Wests Tigers have posted their strongest performance of the season to thrash the South Sydney Rabbitohs 34-6 in their Round 14 clash at ANZ Stadium.
A double from James Tedesco and Martin Taupau saw Wests Tigers emerge with a dominant win over the defending premiers without their Origin stars, and end a run of four straight defeats in front of a strong 15,188 crowd at the former Olympic venue.
After some strong attack from both teams early in the match, a great break down the left wing from Tim Simona saw the first attacking chance of the night, and it was quickly turned into points when his kick back on the inside found a flying James Tedesco.
Pat Richards calmly added the extras to for a 6-0 lead after eight minutes of play.
The following set, Taupau crashed through for his first try of the year — fending away from Alex Johnston with an effort that saw the fullback go flying backwards.
Again, Richards’ dead-eye goal-kicking pushed the home side’s lead to 12-0.
Wests Tigers threatened to extend their lead moments later when Tedesco found space down the right wing, before passing back on the inside to David Nofoaluma, but the centre — returning from injury for tonight’s game — put the ball down just metres out.
That error would prove to be costly for Wests Tigers, as South Sydney worked the ball down field and found their first points of the night in the 16th minute as Bryson Goodwin broke away from several attempted tackles before crossing out wide.
Adam Reynolds converted the try to reduce the margin to 12-6.
Just minutes after young gun Manaia Cherrington was brought on to the field for Dene Halatau, who departed with a bicep injury, Wests Tigers looked to have crossed when the wiry hooker put Ava Seumanufagai across the line under the posts, only for the try to be called back for a forward pass with just a few minutes remaining in the half.
That saw the scoreline remain at 12-6 as the two teams went to the half-time sheds.
Despite some early pressure from South Sydney, Luke Brooks quickly turned the match back in Wests Tigers’ favour, with a sensational solo try that included a breathtaking sideline finish on Johnston, who was unable to stop the halfback from scoring.
Richards then added the sideline conversion for an 18-6 lead after 45 minutes.
After some stellar goal-line defence — led by a spectacular try-saving tackle from Cherrington on George Burgess — Wests Tigers soon extended their lead in the 64th minute when Taupau brushed away from several defenders for his second try.
That lead was pushed to 28-6 in the 68th minute when Nofoaluma marked his return from injury with an incredible individual try off the back of a scrum, with Richards’ simple conversion giving the home side an insurmountable 22-point lead.
Tedesco would cross for one final try in the final minutes to push the lead to 34-6, but it was some gritty goal-line defence that was most memorable from the home side as the inflicted the biggest defeat on the Rabbitohs under Head Coach Michael Maguire.
Wests Tigers will look to make it back-to-back wins when they take on the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles on Friday, June 19 at Brookvale Oval next weekend.
NRL FULL TIME — Wests Tigers 34 (Taupau 2, Tedesco 2, Nofoaluma, Brooks tries; Richards 5/6 goals) def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 6 (Goodwin tries; Reynolds 1/1 goals).