Wests Tigers NSW Cup side have suffered a 54-18 defeat at the hands of Mounties in humid conditions at Aubrey Keech Reserve, Hinchinbrook this afternoon.
With temperatures in the high 20s, the visiting side were boosted by the late inclusion of hooker Manaia Cherrington, having originally been named on the NRL bench.
The side got off to a sluggish start conceding the opening try in the fourth minute of the game when Mounties centre Jeremy Hawkins crossed over through a Brenko Lee bust.
However it was not long until the visitors responded with two quick tries in the space of five minutes courtesy of some quality team effort.
Halfback Josh Drinkwater placed a well-timed cross field kick that landed in the hands of Chance Peni, who sent the ball back to his centre partner Nathan Milone, resulting in him going over untouched. Drinkwater converted to level the scores six-all.
Kurtis Rowe was the beneficiary of a fantastic backline movement in the seventh minute that started with winger Delouise Hoeter racing down the sideline and turning it in for Drinkwater who did well to get Rowe in next to the posts.
Drinkwater added the two and the Wests Tigers took the lead 12-6.
It was looking promising once again when hooker Cherrington broke through off a quick tap, but a pass the play later was dubiously called forward.
Mounties took advantage of the decision and gained complete momentum of the half with three quick tries inside ten minutes and struck again twice in the final minutes before the break.
Winger Brenko Lee was set up nicely by his centre three quarter, and shortly after Mitch Cronin burrowed in from dummy half.
Wests Tigers were caught short on their right edge when Mounties’ Stewart Mills went over untouched and the lead extended once more when forward Willie Mataka found a hole to go through.
NRL experienced five eighth Josh McCrone linked with his halves partner Cornish, who pounced on a grubber kick to build a comfortable 34-12 lead as both sides headed in to the sheds for the half time break.
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Mounties capitalised on some jamming Wests Tigers defence early in the 42nd minute, when Cornish threw a cut out to find Mills who planted the ball down in the corner.
The home side’s lead extended furthermore when Brenko Lee darted over for his double on the right edge courtesy of a Hawkins break.
Cornish converted to give Mounties a 32-point buffer.
In a side being dominated, Manaia Cherrington was displaying a solid performance.
The crafty hooker was rewarded in the 53rd minute when he broke through the line and found Penani Manumalealii in support who dived over under the sticks.
Drinkwater converted to narrow the lead 44-18.
Luck was not going the Wests Tigers way the set after points, similar to the first half, as a line break from Manumalealii was pulled back once more, this time for obstruction.
Mounties reached the half-century mark as a result in the 56th minute when Cornish and McCrone linked again via a short kick and the halfback converted for a 50-18 score line.
Manumalealii was later sin binned just five minutes later for descent to the referee, after reacting to a stray elbow to the neck that went unnoticed.
Defence with a man down was a tough ask for the visitors, and Mounties capitalised once more with a barge over try to Sam Duggan in the 63rd minute, taking the lead out to 54-18.
Frustrations boiled over with five minutes left to play with both Drinkwater and Michael Bullock also sent to the sin bin for questioning the referee’s tough stance against the side throughout the day.
Considering the lack of troops, the side did well to defend the final minutes and went close to scoring on a few occasions, but the overall result was just not meant to be.
Mounties 54 (Lee 2, Cornish 2, Mills 2, Mataka, Cronin, Hawkins, Duggan tries; Cornish 7/10 goals) def. Wests Tigers 18 (Milone, Rowe, Manumalealii tries; Drinkwater 3/3 goals)