Wests Tigers’ Holden Cup side have defeated the Cronulla Sharks today 46-20 at Remondis Stadium in a crucial victory leading into the finals series.
Coming into the game in eighth-place, Wests Tigers had the Melbourne Storm just one competition point a drift and needed to show their class against a Cronulla side out of finals contention.
Dominant performances from Te Maire Martin, Bayley Sironen, JJ Felise and Junior Tatola saw the Wests Tigers cruise to what was a comfortable victory in the end.
It was a solid start for Wests Tigers, with five-eighth Te Maire Martin looking dangerous early in the match. The co-captain chipped in behind the Sharks right-edge defenders, with Obed Kharwin first to get to the ball, putting a second kick in which was spilled by Mason Paewai in-goal. The prolific try-scoring winger added another to his tally, gathering in the loose ball for yet another four-pointer, with Matthew Woods landing a fairly easy conversion to make it 6-0 after three minutes.
Cronulla were quick to strike back with Josh Addo-Carr leaping above Marion Seve on the left wing to take a cross-field kick and score in the seventh minute. The conversion was unsuccessful from the sideline, with Wests Tigers holding a 6-4 lead early in the match.
In the 15th minute of play, Bayley Sironen ran a great line on the left edge from a Martin inside-ball, slicing through for a 30-metre run to the try-line. Woods was again successful with the kick for a 12-4 lead.
Yet again the Sharks were quick to hit back, with Addo-Carr bagging an early double after putting his foot out to block a Martin kick and running 70-metres to score. Ryan Cummins landed the conversion and Wests Tigers’ lead was cut to just 12-10 after 19 minutes.
A dubious play close to the line saw Cronulla another try, with Francis Lalouatui crashing over from a second-man passage. Cummins converted and the Sharks led for the first time in the match, 16-12 after 22 minutes.
Wests Tigers made it look too easy on the right edge with Jeremy Marshall-King giving a nice short-ball to Jayden Wheelhouse who strolled over for the equaliser. With Woods off the field, Marshall-King took over kicking duties but was unsuccessful with his first shot, with scores remaining locked at 16-all after 29 minutes.
The visitors made it back-to-back tries with Esan Marsters gathering in a Marshall-King bomb that was spilled by the Sharks defenders. On the field replacing Jacob Liddle at hooker, Veiru Mapesone took over goal-kicking duties but was also unsuccessful with the score remaining 20-16 after 35 minutes.
A penalty had Wests Tigers back on the attack, with Sironen running another great line – this time from a Sione Alofi pass – to score his second of the day. Mapesone converted the try to make it a commanding 26-16 lead at the half time break.
Aftger showing great defence in the opening stages of the second stanza, Wests Tigers had a chance of their own in the 46th minute with Martin chipping across to the wing for Seve – however he was unable to reel it in.
Martin did it all on his won just moments later, with Cronulla defenders falling for a massive dummy close to the line as he strolled over in the 49th minute. Martin made it a fourth goal-kicker for the match, slotting the conversion for a 32-16 lead.
Off the very next set, Wests Tigers went in again as Marsters threw a speculator over his head and they shifted it wide to Karwhin who crashed over in the corner for his 20th try of the season. Martin missed the conversion from touch, with his side leading 36-16 after 53 minutes.
The Sharks eventually broke the 20-point run by Wests Tigers in the 59th minute, as lock forward Jaden Clarke crashed over. Cummins missed the conversion, cutting the lead down to 36-20 as the high-scoring affair continued.
Junior Tatola crossed for his side’s eighth try of the match in the 67th minute, running a nice line from Martin. Woods converted the try to extend it to a 42-20 score-line.
Wests Tigers crashed over again in the dying stages of the match through Seve, who was on the end of a nice ball from Alofi. With Woods unable to convert the try from the sideline, the final score read 46-20.
With a top-four position now in reach, Brett Kimmorley’s side have two remaining competition matches against the seventh-placed Warriors and 15th placed Dragons.
Wests Tigers 46 (Sironen 2, Karwhin 2, Wheelhouse, Marsters, Martin, Tatola, Seve tries; Woods 3/4, Marshall-King 0/1, Mapesone 1/2, Martin 1/2 goals) defeated Cronulla Sharks 20 (Addo-Carr 2, Lalouatui, Clarke tries; Cummins 2/4 goals)