Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side have produced a gutsy effort to down the Wyong Roos 26-16 in Sunday’s Elimination Final at Pepper Stadium.
In a high quality game that saw strong completion rates from both teams, Stringer’s side showed tremendous patience and composure in attack to blow apart the Roos in the second half, before defending gallantly late in the match to emerge victorious by 10 points.
Wests Tigers will now play Mounties RLFC next week for a place in the Grand Final.
After a tight start to the match, it was Tyler Cornish who put the visitors in front with an individual effort after eight minutes — rounding Watson Heleta at the back to score next to the posts and provide a simple conversion, taking the Roos’ lead out to 6-0.
Wests Tigers would hit back on the back of some strong carries from the forwards, with halfback Justin Hunt stepping his way back through the defence to squeeze his way over.
Hunt converted his own try to level the match at 6-6 after 14 minutes.
Strong carries by Curtis Sironen and Wes Lolo would again lay the platform for Stringer’s side to go on the attack, and they would soon take the lead through prop forward Jordan Grant, who burst his way through several tackles to crash over out wide.
Hunt again added the extras to take Wests Tigers lead to 12-6 after 17 minutes.
A rare error from Wests Tigers inside their own end would gift Wyong an attacking set close to the line shortly after, and they would soon level the match through Luke Garner.
Cornish’s successful conversion would lock the match up at 12-all after 24 minutes.
As both teams traded sets approaching half-time, Wyong looked to have re-taken the lead through Omar Slaimankhel just before the break, but a superb cover tackle from former Roos player Charlie Taylor denied the winger a four-pointer in the corner.
That tackle would prove crucial in the context of the match, as a 40/20 kick from Littlejohn the following set gave Wests Tigers one last attacking set before half-time.
It would be Littlejohn himself who made the set count, with a great individual effort catching out some tired defenders back on the inside to give his side the lead.
Hunt’s conversion from next to the uprights took the scoreline to 18-12 at half-time, ending an enthralling opening 40 minutes from both teams at Pepper Stadium.
The match would take a nasty turn shortly after half-time when back-to-back dangerous tackles off the ball from Wyong — which would see Zane Tetevano and Abraham Papalii both placed on report — forced Justin Hunt and Joel Edwards from the field with injury.
Tyler Cassel would take over the kicking duties with Hunt off the field, adding a penalty goal from in front to push Wests Tigers’ lead out to eight points after 50 minutes of play.
Made to do a mountain of defensive work following a string of penalties for Wyong, Wests Tigers would hold firm after several sets on their line, and would soon receive a boost as Edwards and Hunt returned to the field after passing their respective tests.
After a deft grubber from Littlejohn earned Wests Tigers a repeat set, it would be a well-executed set piece that would break open the Roos, as Addo-Carr drifted in from the left wing to collect a no-look inside ball from Littlejohn to fly through and touch down.
Hunt added the important conversion to take the score to 26-12 after 62 minutes.
Wyong refused to go away, and would reduce the score to 26-16 when a quick shift to the right saw Garner grab his second try of the afternoon, with Cornish unable to add the extras from out wide. And despite the Roos relentlessly attacking Wests Tigers late in the match, Stringer’s side refused to budge late in the match and eventually emerged with a 10-point win to keep their hopes at a Grand Final appearance alive in 2016.
ISP FULL TIME — Wests Tigers 26 (Hunt, Grant, Littlejohn, Addo-Carr tries; Hunt 4/4, Cassel 1/1 goals) def. Wyong Roos 16 (Garner 2, Cornish tries; Cornish 2/3 goals)