Wests Tigers have scored a thrilling 19-18 win over the Gold Coast Titans to kick off season 2015, with Pat Richards kicking a field goal on the full-time siren.
The winger had been in the thick of the action all night — scoring two tries plus adding two conversions and a penalty goal — but kept his cool under pressure when it was needed most to slot the winning field goal from 40m out and Wests Tigers a Round One win.
Welcoming two new first-grade players in Kyle Lovett (first-grade debut) and Kevin Naiqama (Club debut), Wests Tigers had plenty to talk about pre-match, but it was the Titans who crossed for first points of the match after four minutes.
Having dominated the possession and territorial advantage early, a deft grubber under pressure by Daniel Mortimer allowed James Roberts to sprint through and collect the ball to score just to the right of the uprights. However, despite the good position for the conversion, Aidan Sezer was unable to convert, leaving the score at 4-0.
Wests Tigers started to work their way back into the match after that early try and went close to leveling the match through Curtis Sironen in the 15th minute, but the second-rower was stopped agonisingly short of the line.
Jason Taylor’s side next best chance came in the 24th minute as James Tedesco burst through the line — resulting in a sin-bin to Titans forward Ryan James the following play.
The visitors would take full advantage of the extra man, with Richards scoring in the corner for his 50th NRL try to lock the scores up at 4-4.
He then converted his own try to give Wests Tigers a 6-4 lead after 27 minutes.t
The Titans would lock up the score shortly after, however, with a penalty goal late in the tackle count to Sezer seeing the scores tied at 6-6 after 34 minutes.
And despite some desperate defence to end the half, the Titans would cross for one more try before the break — James getting a solid short ball from Mortimer before burrowing his way over to plant the ball down on the line.
Sezer converted as the half-time siren sounded, giving the Titans somewhat of a surprise 12-6 lead heading into the sheds at Cbus Super Stadium.
Taylor’s side came out half-time with much more energy and enthusiasm than their opponents, and they quickly leveled the match through Richards, who crossed for his second try of the night following a sharp left-edge move.
Richards was unable to convert from the sideline, however, leaving the Titans with a narrow 12-10 lead after 52 minutes of play on the Gold Coast Titans.
A penalty goal to Richards following a small altercation between Mitchell Moses, Aaron Woods and Ryan James saw the scores locked up at 12-all soon after.
Following a successful 40/20 attempt from Robbie Farah, Wests Tigers would snare back the lead shortly after, as James Tedesco finished off another back-line move to touch down for his try since Round 13 last year.
Richards converted once more and gave Wests Tigers an 18-12 lead with 20 minutes to play.
A darting run from William Zillman drew about a nasty tackle from Moses in the 68th minute, with the young playmaker placed on report for the incident.
The subsequent penalty also gave the Titans great field position, and they soon leveled the match thanks to a solid solo try from Roberts, his second of the night.
Sezer had no problems with the extras and locked the score up once more at 18-all as both teams searched for the winning points in the final 10 minutes.
Both teams would have their opportunities to steal the win; Moses looked to send Kevin Naiqama over in the corner seven minutes from time — only for Kevin Gordon to intercept the ball and put the Titans on the attack.
However, handling errors from Lachlan Burr and Nate Myles in particular would throw away any chance of a Titans win — giving Wests Tigers one final chance to win the match with a scrum 60m out from the line inside the final minute.
A composed set led to a last tackle field-goal attempt, with Brooks receiving the pass on the left before shifting it right to Richards, who slotted the field goal from 40m out as the siren sounded to give Wests Tigers a thrilling 19-18 victory.
Jason Taylor’s men will look to consolidate on that performance when they take on the St. George-Illawarra Dragons next Monday night, March 16, at Campbelltown Sports Stadium for their first home game of the season from 7:00pm AEDT.
Pre-purchase tickets for the match are $22 and can be bought by clicking here.
NRL FULL TIME — Wests Tigers 19 (Richards 2, Tedesco tries; Richards 3/4 goals, Richards field goal) def. Gold Coast Titans 18 (Roberts 2, James tries; Sezer 3/4 goals)