Wests Tigers have delivered a remarkable final 10 minutes to storm home and defeat the Parramatta Eels 22-6 in their Round 5 clash at ANZ Stadium.
Trailing 6-0 narrowly before half-time and 6-4 with 10 minutes remaining in the match, Pat Richards inspired a stunning comeback to run in 16 unanswered second half points, with the winger scoring a try and setting up two more to give Jason Taylor’s side a win.
As both teams struggled to find their composure in attack, it was Taylor’s side who nearly opened the scoring in the 24th minute when a sharp linebreak from Curtis Sironen nearly released Pat Richards down on the left wing. However, his final pass was intercepted by John Folau, which put the Eels back on the attack down the other end.
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Some fine individual defence from Chris Lawrence kept the Eels at bay, but they would finally cross for points in the 30th minute through hooker Nathan Peats at dummy half.
Chris Sandow added the extras to push Parramatta’s lead to 6-0.
It appeared the score would remain as such heading into the break before a quick tap from Dene Halatau brought one final attacking chance for the visitors, and they made it count, with James Tedesco and Lawrence combining on the right wing to send Kevin Naiqama over out wide with less than a minute remaining in the first half.
Richards narrowly missed the sideline conversion, leaving the scoreline at 6-4 as both teams went into the half-time sheds in front of a good crowd at ANZ Stadium.
Wests Tigers came out much the stronger of the two teams in the second half, and after building some attacking pressure, almost created a sensational try as Luke Brooks kicked back on the inside for Mitchell Moses — who batted the ball back over his head — only for the bounce to somehow elude Tedesco in the in-goal.
Again, it was Wests Tigers who had the next best scoring opportunity in the 63rd minute, with Richards denied a try in his 100th game due to a knock-on. However, Richards would finally help break the deadlock with a moment of brilliance.
Richards received the cut-out ball from Tedesco on the wing and sped past John Folau — who clung on to Richards and forced the winger to kick the ball just before he was bundled over the sideline. Tedesco followed up the play on the inside, somehow grounding the ball in the in-goal before he too fell over the left touchline.
Richards nailed it from the sideline to give Wests Tigers a 10-6 lead after 71 minutes.
From there, the flood gates opened for Wests Tigers, with Tim Simona flicking brilliantly for Richards to cross for a four-pointer of his own in the 77th minute.
After Will Hopoate was adjudged to have collected Richards high in the process of scoring, the visitors were awarded an eight point try, which Richards took full advantage of by converting from the sideline as well as the penalty from in front.
The veteran winger then capped off a perfect afternoon by breaking free in the final minute of the match and kicking for Brooks, who patiently waited before falling on the ball in-goal to pick up his second four-pointer from his past two matches.
Richards was unable to add the extras, leaving the score at 22-6, which is how the score would read at full-time as Wests Tigers celebrated back-to-back wins over the Eels.
Wests Tigers will look to consolidate on today’s performance when they take on the New Zealand Warriors in Round 6 at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday, April 11.
NRL FULL TIME — Wests Tigers 22 (Naiqama, Tedesco, Richards, Brooks tries; Richards 3/4 goals) def. Parramatta Eels 6 (Peats tries; Sandow 1/1 goals)