Wests Tigers have finished the 2014 regular season on a positive note — defeating the Cronulla Sharks 26-10 in their Round 26 clash at Leichhardt Oval.
Despite trailing 10-4 at the break, a double to Bodene Thompson and some strong running through the middle allowed the hosts to gain the upper hand in the second half and deliver a strong showing to emerge comfortable winners.
After winning an early penalty and gaining good field position, it was Wests Tigers who crossed for first points of the match in the eighth minute as Robbie Farah grubbered through for Mitchell Moses to score his first NRL try.
Blake Austin was unable to add the extras, which left the score at 4-0.
However, it wasn’t long before the visitors soon drew level, with Valentine Holmes touching down in the 11th minute after a good cut-out ball.
Michael Gordon’s missed conversion saw the score locked at 4-4, as both teams struggled to hold on to the football in wet conditions at Leichhardt Oval.
Holmes touched down for his second try just before half-time to give the hosts a 10-4 lead at the break after Gordon added the extras, but it was soon locked up at 10-10 when Thompson crashed over shortly after the break on the right edge.
Blake Austin turned defence into attack shortly after in the 49th minute when he reeled in a loose pass from the Sharks, before beating two and then accelerating away to score out wide and give the lead back to the hosts.
He was unable to convert his own try, leaving the score at 14-10.
A determined run from Curtis Sironen pushed the score to 18-10 when he touched down in the 55th minute out on the left edge.
Austin’s successful conversion saw the scoreline out to 20-10 — a lead that the Sharks almost pegged back when Michael Lichaa crossed the line in the 60th minute.
However, Gordon was ruled to be offside and the try was disallowed — much to the delight of the 5,112 crowd at Leichhardt Oval.
After a great tackle from Cory Paterson gave the hosts strong field position to launch an attacking set, Thompson touched down for his second try of the day in the 67th minute as he scooped up a deft grubber from Moses.
Sironen took over the kicking duties as Austin hobbled off the field, but he had no problem adding the extras and taking the lead out to 26-10.
Both teams would have chances to cross for points late in the match, but strong defence would see the score remain at 26-10 and see the hosts end the year on a positive note.
Final: Wests Tigers 26 def. Cronulla Sharks 10