Wests Tigers NYC side have gone down in a thriller to the St. George-Illawarra Dragons in their Round 20 clash — losing 28-26 on Sunday afternoon.
The hosts led with just three minutes to go after clawing their way back from a 22-10 deficit, but they were unable to hang on and get the points, with Clune’s conversion in the final minute hitting the post and going over to win the game.
The match got off in perfect fashion for the hosts, with Heleta darting down the short side off a scrum to score in just the third minute.
Eli Levido then nailed the sideline conversion to push the lead to 6-0.
With Salesi Funaki and George Lolo both sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes for fighting, the Dragons were next to cross through Shannon Crook in the 13th minute, who reacted quickest to a rare error at the back from Mason Farrell.
Crook converted his own try from next to the posts to level the scores at 6-6.
Wests Tigers hit back soon after, though, with Heleta grabbing his second of the day in the 25th minute following a good short ball from Te Maire Martin.
This time, however, Levido couldn’t add the extras, and the score remained 10-6.
Matthew Duffy drew the Dragons back in the 35th minute when he burst free off the back of a scrum, and the wiry fullback quickly had a double after taking advantage of a quick tap in the 39th minute to run 80m and score.
Sharp kicking from Crook saw the visitors convert both tries, and take an 18-10 lead into the sheds as half-time sounded at ANZ Stadium.
It was imperative that Wests Tigers crossed first to start the second half if they were to mount a comeback, but it was the visitors who were first to cross, with Izaac Thompson crossing out wide following a good ball from Adam Clune.
Crook couldn’t add the extras and the score remained 22-10 after 50 minutes.
An error from Duffy allowed Heleta to grab his third try of the afternoon in the 53rd minute after John Ogden grubbered through for his centre partner, and the deficit was reduced even further when Delouise Hoeter brushed a tackle to cross the line out wide in the 58th minute. Levido split the conversions, though, and the hosts were able to cling on to a 22-20 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
A brilliant piece of skill from Heleta to get his fourth try of the day out wide saw the hosts take the lead once more in the 72nd minute, with Levido nailing the sideline conversion to push the lead to 26-22.
The Dragons would have the last laugh, though, with Jack Bird darting over in the final three minutes of the game, with Clune’s conversion attempt hitting the post and then going over to give the Dragons a thrilling 28-26 win.
Final: St. George-Illawarra Dragons 28 def. Wests Tigers 26