first points of the match in just the third minute of the game through Krinsan Inu after a sharp run from Mitch Brown in his own half saw the centre able to finish off a sharp back-line move in the right corner.
Trent Hodkinson then converted the try to give the visitors an early 6-0 lead.
Wests Tigers hit back soon after, though, with Blake Austin feeding Bodene Thompson on the right edge, who crashed over next to the left upright.
Moses added the extras to level the match after seven minutes.
The wiry fullback would again pop up a few moments later to send Lulia over off a scrum 10m out to give Wests Tigers their first lead of the match.
Moses then added the extras from the sideline for a 12-6 lead after 12 minutes.
Wests Tigers’ right edge threatened to score again through both Lulia and Lawrence, but it was the visitors who grabbed the next points of the match through Tim Lafai after Hodkinson was able to collect his own kick.
The halfback then added the extras from the sideline to level the match at 12-12 after just 18 minutes of play at ANZ Stadium.
The frantic pace of the match continued soon after with Corey Thompson touching down in the right corner following a sharp ball from Sam Kasiano. Hodkinson converted to put the Bulldogs back in front, 18-12 after 22 minutes.
It wasn’t long before Wests Tigers hit back, though, with Lulia grabbing his second of the afternoon in the 25th minute after a sweeping pass from Moses.
This time, the youngster couldn’t add the extras, and the score remained 18-16, which is how it would read at the half-time interval.
Wests Tigers would get the second half underway in perfect fashion, capitalising on an error from the kickoff to send Lulia in the corner in spectacular fashion, with Moses tapping it on to Lawrence, who tapped it on to the winger.
Austin couldn’t add the extras, though, and the score remained 20-18.
The hosts would go in again with Moses the provider once more — this time laying it on a platter for Curtis Sironen to fall on his well-weighted grubber.
Austin again missed the conversion, which saw the scoreline remain a delicate 24-18 in the hosts’ favour with just udner half an hour left to play.
An unbelievable effort from Lulia to get his fourth in the 55th minute allowed Wests Tigers to move even further in front, with the hosts crossing once more through Luke Brooks in the 58th minute to blow the game wide open.
On both times, it was Moses who provided the assist, with Richards taking back over the kicking duties to extend the lead to 34-18 after 60 minutes.
Gritty defence continued to hold the Bulldogs at bay, and the hosts would soon put the result beyond all doubt when Robbie Farah sent Aaron Woods over next to the posts in the 71st minute to extend the margin to 40-18.
James Gavet crashed over as the siren sounded to blow the score out even more, and send the 22,225 crowd at ANZ Stadium into delirum.
Richard added the extras after the siren to push the scoreline to 46-18 — giving Wests Tigers their best attacking performance of the season, and leaving them within touching distance of the top eight heading into a crucial clash against the St. George-Illawarra Dragons in Round 20 at ANZ Stadium.
Final: Wests Tigers 46 def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 18