Wests Tigers NYC Holden Cup side have fought back to claim an unlikely 30-30 draw against Newcastle Knights on Sunday afternoon at Hunter Stadium.
Trailing 30-10 with just over 20 minutes remaining in the match, the visitors stormed back with three tries in five minutes to get within touching distance of the Knights, before a try minutes before full-time to forward JJ Felise ensured a 30-30 draw for Willie Peters' side.
It was the home side who got the match off to the ideal start with Brock Lamb collecting a smart grubber from Jack Cogger to dive over under the posts after eight minutes.
Lamb had no problems adding the extras from in front to give his side a 6-0 lead.
Having spent the 2016 season so far playing for Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side, young gun hooker Jacob Liddle marked his return to the Holden Cup with a superb individual try to level the match after 20 minutes, wrestling his way out of tackles to score and allow Veiru Mapesone to lock the scores up at 6-6 with his conversion.
An error from the kickoff by Wests Tigers gave Newcastle the chance to hit straight back, and they would quickly restore their six-point advantage when Kainoa Gudgeon crossed out wide after 23 minutes, with Lamb converting to take the score to 12-6.
After watching his opposite number find success from dummy half, Knights hooker Joe Morris extended the home side’s lead after 33 minutes when he crashed over, before Mapesone produced an individual effort to cross in the corner just before the break — reducing Newcastle’s lead to 18-10 as both sides hit the sheds at Hunter Stadium.
A bullocking run from Jayden Butterfield shortly after the break put the Knights further in front, and when Mitch Casson grabbed his first Holden Cup try after 51 minutes, the result seemed destined to be heading Newcastle’s way as they led Wests Tigers 30-10.
However, Peters’ side would not go down without a fight, and began a stirring comeback with centre Sam DeFiddes burrowing over out wide after 59 minutes. Mapesone was unable to add the extras from the sideline — leaving the visitors still trailing 30-14.
Brought into the halves as a late replacement for Luke Sharpe, Daniel Roberts continued the comeback with a four-pointer of his own after 63 minutes, before Liddle’s second try of the day made it three tries in five minutes for Wests Tigers to cut the score to 30-24.
The comeback would be complete when prop forward JJ Felise crashed over next to the posts after 77 minutes, with Roberts adding the extras to level the match at 30-30.
Both teams would have one final set as they looked to land the decisive blow, but the visitors were tackled on last tackle trying to work an inside play and Newcastle’s audacious field goal from halfway on the siren fell well short — leaving the two sides locked at 30-30 and with one competition point from their enthralling Round 6 clash.
The result sees both teams stay inside the top eight on seven points, with Newcastle (6th) only ahead of Wests Tigers (7th) by a very slight points differential advantage.
Newcastle 30 (Lamb, Gudgeon, Morris, Butterfield, Casson tries; Lamb 5/5 goals) drew Wests Tigers 30 (Liddle 2, Mapesone, DeFiddes, Roberts, Felise tries; Mapesone 1/3, Roberts 2/3 goals).