Wests Tigers Holden Cup side have survived a scare to secure a 32-28 victory over the Newcastle Knights in their Round 11 clash at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Wests Tigers dominated the first half with five unanswered tries to lead 26-0 in the opening 30 minutes, but were sent a scare with Newcastle responding with five of their own to take the lead with three minutes remaining. However, a try to Ray Stone in the 78th minute would seal victory for the home side, who have now been undefeated since Round 4.
Wests Tigers got off to a flying start in the fifth minute when Jacob Liddle scored a try against the play, intercepting an offload to race 40 metres and score under the posts.
Thomas Bartley converted for a 6-0 lead after as many minutes of play.
The home side went over again five minutes later when Jacob Giles made a half break close to the line and passed inside for late inclusion Daniel Roberts to dive over the line.
Bartley made no mistakes with the conversion and Wests Tigers extended their lead 12-0.
The momentum continued for the home side when Robert’s placed a perfect kick for Trent Pye to score next to the posts and make it 18-0 with Bartley’s conversion.
Two more tries in quick succession saw Wests Tigers pull further in front, with 17-year-old Ryan Papenhuyzen featuring prominently as the home side raced to a 26-0 advantage.
Liddle showed speed when he broke through the middle and found Bartley in support, who flicked a ball inside to Papenhuyzen to score his second in the competition, before Jakob Giles and Papenhuyzen found space from the restart to set up Roman Ioelu in the corner.
Newcastle would hit back late in the first half with two quick tries on the back of Jake McNamara. The five-eighth placed a perfect kick for Heath Gibbs to take and score out wide McNamara then dummied to sliced through three minutes later and Wests Tigers went into the half-time break at Campbelltown Sports Stadium holding a 26-10 lead.
The visitors scored two tries early to open the second half with Kainoa Gudgeon getting a lucky bounce to pick up the ball and score next to the posts. Newcastle scored again in the 55th minute with a great show of hands for McNamara to score his second of the day.
McNamara converted both tries and Wests Tigers lead was narrowed to 26-22.
The Knights would take the lead in the 73rd minute when Sam Stone crashed over from a McNamara inside to take the lead away from the Wests Tigers, but the late four-pointer from Ray Stone — one of the best on ground — would regain the lead and secure victory.
Wests Tigers 32 (Liddle, Papenhuyzen, Ioelu, Stone, Pye, Roberts tries; Bartley 4/5 Ioelu 1/2 goals) defeated Newcastle 28 (McNamara 2, Gibbs, Gudgeon, Stone tries; McNamara 4/5 goals)