Wests Tigers have been defeated by the Cronulla Sharks 40-18 today in Round 24 of the NRL at Remondis Stadium.
Trailing 20-6 at half-time, a second half surge from Wests Tigers saw the game the balance at 24-18 with 20 minutes – however it wasn’t to be as the Sharks sealed a crucial two competition points with three late tries.
Wests Tigers were on the back foot early in the match and didn’t touch the ball for the first four minutes of play as the Sharks eventually struck through backrower Luke Lewis. Fullback Michael Gordon converted the try and the home side held a 6-0 advantage after as many minutes.
The home side were awarded a gift two-points in the 8th minute of play as Dene Halatau was penalised for slowing down the ruck – and Gordon made no mistake from 30 metres out to make it an 8-0 lead.
With Cronulla back on the attack and looking dangerous, Wests Tigers halfback Luke Brooks managed to get his hands to a loose pass and raced 80-metres down field only to be dragged down by speedster Valentine Holmes. From the very next play, the ball shifted left and found an open Tim Simona who strolled over for his first try since Round 7. Pat Richards converted and the Sharks lead was cut to 8-6 after 18 minutes.
With a mistake coming out from their own end, Wests Tigers were again forced to defend their line as the Sharks found numbers on the left edge and winger Sosaia Feki dived over. Gordon nailed the sideline conversion and extended their lead to 14-6 after 23 minutes.
Cronulla extended their lead in the 30th minute when Michael Ennis caught the blind side off-guard, going from dummy-half himself and finding the line. Gordon kept his perfect record alive with the conversion to make it 20-6.
The score would remain 20-6 going into the half time break, despite a late chance for David Nofoaluma who dropped a Mitch Moses cut-out pass with the line in sight.
The Sharks were first to open the scoring in the second half, putting it through the hands and finding Holmes who was too quick down the right wing for the cover defence. Gordon missed his first conversion of the day, with the score now 24-6 after 44 minutes.
With the kick-off by Richards bouncing over the dead ball line, it was Wests Tigers’ chance to build some pressure on the Cronulla line. A Marty Taupau error let them off the hook, however a Sharks error gave the ball straight back.
It was Taupau who would barge his way through the Sharks’ goal-line defence in the 50th minute, as Richards nailed the conversion to make it a 24-12 deficit.
A tough call went against Wests Tigers in the 56th minute with Moses kicking what should have been a 40-20, however Feki was allowed to bat the ball back in to play despite having a foot on the line.
The comeback was well and truly underway when Curtis Sironen grubbered through for himself and managed to regather – scoring his first try of the 2015 season. Richards was again successful with the conversion to make it 24-18 after 59 minutes.
It wasn’t to be though as Holmes scooped up a loose Keith Galloway offload and flew 60 metres downfield to score under the posts. The conversion from Gordon made it 30-18 with 13 minutes remaining.
Late tries to Wade Graham (74th minute) and Gordon (76th minute) blew the full-time score out to 40-18.
Cronulla Sharks 40 (Holmes 2, Graham, Feki, Ennis, Lewis, Gordon tries; Gordon 7/8 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 18 (Simona, Taupau Sironen tries; Richards 3/3 goals)