A spirited Wests Tigers team have gond down 28-12 to the St. George-Illawarra Dragons in their Round 20 clash on Sunday afternoon at ANZ Stadium.
Despite trailing 22-0 at the break, the hosts threatened to pull off a sensational upset with two quick tries to start the second half, but they were unable to run down their opponents in the end in front of a crowd of 22,618 at ANZ Stadium.
The hosts threatened to pull off a sensational upset as they came out firing in the second half with two — despite trailing 22-0 — but they were unable to run down the Dragons in the end as the visitors held strong for a 16-point win on the day.
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It was Wests Tigers who threatened to score first after going close through Aaron Woods, Keith Lulia and Tim Simona in the opening stanza of the match, but they were unable to make their early dominance count over their opponents.
And it would soon come back to haunt them, with the Dragons crossing for first points of the match in the 20th minute through Gareth Widdop, who dived on Brett Morris’ kick following a break from the winger down the left wing.
The Englishman converted his own try to push the lead to 6-0.
Benji Marshall took the ensuing kickoff dead in-goal from Pat Richards, but the decision was ruled to be a penalty for the visitors — a costly decision as the Dragons were able to establish good field position for an attacking set.
The visitors soon used that good position to post the next points of the match, with Morris batting down Widdop’s kick for Gerard Beale to score.
Widdop then added the extras to make the score 12-0 after 27 minutes.
After an attacking chance for Keith Lulia went astray in the final pass, Widdop continued to reap havoc for the visitors as he bagged his second try of the day — this time following up on a kick from Mitch Rein after he made a break through the middle.
Widdop converted his own try to push the score to 18-0 after 32 minutes.
Adam Quinlan was denied a try in the 36th minute after an obstruction ruling against Luke Brooks, and Wests Tigers would nearly make it pay, before Tim Simona was denied a try after coming very close to grounding it in-goal.
The video referees were unable to find evidence to overturn the on-field decision, and it cost Simona the chance to reduce the margin before half-time.
That decision would prove crucial for Wests Tigers, as Jason Nightingale touched down on the stroke of half-time to extend the Dragons’ lead to 22-0 at the break.
The hosts came out firing to start the second half, and it quickly turned into points, with Blake Austin selling the dummy to score under the posts.
Richards converted to make the score 22-6 after 48 minutes.
A determined run from Robbie Farah saw Wests Tigers reduce the margin even further just moments later, with a successful conversion from Richards taking the score to 22-12 with just over 25 minutes remaining in the match.
A penalty against Brooks for an offside in the 58th minute saw Widdop take the two and push the margin to 24-12 as the crowd started to come to life.
The Dragons soon put to bed any chance of a comeback when Widdop created an overlap down the left edge — spiraling a pass to Beale, who offloaded to Morris outside him to cross for the simplest of tries with 10 minutes to play.
Widdop couldn’t add the extras, and the score remained 28-12.
Wests Tigers would throw everything at the visitors late, but they would be unable to break the Dragons’ line, as the visitors held strong for the two points.
Final: St. George-Illawarra Dragons 28 def. Wests Tigers 12