Wests Tigers have bounced back with a convincing 38-14 win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in their Round 8 match at ANZ Stadium.
Wests Tigers got the match off to a perfect start with a try to James Tedesco after just five minutes, but all the credit went to Kevin Naiqama, who acrobatically dived over the dead-ball line and flicked back in field to keep the play alive for Tedesco.
Pat Richards nailed the sideline conversion for a 6-0 lead after seven minutes.
After both Corey Thompson and Sauaso Sue were denied tries by the video referee in the space of three minutes, it was Naiqama and Tedesco again who combined to put the visitors even further in front after 24 minutes, with the Fijian flying through to collect a Tedesco grubber just before the ball traveled over the sideline.
Richards was unable to convert this time, leaving the score at 10-0.
An innocuous looking bomb from Luke Brooks in the 32nd minute soon brought about more points for Jason Taylor’s side as Sam Perrett allowed the ball to bounce — giving Brooks time to chase through and plant the ball down next to the posts.
With Richards off the field due to concussion and a cut above his face, Mitchell Moses took over the goal kicking and had no problems pushing the lead to 16-0.
A sharp move down the left edge from Moses Mbye saw Frank Pritchard crash over for the visitors’ first points of the night after 38 minutes, which Trent Hodkinson dutifully converted to reduce the margin to 18-6 as the half-time interval approached.
However, Wests Tigers would have one final chance for points before the break, with a 55m penalty goal to Richards giving the visitors a 18-6 lead at half-time.
After the Bulldogs began the second half with an error in the opening tackle, it was Wests Tigers who extended their lead in the 45th minute, when Naiqama burst free down the right flank before linking up field with Tedesco, who raced away to score.
Richards would have no problems converting from in front, and he would pick up another penalty goal moments afterwards, converting from 35m for a 26-6 lead.
Brooks would get his second try of the night in the 53rd minute after cutting back against the grain and crashing his way over out wide to extend the lead even further.
Richards’ conversion gave Wests Tigers a 32-6 lead, but a second try to Pritchard off a good short ball in the 59th minute saw the lead quickly reduced back to 32-10.
Hodkinson missed the simple conversion, leaving the scoreline at 32-10.
Curtis Rona would bring some respectability back on the scoreboard when he dived over in the 75th minute, but his unconverted try was all in vain for the Bulldogs.
Richards missed a penalty goal inside the final 10 minutes of play as the visitors went in search of more points, but he would make up for it just before full-time, with a converted try down the sideline following some great build-up work by Moses.
That took the scoreline to 38-14, which is how it would read at full-time as Wests Tigers celebrated a commanding start-to-finish win in front of 18,000 fans at ANZ Stadium.
After the international break next weekend, Wests Tigers will look to consolidate on that performance when they take on the Sydney Roosters in Round 9 on May 8.
Wests Tigers 38 (Tedesco 2, Brooks 2, Naiqama, Richards tries; Richards 6/8, Moses 1/1 goals) def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 14 (Pritchard 2, Rona tries; Hodkinson 1/3 goals)