Wests Tigers have ended a run of five straight defeats with a stunning 34-16 victory over the Melbourne Storm in their Round 21 clash on Friday night.
Despite trailing 10-0 early thanks to a double from Storm winger Marika Koroibete, Wests Tigers produced a stunning comeback to take an 18-10 lead into the half-time sheds, which they built upon in the second half to record an 18-point victory in the end.
After seeing two good opportunities to score early in the match but failing to capitalise on their opportunities, Wests Tigers went behind on the scoreboard in the 11th minute when Koroibete touched down in the corner to give his side an early 4-0 lead.
Cameron Smith added the sideline conversion to push the Storm’s lead out to 6-0.
With David Nofoaluma down in back-play from the previous set, the Storm extended their lead soon after in the 15th minute when a sharp run from halfback Cooper Cronk was finished off again by Koroibete in the corner to give the visitors a 10-0 lead.
This time, however, Smith was unable to add the extras from out wide.
Jason Taylor’s side looked to have pulled one back in the 21st minute when a spilled bomb from Koroibete saw Nofoaluma go over in the corner, but after inspection from the video referee, Kevin Naiqama was ruled to have knocked the ball on in the lead-up.
After Cronk missed the chance to put his side further in front as he failed to ground a Blake Green grubber in the 27th minute, Wests Tigers finally got on the board in the 29th minute through a spectacular individual try down the sideline by James Tedesco.
Pat Richards nailed the sideline conversion to reduce the margin to 10-6.
Wests Tigers quickly took the lead just three minutes later when another Koroibete error gave them an opportunity — this time a dropped bomb landing in the in-goal for Dene Halatau to reach out and score his third try of the year close to the sideline.
Richards’ successful conversion gave Wests Tigers a 12-10 lead after 32 minutes.
With one final chance to post points before the break, Wests Tigers took full advantage of another defensive error from Koroibete to cross in the 39th minute, with a superb ball out the back from Mitchell Moses releasing Naiqama to score down the right.
Richards capped off a superb half by nailing the sideline conversion after the siren to give his side a 18-10 lead as the teams went into the half-time sheds at Leichhardt Oval.
Melbourne struck first after half-time with a try to Jesse Bromwich in the 44th minute, with Smith’s conversion reducing the margin to 18-16 with over half an hour to play.
From there, however, it was all Wests Tigers.
It began with a try to Richards in the 53rd minute after some wonderful work from captain Robbie Farah and Tedesco down the short side sending the winger over.
Richards was unable to add the extras from out wide, leaving the scoreline at 22-16 but he would have a chance for redemption just minutes later when Kevin Naiqama produced a stunning flick pass to send David Nofoaluma over in the corner.
This time Richards converted to take the hosts’ lead out to 28-16 after 63 minutes.
After some desperate goal-line defence from the home side and a injury scare by Tedesco — which turned out to be little more than a sore ankle — the home side put the result beyond doubt in the 69th minute when the fullback took a delightful pass from Moses through the line, and spun his way over to touch down right on the white line.
Richards’ conversion took the lead to 34-16, which is how it would read as the full-time siren sounded — ending a run of five straight defeats for Wests Tigers.
Wests Tigers 34 (Tedesco 2, Nofoaluma, Naiqama, Richards, Halatau tries; Richards 5/6 goals) def. Melbourne Storm 16 (Koroibete 2, Bromwich tries; Smith 2/3 goals)