Wests Tigers NSW Cup squad has suffered their first loss of the year, going down 26-22 to the undefeated Mounties at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.
Mounties had a 16 point lead late in the game, with two Wests Tigers tries closing the final margin to just four, but were unable to finish off the match and record a fourth straight win.
Wests Tigers welcomed back two players from injury for the game, with David Nofoaluma and Tim Moltzen returning and starting. Both sides were undefeated heading into the clash at Leichhardt Oval, with Wests Tigers coming from behind in their last two games to win.
Wests Tigers captain Josh Drinkwater opened the scoring in the 10th minute, crossing the line just to the left of the upright.
Drinkwater was unsuccessful with the conversion, leaving the score at 4-0.
An error on the restart had Mounties on the attack, with Clay Priest scoring under the upright, and a successful conversion giving the visitors the lead 6-4.
The next 10 minutes was an arm wrestle, with both sides working up the middle, with a number of penalties making for stop-start play.
A couple of repeat sets on the Mounties line led to a second Wests Tigers try, with Chance Peni pouncing on a Drinkwater grubber to score in the corner. The conversion was waved away, leaving Wests Tigers ahead 8-6.
Mounties hit the lead thanks to a Dave Cahalane try, with a missed conversion leaving the score 10-8.
A penalty to Wests Tigers on the stroke of halftime gave Josh Drinkwater a chance to tie up the score from 30 metres out, with the Captain making no mistake.
Mounties hit the front early in the second half, with Sam Williams making the most of a bomb that was left to bounce, kicking the ball ahead to score under the posts. Williams then converted his own try to extend the lead to 16-10.
The visitors went further ahead six minutes later, cleaning up a grubber to score in the right hand corner. Williams was unable to convert the try, leaving the score at 20-10.
Mounties were on the board again in the 59th minute, scoring in the left hand corner. Leading up to the try David Nofoaluma went down with an arm injury while attempting a tackle. The conversion from Williams was successful, extending the lead to 26-10.
With 10 minutes to go Wests Tigers got back on the score sheet, with Chance Peni getting onto the end of a Josh Drinkwater grubber to score in the corner. Drinkwater slotted the ball through the posts from the sideline to make it a 10-point ballgame.
Wests Tigers made it a four point ballgame after Kurtis Rowe got onto a Josh Drinkwater cutout pass to score in the corner. With Drinkwater converting from the sideline.
With a minute left to play Wests Tigers had 100 metres to travel to get the win. A penalty on halfway gave the team a great shot at Mounties line, with play resuming 20 metres out.
A nice play on the fourth tackle saw Josh Drinkwater pick out Asipeli Fine on the line but unfortunately the ball was spilled as the final siren went, with Mounties holding on to win.
Mounties 26 (Tupou, Aiga, Williams, Priest, Cahalane tries; Williams 3/5 goals) def. Wests Tigers 22 (Peni 2, Rowe, Drinkwater tries; Drinkwater 3/4 goals).