Wests Tigers’ NYC Holden Cup side have suffered a narrow 36-34 defeat at the hands of the Canberra Raiders on Monday night at GIO Stadium.
It was a see-sawing contest between two sides desperate to secure top eight positions, with the Raiders and Wests Tigers sitting seventh and eight respectively going into the match.
Wests Tigers hooker Jacob Liddle got his side on the front-foot early, kicking a 40/20 in just the fourth minute of play.
From the very next set, five-eighth Te Maire Martin threw a looping cut out-pass to find Obed Kharwin who barged his way over in the left corner. Matthew Woods was unable to convert the try, with Wests Tigers holding a 4-0 advantage after six minutes of play.
The home side struck back in the 13th minute of play with halfback Tre Williams scooping up a grubber, which had ricocheted off a Wests Tigers defender, to go over and score. Hooker Dylan McGrath put the Raiders in front with an easy conversion to make it a 6-4 lead.
Wests Tigers were quick to make amends as Ryland Jacobs made a 60-metre break up field, only to be pulled down 10 metres away from the line.
Off the next play, Bayley Sironen showed a touch of class with an offload back to the blindside for Kharwin who dived over for his second of the night. Woods made no mistake with the conversion, with Wests Tigers holding a 10-6 advantage after 18 minutes.
Jacobs was at it again soon after with another huge break down the left hand side of the park, only to be taken down by a shoulder charge from a Raiders defender who was subsequently placed on report.
After fullback Sione Alofi forced a repeat set, Wests Tigers were well and truly on the front foot and prop forward Matthew Lodge took full advantage - busting through 30 metres out in a rampaging run to the tryline.
Woods converted for a 16-6 lead after 22 minutes.
Canberra made the most of their first trip down to attacking territory in some time, with skipper Lachlan Lewis giving a short ball to second rower Kalani Going who barged his way over. McGrath converted the try to reduce the deficit to 16-12 after 25 minutes.
The Raiders put the same edge defence under the pump moments later, with fullback Thomas Cronin slicing through to even the scores.
Williams took over the kicking duties and put his side back in front 18-16 after 30 minutes.
With under two minutes remaining in the first half, the Raiders extended their lead through interchange forward Daniel Dole who launched his way through the goal-line defence. Williams converted the try and Canberra held a string 24-16 advantage going into the break.
With Wests Tigers enjoying a wealth of possession and territory in the opening stage of the second half, Lodge gave nice ball close to the line to Ray Stone who went straight through for a try. Woods landed the conversion from next to the posts to make it 24-22 in favour of the home side after 50 minutes.
The Raiders extended it back out to a six-point ball game in the 55th minute as left centre Kody Parsons strolled over for a try.
Williams missed the tough conversion for a 28-22 scoreline.
Wests Tigers put on a spectacular try in the 65th minute from their own half, starting with Martin who threw another looping cut-out pass, this time to winger Tom Satterthwaite who raced away up field and linked up with his centre Marion Seve who completed the 80-metre effort. Woods locked things up at 28-all with a fairly simple conversion.
The trend of try-for-try continued as the Raiders barged over through lock Tevita Pangai Junior, with the lock forward carrying a number of defenders across the line.
McGrath converted for a 34-28 lead after 74 minutes.
With just under three minutes to go, it was Seve and Satterthwaite causing trouble on the right edge again as the latter of the two found space and chipped the fullback to score another great try. With plenty of pressure on him, Woods landed the equalising conversion for a 34-all.
In an unfortunate end to the match, Wests Tigers prop forward Lodge attempted to kick the ball out at full-time, however he hit one of his own players which resulted in a penalty to Canberra on the 30-metre line.
Williams made no mistake with the kick for a 36-34 victory.
NYC FULL TIME — Canberra Raiders 36 (Williams, Going, Cronan, Dole, Parsons, Pangai Junior tries; McGrath 3/3, Williams 3/4 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 34 (Kharwin 2, Lodge, Stone, Seve tries; Woods 4/5 goals)