Wests Tigers Holden Cup side have suffered a narrow defeat at the hands od the Canberra Raiders, going down 28-24 today at GIO Stadium in Round 25 of the competition.
Despite a spot in the top four on offer for the Wests Tigers, they were unable to overcome the 13th placed Raiders who scored two late tries to snatch victory.
With the late withdrawal of captain Manaia Cherrington through injury resulted in Te Maire Martin and Dallas Graham taking the reins in the nation’s capital.
Wests Tigers had an early chance after just four minutes as Martin sliced through after a ‘show and go’ to race 30 metres down field, however the ball was knocked free in the tackle and the Raiders escaped.
Four minutes later the visitors were on the attack yet again following a penalty that marched them down field and Martin took full advantage, throwing a wonderful pass to Lamar Liolevave who crashed over. Eli Levido couldn’t add the extras but the Wests Tigers were in-front 4-0 after nine minutes.
Coming out of their own end, Wests Tigers winger John Ogden made a break up the middle and found speedster Jeremy Marshall-King who raced 50 metres to score under the posts. Levido converted the try for a 10-0 lead after 14 minutes.
It was the home side’s opportunity next and halfback Matt Frawley gave an excellent ball to left edge second rower Jack Williams who found his way over the try-line. Fellow back rower Patrick Mago made no mistake with the conversion to make it 10-6 after 20 minutes.
The Raiders made inroads on the left side once again moments later as a backline shift saw centre Jack Creith stroll over under the posts. Mago made no mistake with the conversion as his side hit the lead 12-10 after 25 minutes.
The home side were well and truly on the front foot as five-eighth Lachlan Lewis made it look too easy to crash through defenders in the middle and score. Mago continued his clean sheet with kicking to make it 18-10 after 29 minutes.
Wests Tigers got back into the match following a Raiders dropped ball and it didn’t take long before they capitalised with a try to winger John Tohi in the right corner. The speedster did well to finish the move however the tough conversion from Levido was waved away for an 18-14 scoreline after 34 minutes
Smart-thinking from Tohi saw him go over for a second try, taking the ball from dummy-half down the blindside and getting it down on the same blade of grass as his previous effort. Levido nailed the sideline conversion as the Wests Tigers on the stroke of half time – 20-18.
Both sides came out fired up in the second stanza however it wasn’t until the 58th minute that points were added to the scoreboard as Martin threw another great cutout pass, this time finding John Ogden in the left corner. Levido missed another tough conversion, with Wests Tigers leading 24-18 mid way through the second half.
With just ten minutes remaining on the clock, Canberra evened the scoreline as halfback Frawley set up a second try for the hard-running Williams. Mago converted the try, ensuring a grandstand finish at GIO Stadium.
Canberra went on the attack with just eight-minutes remaining and opted to take on the Wests Tigers line from a penalty instead of going for the two points. It payed off as they sent it to the blindside and found winger Lachlan Hurst in the left corner. Mago couldn’t convert the try, but the Raiders were up 28-24.
It made for a thrilling finish to the match, however Wests Tigers couldn’t get over despite a number opportunities in the dying stages.
They will now face Cronulla next Saturday at Leichhardt Oval, looking to bounce back as they prepare for finals football the week after.