Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side have gone down in incredible fashion to the top-of-the-table Mounties in their Round 21 clash on Saturday morning.
Despite coming into the match missing several players due to injury, Wests Tigers had to endure plenty of early pressure from the visitors, but were able to hold firm before blowing apart the match with three tries in six minutes to lead by 22 at the break.
However, a remarkable second-half comeback by the visitors saw Mounties run in 26 unanswered points to steal the win just minutes before the full-time siren sounded.
After starting slowly, Wests Tigers almost found themselves behind on the scoreboard after 13 minutes when Kato Ottio beat Josh Addo-Carr on the wing, but a superb cover tackle from Michael Chee Kam denied the winger from posting first points of the day.
That tackle would prove key in turning momentum for Wests Tigers, who soon crossed for the first try of the day through young hooker Jacob Liddle — cleverly beating Shaun Fensom and Jeff Lima close to the line before planting the ball down under the posts.
Justin Hunt had no problems converting to give his side a 6-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Wests Tigers would soon extend their lead when a great run from Wesley Lolo put the home side on the attack, before Charlie Taylor plucked Jack Littlejohn’s cross-field kick out of the air to touch down in the corner. Hunt was unable to add the extras from out wide, leaving the scoreline at 10-0 in favour of Paul Stringer’s side after 23 minutes.
Mounties would finally make use of their advantage in possession when a good cut-out ball from fullback Zac Santo found Ottio on the wing, with the competition’s leading try-scorer touching down for another try despite the best efforts of Jeremy Marshall-King.
Sam Williams converted from the sideline to cut the lead to 10-6 after 30 minutes.
However, it wouldn’t take long for Wests Tigers to restore their 10-point lead, as a quick 20m tap from Addo-Carr caught Mounties napping in the middle, with the winger streaking away to run 80 metres and score his first try of the day.
The home side would make it back-to-back tries when some sharp hands from Hunt and Rod Griffin cracked Mounties open again in the middle, before centre Watson Heleta burrowed his way over on the next tackle to extend Wests Tigers’ advantage.
Hunt converted to give Wests Tigers a 22-6 lead with two minutes remaining in the half.
Wests Tigers weren’t done for the half, though, and would sensationally make it three tries in five minutes as an inside ball from Liddle found Marshall-King in the final play of the half, with the five-eighth skipping through the line to score next to the posts.
That gave Hunt a simple conversion to give Wests Tigers a 28-6 lead at half-time.
Desperate to keep their lead at the top of the Intrust Super Premiership ladder in tact, Mounties would begin the second half the better of the two teams, and soon cut the lead to 28-16 with tries to both wingers inside the opening 10 minutes of the half.
That lead would be cut even further when Brenko Lee crossed out wide off the back of another error from Wests Tigers — taking the score to 28-20 with 20 minutes to play.
Curtis Sironen was horribly unlucky not to score off a grubber kick from Littlejohn with 10 minutes remaining in the match, with the ball simply not bouncing up with no defender in sight. That play would give the visitors a seven-tackle set, and it would prove costly as Maurice Kennedy crashed over off a grubber kick from Williams to score.
Williams’ conversion from in front cut Wests Tigers lead to 28-26 with nine minutes left.
As errors and incompletions continued to cause havoc for Wests Tigers, Mounties would sensationally complete their 22-point comeback when Jarrad Kennedy crashed over in the corner late in the match, with Williams converting to take the score to 32-28.
Mounties RLFC 32 (Ottio 2, Mataele, Lee, M.Kennedy, J.Kennedy tries; Williams 4/6 goals) def. Wests Tigers 28 (Liddle, Taylor, Addo-Carr, Heleta, Marshall-King tries; Hunt 4/5 goals)