Wests Tigers Holden Cup side have temporarily moved to second on the ladder with an impressive 40-14 victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday night.
After last week's clash against the Roosters was postponed due to inclement weather, Wests Tigers showed no signs of rust — exploding out of the blocks to lead 16-0 mid-way through the first half — before pulling away in the second half to emerge 26-point winners.
Wests Tigers opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Bayley Sironen broke through from 40 metres out and found Mark McCormack in support to cross for the opening try of the game.
Late inclusion Roman Ioelu converted for a 6-0 lead.
Souths had a few chances to respond but were denied with the home side displaying some strong defence on the goal line, with a big hit from captain Jack Wheelhouse on Toby Rudolf the highlight.
Defence later soon turned to attack and Ioelu went over in the corner after some crafty lead up work from Ryland Jacobs.
The home side went back-to-back off the restart when Jakob Giles carried four defenders over with him to score the side’s third four pointer.
Ioelu converted from out wide for a 16-0 advantage.
The highlight of the half came in the 28minute when five-eighth Daniel Roberts ran the ball on the last and found his halves partner Thomas Bartley in some space, before he placed a pin-point kick out wide to Toa Mata’afa who went over to extend the lead for the home side.
Ioelu’s conversion had the Wests Tigers up 22-0 after 30 minutes of the match.
South Sydney responded with two quick tries late in the half to narrow the home side’s lead.
Mawene Hiroti went over in the corner after a spread of hands, and the visitors were over minutes later when Josh Saunders crashed over beside the posts.
Hiroti converted the try but Wests Tigers took a 22-10 lead into the break.
It was all the home side to start the second half with Ioelu crossing for a double in the 48th minute after Wests Tigers kept the ball alive on the last play.
The winger nailed the kick from the sideline to convert his own try and the lead extended to 28-10.
Wests Tigers crossed again when Jesse Jackson broke through and found Ryan Papenhuyzen in support who crossed the line to celebrate his 18th birthday in style.
Ioelu converted for to give his side an unassailable 34-10 lead.
Papnhuyzen was involved in Wests Tigers seventh try of the night when he threw a lovely cutout pass for Mata’afa to step inside defenders to score.
Ioelu was enjoying a nice night out with the boot and converted from near the sideline for a 40-10 advantage.
The visitors scored a late consolation try with ten minutes remaining with Hiroti going over in the corner for his second of the match, however the home side controlled the remainder of the game for a 40-14 victory.
Wests Tigers 40 (Mata'afa 2, Ioelu 2, Giles, McCormack, Papenhuyzen tries; Ioelu 6/7 goals) def. South Sydney Rabbitohs 14 (Hiroti 2, Saunders tries; Hiroti 1/3 goals)