Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side have gone down 27-20 to Mounties RLFC in a good content on Saturday afternoon at Aubrey Keech Reserve.
Boosted by the inclusion of Curtis Sironen and Michael Chee Kam for the match, Wests Tigers began the game in ideal fashion when a run from Sironen attracted several defenders — allowing the back-rower to offload to Jayden Wheelhouse to score.
Jack Littlejohn was unable to add the sideline conversion, giving his side an early 4-0 lead after eight minutes of play in cold and windy conditions at Aubrey Keech Reserve.
The home side worked their way back into the match on the back of a Wests Tigers error, with Kato Otto eventually crashing over in the corner after three straight sets.
Cameron Phillips converted from the sideline for a 6-4 lead after 22 minutes.
Wests Tigers would quickly restore their lead in the 26th minute when a lovely inside move involving Littlejohn and Sironen put Watson Heleta in the clear close to the line.
Manaia Cherrington converted from near the posts to give his side a 10-6 lead.
Mounties continued to show why they came into the match top of the Intrust Super Premiership ladder — launching wave after wave of attack on the visitors’ line. They would eventually crack through when a cross-field kick was put down by Wests Tigers, allowing halfback Maurice Kennedy to scoop up the ball and dart his way over the line.
Phillips added the extras from close to the sideline to give Mounties a 12-10 lead.
Wes Lolo looked destined to put the visitors back in front when a short ball from Joel Edwards put the prop forward in the clear, but he came up with an error trying to ground the ball — allowing the home side to go into half-time with a 12-10 advantage.
After back-to-back penalties on last tackle in favour of the home side, Mounties quickly extended their lead after the break through Willie Mataka off a good short ball.
Phillips’ conversion made it 18-10 after 45 minutes, and with Kennedy nailing a 40/20 in the following set, Mounties made it 22-10 after Brenko Lee crashed over in the corner. And off the back of another fifth-tackle penalty, Mounties pushed their lead out to 26-10 when fullback Zac Santo swerved his way through traffic to touch down.
Two of Wests Tigers’ best on the day combined to reduce the margin somewhat for the visitors after 63 minutes when an offload from Joel Edwards put Jacob Liddle, with the wiry hooker rounding the fullback before offloading for Chee Kam to crash over the line.
Littlejohn’s missed conversion from close to the posts left the score at 26-14, and despite several attacking chances for the visitors, they were unable to eat into the margin further as the home side held firm in defence. And after coming up with nothing from several attacking spells on Mounties’ line, frustration got the better of the home side, with a penalty and dissent seeing Curtis Sironen sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes.
Off the back of that, Kennedy would slot a field goal with three minutes to go to ensure a win, before Liddle found Chance Peni in the final minutes for a late consolation try.
Intrust Super Premiership Full Time — Mounties RLFC 27 (Otto, Kennedy, Mataka, Lee, Santo tries; Phillips 3/5 goals; Kennedy field goal) def. Wests Tigers 20 (Wheelhouse, Heleta, Chee Kam, Peni tries; Cherrington 1/1 goals; Fine 1/1 goals; Littlejohn 0/2 goals)