Five Wests Tigers players featured in the third and final round of the 2014 Four Nations as Australia and New Zealand confirmed their places in Sunday's Final.
Starting on Saturday in Dunedin, Martin Taupau and Adam Blair took the field for New Zealand as they looked to continue their unbeaten record in the tournament so far.
The hosts got off to a bright start with Jason Nightingale touching down for a four-pointer in just the second minute of play, but their lead soon turned into a deficit when wingers Ryan Hall and Josh Charnley scored to give England a 8-6 lead.
Nightingale's second try 10 minutes before the half-time interval saw the Kiwis restore their lead and take a 12-8 advantage into the main break.
Another international try for Manu Vatuvei saw Steven Kearney's side extend their lead even further in the 45th minute, before try-scoring phenom Hall continued his rich run of international form to cut the hosts lead to 16-14 after 56 minutes.
Both teams would have chances to post points in the final quarter of the match but would be unable to do so — giving New Zealand a narrow two-point victory that ensured they would feature in next Sunday's Four Nations Final.
Kiwis fullback Peta Hiku led the way on the ground with a standout 155 metres from 16 runs while England forward Brett Ferres topped the tackle count with 42.
Three Wests Tigers players would take the field on Sunday at a packed WIN Stadium in Wollongong as Australia looked to keep their hopes at progressing through to the Four Nations Final alive as they took on an impressive Samoan outfit.
Heavily favoured to win the match, the Kangaroos — which featured Wests Tigers forward Aaron Woods — quickly took control of the match, with tries to Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis giving Australia a 10-6 lead after just 11 minutes.
Samoa would hit back shortly after, though, and it would be Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona (who again featured in the unfamiliar position of fullback for the visitors) who did the damage. The dynamic outside back put a great fend on Cameron Smith before using his sharp footwork to beat Woods and score his first international Test try next to the uprights, and reduce the hosts' lead to 10-6 after 20 minutes.
Determined not to miss out on their spot in the Final, Tim Sheens' side seemingly kicked up a gear as Inglis, Daly Cherry-Evans and debutant David Klemmer all crossed for four-pointers to give Australia a 28-6 lead at half-time.
They would continue the attacking onslaught after the break too, with Cronk, Josh Papalii and Josh Mansour all getting across the line for the Kangaroos, while tries to Ben Roberts and David Fa'alogo helped narrow the margin a little for Samoa.
Australia would end the match with a 44-18 victory, which ensured they will again feature in the Four Nations Final next Sunday night in Wellington.
Unsurprisingly, Cameron Smith led the way with 42 tackles on the day while Mansour amassed a staggering 210 metres on the ground from his 12 runs.
2014 Four Nations: Third Round Results
Game V, Dunedin — New Zealand 16 (Nightingale 2, Vatuvei tries; Johnson 2/3 goals) def. England 14 (Hall 2, Charnley tries; Widdop 1/3 goals)
Game VI: Wollongong, Australia — Australia 44 (Cronk 2, Inglis 2, Cherry-Evans, Klemmer, Papalii, Mansour tries; Cherry Evans 2/2, Smith 4/6 goals) def. Samoa 18 (Simona, Roberts, Fa'alogo tries; Lafai 3/3 goals)
2014 Four Nations: Wests Tigers Players Stats
|Adam Blair (New Zealand)||Front Row||10||77m||27|
|Martin Taupau (New Zealand)||Front Row||4||41m||7|
|Tim Simona (Samoa)||Fullback||9||67m||2|
|Sauaso Sue (Samoa)||Lock||11||109m||21|
|Aaron Woods (Australia)||Front Row||11||124m||30|
2014 Four Nations: Grand Final
Australia will look to defend their Four Nations crown when they take on New Zealand in the 2014 Four Nations Final on Saturday, November 15.
Kickoff for the match is at 6:45pm AEST at Westpac Stadium, Wellington.