Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side have bounced back strongly with a gutsy 22-18 win over the Penrith Panthers in their Round 22 clash on Saturday.
In a seesawing contest, both teams traded blows for entire match, but on the back of some gritty defence and composure in attack, Wests Tigers were able to hold firm in the end to emerge with a four-point victory and consolidate their spot in the top four.
In cool fine but conditions at Pepper Stadium, Wests Tigers were made to do an incredible amount of defensive work early, with the Panthers threatening on several occasions inside the opening 20 minutes but unable to crack the visitors’ line.
In fact, it was Stringer’s side who perhaps saw the better chances early on, with a kick from Robbie Farah just running dead as Chance Peni steamed through the line.
A heads-up play from Curtis Sironen on his own goal-line in the 25th minute would prove the catalyst for the first points in the match — taking in a kick close to his body before breaking away and earning a penalty for his side. That would put the visitors on the attack, with Rod Griffin crashing over next to the posts to give Wests Tigers the lead.
Justin Hunt made no mistake with the conversion, making it 6-0 after 27 minutes.
With a mountain of possession and several repeat sets, Penrith would finally cross the line moments before the half-time break, with a short ball from Zach Dockar-Clay close to the line allowing interchange forward Antonio Pelesasa to crash over the line.
Josh Hall converted to level the match as the half-time siren sounded at Pepper Stadium.
Wests Tigers began the second half in impressive fashion, with a quick play the ball from Rod Griffin close to the line allowing Robbie Farah to dart his way over next to the posts.
Hunt converted to restore Wests Tigers’ six-point advantage after 43 minutes.
Dallas Graham looked destined to double the home side’s lead when he backed into the defensive line next to the posts, but the prop forward was unable to ground the ball — spilling it in the in-goal to give the Panthers a reprieve and an opportunity to hit back.
And on the back of a good run from Te Maire Martin, they would soon level the match at once again through five-eighth Andrew Heffernan, who cut back against the grain and brushed away from several attempted tacklers to dive over under the black dot.
Hall’s conversion from in front made it 12-12 with just over 20 minutes remaining.
A strong run from Jordan Grant saw the prop forward win a penalty for his side and give Wests Tigers the chance to re-take the lead — something which they would soon do through Manaia Cherrington, who dummied his way through the line to score with ease.
Hunt’s conversion from in front once again restored the visitors’ six-point advantage, taking the score to 18-12 with a little over 15 minutes remaining in the contest.
Curtis Sironen would seal the result for Wests Tigers when he showed great awareness to finish off a short side play, touching down out wide with eight minutes left to play.
Hunt was unable to convert from near the right touchline, leaving the score at 22-12, and while Dockar-Clay was able to crash over the line late in the match, it would be too little too late for the home side as Wests Tigers held on for a gutsy four-point victory.
FULL TIME — Wests Tigers 22 (Griffin, Farah, Cherrington, Sironen tries; Hunt 3/4 goals) def. Penrith Panthers 18 (Pelesasa, Heffernan. Dockar-Clay tries; Hall 3/3 goals)