Wests Tigers have bounced back to record a gritty 20-12 win over the Newcastle Knights in their Round 11 clash on Saturday at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
The home side began the match in superb fashion, with an offload from Aaron Woods seeing Dene Halatau in open space and in a strong attacking position off the opening set.
And while Wests Tigers wouldn’t walk away with points from their first venture into Knights territory, they would soon find their way across the line through five-eighth Mitchell Moses, who hit the line hard off a good short ball to crash his way over.
Jordan Rankin converted to give the home side a 6-0 lead after 12 minutes.
Tim Simona went close to extending the hosts’ lead when he skipped on the outside of his man, only to lose the ball over the line, before Matt Ballin — playing his first game for the Club — had a try sent upstairs after he got on the end of a Luke Brooks kick.
The Bunker would deny the decision, and unfortunately for Ballin, his day would soon be done after he was taken from the field with a concussion suffered making a tackle.
Rankin would extend the home side’s lead to 8-0 with a simple penalty goal in the 29th minute, before the Knights finally cracked through the Wests Tigers’ defensive line with a series of offloads leading to a Trent Hodkinson try next to the posts. The halfback had no problem adding the extras to reduce the margin to 8-6 after 33 minutes of play.
Another Knights penalty — this time for a high tackle on JJ Felise — would see Rankin take another two points, with the home side heading to the half-time sheds leading 10-6.
Wests Tigers saw two chances to extend their lead early in the second half slip through their fingertips; the first an error from Felise just metres out and the second a dropped intercept by speedster Josh Addo-Carr with nothing but open space ahead of him.
That would prove to be costly for Jason Taylor’s men, as a dummy and run from fullback Dane Gagai in his 100th game split open the defensive line and leveled the match at 10-10. Hodkinson added the extras to give the Knights a 12-10 lead after 50 minutes.
Wests Tigers would retake the lead in the 60th minute when some sharp hands down the left edge allowed Addo-Carr to make up for his earlier mistake and sprint over.
Rankin’s successful conversion would give the home side a 16-12 lead after 62 minutes.
The home side would secure the win in the 70th minute when a magical pass from Elijah Taylor found Luke Brooks on the chest, with the halfback sprinting away to score in the corner and extend the home side’s lead to eight points. Rankin would miss the ensuing conversion from out wide, but it wouldn’t matter as the home side held on to win 20-12.
NRL FULL TIME — Wests Tigers 20 (Moses, Addo-Carr, Brooks tries; Rankin 4/5 goals) def. Newcastle Knights 12 (Hodkinson, Gagai tries; Hodkinson 2/2 goals)