Wests Tigers have made it back-to-back wins to the start the year for the first time since 2008 with an 22-4 win over the St. George-Illawarra Dragons.
After racing to a 20-0 lead inside the opening half hour of the game thanks to tries from James Tedesco, Kevin Naiqama and Pat Richards, Wests Tigers never looked in danger of losing the match from start to finish, despite some slopping handling later on.
The win continues the Club’s perfect start to the 2015 season, recording back-to-back wins to start the year for just the third time in the Club’s history.
It was Tedesco who opened up the Dragons defence for the first points of the match after just six minutes, with the fullback darting through a gap close to the line before offloading spectacularly for Naiqama to cross in the right corner.
Richards was unable to convert the Fijian international’s first NRL try for Wests Tigers and the scoreline remained 4-0 in favour of the hosts.
As the Dragons continued to come up with errors inside their own half, Wests Tigers took full advantage of that with a well-weighted kick from Luke Brooks finding his flying fullback — giving Tedesco his first NRL try at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
However, Richards was again unable to add the extras, leaving the score at 8-0.
The winger would have a chance to redeem himself just moments afterwards, though, with a lovely back-line move involving Tedesco seeing Richards cross after 18 minutes.
This time, Richards had no trouble converting from the sideline for a 14-0 lead.
Richards would grab his second double in as many matches in the 28th minute as he again finished off a sharp back-line move involving Tim Simona and Tedesco. Another successful conversion from the winger pushed the score to 20-0 after 28 minutes.
As Wests Tigers continued to attack the Dragons’ right edge but just came up short on a number of occasions, it was the visitors who managed to break their duck just before the half-time interval as Dane Nielsen got on the outside of his man to score out wide.
Benji Marshall, back at the ground where he made his NRL debut for Wests Tigers, was unable to add the extras and the score remained 20-4 at the main break.
Gritty defence from the hosts reigned supreme in the second half as the Dragons failed to put together any attacking potency, with Wests Tigers having the best chance to post points throughout the half, but being unable to do so.
In the end, a Pat Richards penalty goal inside the final 10 minutes was the only scoring play of the half — giving the hosts a lead of three converted tries — which they would hold until the full-time siren in front of a strong crowd of 11.837.
Wests Tigers will look to make it three wins in a row when they take on the defending premiers, South Sydney, on Sunday, March 22 at ANZ Stadium.
FULL TIME — Wests Tigers 22 (Richards 2, Tedesco, Naiqama tries; Richards 3/5 goals) def. St. George-Illawarra Dragons 4 (Nielsen tries; Marshall 0/1 goals)