Wests Tigers’ Holden Cup side have scored a come from behind 30-26 victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons today at ANZ Stadium.
Trailing 26-12 with just 20 minutes remaining in the match, a late double to Marion Seve saw Wests Tigers come away with the two competition points in the final game of the regular season.
The victory has secured fifth-place for Brett Kimmorley’s side ahead of the finals series next weekend, with their opponents set to be either the New Zealand Warriors or Canberra Raiders.
Wests Tigers applied plenty of pressure in the early stages before Obed Kharwin opened the scoring in the 5th minute, strolling over off the back of a looping cut-out pass from Te Maire Martin. Matthew Woods landed the conversion for a 6-0 lead early in the game.
It would be a lengthy period before next points in the match, with both sides squandering a number of opportunities. The Dragons broke the drought in the 28th minute through prop forward Jay Gallagher who barged over from close range. Ryan James converted to even the scores at 6-all.
With St George Illawarra enjoying a wealth of field position soon after, winger Patrick Herbert crossed the line in the 34th minute to edge his side in front. The conversion from James was unsuccessful, with the Dragons racing ahead 10-6.
Just three minutes out from half time, the Dragons extended their lead through centre Rueben Garrick. James missed another tough conversion, however his side held a strong 14-6 advantage at the break.
Needing to fight back in the second half, Wests Tigers began their comeback in the perfect fashion when Esan Marsters crashed over the line after 43 minutes. Woods’ successful conversion reduced the Dragons’ lead to 14-12.
The home side would hit back soon after, however, with Thomas Carr beating Karwhin down the right wing to touch down in the corner. James finally got the radar going with his goal-kicking to restore the Dragons’ eight-point advantage after 53 minutes.
Dragons’ hooker Ryan Fletcher caught the defence napping in the 59th minute, taking a quick tap from a penalty and diving over next to the goal posts. James kicked the goal to make it 26-12.
Wests Tigers needed to be next to strike and that’s exactly what unfolded as Martin threw another cut-out pass – this time to Tyler Cassel – who was running a great line on the left edge. Veiru Mapesone converted to make it a 26-18 deficit.
A comeback was well and truly on the cards when Marion Seve crossed in the right corner in the 73rd minute. Woods converted the try from the sideline, narrowing the gap to just 26-24.
The Wests Tigers’ right side attack was at it again – shifting it through the hands and finding Seve, who once again showed excellent speed to finish the move in the corner and put his side in the lead. By the time Woods had slotted over the conversion from touch, there was 1:30 remaining on the clock and Wests Tigers held a 30-26 lead.
There was a late scare with the Dragons getting the ball back from the kick-off – however the Wests Tigers defence held strong for a 30-26 lead.
Wests Tigers 30 (Seve 2, Cassel, Marsters, Kharwin tries; Woods 4/4, Mapesone 1/1 goals) defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 26 (Gallagher, Garrick, Herbert, Carr, Fletcher tries; James 3/5 goals)