Wests Tigers NYC have been defeated 24-20 by South Sydney today at ANZ Stadium, despite launching a gallant come from behind effort in the Round 3 encounter.
Both sides entered the match with a win and loss in the opening two rounds, with the Rabbitohs racing out to an 18-0 lead before Wests Tigers managed to edge in front late in the game.
A two-try effort from South Sydney winger Damon Goolagong would prove the difference, despite a few glimpses of brilliance from Wests Tigers through Esan Masters, Ryland Jacobs and Watson Heleta.
After picking up three penalties in their opening set of the match, Souths crossed for the opening try after just three minutes as Jordie Hedges’ smart kick over the top found space in behind Wests Tigers winger John Tohi for Josh Ellison to score. The halfback added the extras from the sideline to push Souths’ lead to 6-0.
Wests Tigers would threaten to hit back not long after as both Jamie Hill and JJ Felise went close to crossing, but both forwards spilled the ball over the line.
That would be the only real chance for either side as the two teams settled into a back-and-forth match afterwards, before Goolagong increased the hosts’ lead in the 32nd minute — juggling a cross-field kick through the line before touching down.
Hedges made no mistake with the conversion and extended Souths’ lead to 12-0, which is how it would read as both teams headed to the half-time sheds at ANZ Stadium.
South Sydney continued to apply the pressure early in the second stanza and it would be just nine minutes before they added to their total, this time through hooker Aaron Booth who pirouetted his way over the line. The conversion made it 18-0 after 50 minutes.
However some good lead-up play from halves Te Maire Martin and Eli Levido had winger Jacobs crossing soon after, as Wests Tigers posted their first points of the day in the 55th minute. Levido added what was a tricky conversion from out wide to help get his side back in the game at 18-6.
A comeback looked on the cards in the 62nd minute when powerful forward Marsters barged through the South Sydney defence just to the left hand side of the goalposts to make it 18-10. Levido again made no mistake with the kick, with Wests Tigers trailing by just six points.
It was all one-way traffic for Wests Tigers when Martin linked up with speedster Heleta down the left edge, with the Junior Kiwi representative doing what he does best and crossing for a crucial try in the 64th minute.
Levido missed what was a tough conversion from out wide as South Sydney clung to a 18-16 lead late in the match.
Goal-kicking came into play again soon after, with Wests Tigers receiving two penalties within kicking distance as Levido took full advantage to secure a 20-18 lead after 72 minutes.
However it wasn’t to be as South Sydney managed to spoil the Wests Tigers comeback, with Goolagong strolling over for his second try of the game late in the match. The final score read 24-20 in favour of the home side.
South Sydney 24 (Goolagong 2, Booth, Ellison tries; Hedges 4 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 20 (Heleta, Marsters, Jacobs tries; Levido 4 goals)