Wests Tigers Holden Cup side have been held to a 20-20 draw by the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in their Round 18 clash on Friday at Belmore Sportsground.
With torrential rain featuring for the full duration of the match, a Wests Tigers side missing a number of key players produced a strong performance in tough conditions to lead 20-14, before the Bulldogs converted after the siren to finish the match at 20-all.
Wests Tigers looked to have taken the lead after just three minutes of play when Ray Stone crashed on to a short grubber from Thomas Bartley, but he was ruled to have knocked it on in wet conditions. The visitors wouldn’t take long to hit the lead, though, with stand-in fullback Jai Doolan exposing the short side to put Obed Karwhin over.
Veiru Mapesone narrowly missed with his conversion to leave it at 4-0 after 13 minutes.
The visitors almost doubled their lead soon after when Mark McCormack cleaned up a kick on his own line before offloading to put Stone in some space. That gave Wests Tigers the chance to launch an attacking set, but the chance petered out in the end.
Costly errors began to creep into the game of the visitors towards the back end of the first half, and they would prove crucial as the Bulldogs began to find their feet.
A defensive mistake allowed the Bulldogs territory to attack Wests Tigers line, and they would level the match after 25 minutes when Marcelo Montoya slid over in the corner.
Brad Keighran was unable to convert from out wide, leaving the scoreline locked at 4-4.
Wests Tigers then saw an attacking try ruled out, with Jai Doolan ruled offside from a Bartley bomb — cancelling out the effort of Karwhin as the winger touched down again.
That moment in particular would prove costly, as the ensuing penalty would allow the home side to attack Wests Tigers’ line again and eventually take the lead, with D’Rhys Miller slicing through the line to Kiko Manu over untouched under the posts.
Keighran’s conversion gave the Bulldogs a 10-4 lead, and despite plenty of opportunities for the visitors, they would find themselves down by six points at the half-time break.
Wests Tigers would begin the second half in brilliant fashion, with Tony Tali scoring two tries inside the opening five minutes of the half to put the visitors up 16-10.
However, as the visitors continued to let attacking chances go to waste with errors at the wrong time, the Bulldogs would capitalise and fight their way back into the contest, with Miller offloading for Manu to break the line, who put Montoya over in the corner.
Keighran again couldn’t convert, leaving the scoreline at 16-14 after 60 minutes.
Wests Tigers looked to have won the game when Daniel Roberts crashed his way over out wide with eight minutes remaining to take the visitors’ lead out to 20-14, but the Bulldogs sensationally the match after the siren with a third try to Montoya in the corner, which Keighran converted in superb fashion to finish the match at 20-20.
Wests Tigers will look to secure a vital two points next Wednesday night when they take on the Sydney Roosters in a catch-up game at Leichhardt Oval, with kickoff at 5:00pm.
NYC FULL TIME — Wests Tigers 20 (Tali 2, Karwhin, D.Roberts tries; Mapesone 2/4 goals) drew with Bulldogs 20 (Montoya 3, Manu tries; Keighran 2/4 goals) at Belmore Sportsground