Wests Tigers have turned in a strong performance today to defeat the St George Illawarra Dragons 25-12 at ANZ Stadium.
The important victory keeps Head Coach Jason Taylor’s side in tough with the top eight, leap-frogging their opponents on the ladder to sit two points outside the top eight.
Halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks were among the best for the visitors, steering the side around the park in a quality team performance.
Wests Tigers were put under pressure early in the match when Jordan Rankin spilled the ball in a tackle, with the Dragons going on the attack 10 metres out from the line.
They soon took full advantage with fullback Adam Quinlan throwing a cut-out pass to his winger Kurt Mann who went over in the left corner.
Gareth Widdop converted from the sideline to make it a 6-0 advantage after seven minutes.
St. George Illawarra were awarded a penalty just two minutes later, with Widdop making no mistake from 20 metres out to make it an 8-0 lead after nine minutes.
Wests Tigers were quick to strike back, with Kevin Naiqama reading the play perfectly to send his winger David Nofoaluma over on the back of a nice shift to the right.
Rankin was unable to convert the try from the sideline, with the Dragons holding an 8-4 advantage after 16 minutes.
Prop forward Tim Grant left the field in the 23rd minute, when he was caught in a high tackle by Leeson Ah Mau.
From the ensuing penalty, Rankin slotted over an easy conversion to reduce the Dragons’ lead to 8-6 after 24 minutes.
Another penalty piggy-backed Wests Tigers back down the field, with Brooks taking on the line and slicing straight through the Dragons’ goal-line defence to score.
Rankin made the tough conversion look easy, curling the ball around to make it a 12-8 lead after 28 minutes.
Wests Tigers were back at it again with Nofoaluma running hard from inside his half and bursting through the defensive line before linking up with James Tedesco who raced away to score untouched.
The conversion was nailed again by Rankin, with the 8-0 deficit turned into an 18-8 lead at the 31st minute mark.
Both sides had a number of chances in the final eight minutes of the first half, however the score remained unchanged with Wests Tigers holding a 10-point advantage.
For the first 12 minutes of the second stanza, Wests Tigers were forced to defend their line before the Dragons were eventually penalised for an obstruction with what would have been a try to their centre Taane Milne.
The first points of the second stanza looked to have come when Mitchell Moses sliced through the defence on his own 40 metre line in the 52nd minute, linking up with Tedesco back on the inside who was pulled down just inches from the try-line.
It wasn’t to be though, with the Dragons defence holding Kyle Lovett out but Moses was back again soon after with a huge play – kicking a 40/20 to put Wests Tigers on the attack.
Moses continued a quality run of individual play, giving a great offload to Josh Aloiai who crashed over for his first NRL try in his debut season.
On the back of three consecutive penalties, Wests Tigers opted for the penalty goal, with Rankin sending it over to make it a 24-8 lead after 64 minutes.
The Dragons got their hands on the ball soon after and clawed their way back in the match with Milne slicing through from the scrum, linking up with Quinlan back on the inside who juggled his way over the try line.
Widdop was unable to covert the try, with Wests Tigers holding a 24-12 lead with 13 minutes remaining in the match.
Moses showed his class in the dying stages, slotting over a drop goal to make the final score 25-12 in a thrilling four tries to two victory.
Wests Tigers 25 (Tedesco, Aloiai, Nofoaluma, Brooks tries; Rankin 4 goals; Moses 1 field goal) defeated St George Illawarra 12 (Mann, Quinlan tries; Widdop 2 goals)