Wests Tigers' second half comeback has fallen short against the Newcastle Knights, going down 18-10 in the opening game of the 2017 NRL Auckland Nines.
Trailing 14-0 just before the break, a try right on half-time to Michael Chee Kam and after the break to Jack Littlejohn put Jason Taylor's men just four points behind the Knights with two minutes to play, before a late try to Mitch Barnett sealed the victory for Newcastle in the end.
Wests Tigers will now need to win their two remaining pool matches against the Melbourne Storm (Saturday, 4:10pm AEDT) and Brisbane Broncos (10:15am AEDT, Sunday) to progress through to the knockout stages of the competition.
After a slow start from both teams, it was the Knights who opened the scoring after three minutes through Ken Sio before Nathan Ross made it 10-0 moments later with a solo run.
Wests Tigers were on the ropes when Knights captain Jamie Buhrer touched down out wide, before finding some momentum just before the break with a determined run by Chee Kam.
Hunt added the extras to cut the scoreline to 14-6 at the break.
Wests Tigers would rue missed opportunities in the second half — particularly a shift to the right edge with Kevin Naiqama — before crossing through a nice move to the left, allowing Littlejohn to set up a grandstand finish at Eden Park.
However, with the ensuing kickoff failing to go the required ten metres, Newcastle were able to work the ball downfield and seal the match with Barnett crossing in the corner.
Wests Tigers will feature against the Storm at 4:10pm AEDT later on Saturday.
Newcastle Knights 18 (Sio, Ross, Buhrer, Barnett tries; 1/2 goals) def. Wests Tigers 10 (Chee Kam, Littlejohn tries; Hunt 1/1, Rankin 0/1 goals) at Eden Park.