After leading for the majority of the match, Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side have gone down 26-24 to the Newtown Jets today at Campbelltown.
Boosted by the inclusion of Jack Littlejohn, Jamal Idris and Kyle Lovett following recent NRL call-ups, David Heath’s side showed a great improvement in attack to control the opening 40 minutes, before leading the Jets for the best part of the second half — only to fall behind in the final minutes following a sideline conversion from Fa’amanu Brown.
Newtown began the match the stronger of the two sides — putting together several repeat sets before eventually finding the line through Matt Evans after five minutes.
Brown was unable to add the extras from out wide, leaving the score at 4-0.
Wests Tigers would hit back soon after, however, with Idris showing great strength to keep the ball alive on last tackle, flinging it back to Jack Littlejohn who grubbered through the line for Jeremy Marshall-King to score his first try of the season.
Jordan Rankin converted from close range to give the hosts a 6-4 lead after 14 minutes — incredibly, Wests Tigers’ first lead of the 2017 Intrust Super Premiership season.
Put on the back foot following an error by co-captain Nathan Milone, Wests Tigers would soon find themselves behind on the scoreboard as Tony Williams crashed over next to the posts, with Brown’s simple conversion giving Newtown a 10-6 advantage.
However, Milone would soon make up for his error with a four-pointer of his own, diving over in the corner after some excellent work from Idris in the lead-up.
Rankin’s curling sideline conversion gave Wests Tigers a 12-10 lead after 30 minutes.
After almost crossing for his first NRL try last week against the Canberra Raiders, Littlejohn produced one of the individual efforts of the season soon after to extend Wests Tigers’ lead — breaking the line 40m out before rounding the fullback and somehow staying in the field of play to score eight minutes before half-time.
Rankin was unable to add the extras this time, leaving the score at 16-10, before a late penalty goal close to the posts gave the home side an eight-point lead at the break.
Needing to strike first in the second half to stay in the contest, Newtown would hit back once again in the 45th minute with a strong linebreak from Williams putting the hosts on the back foot, before fullback Leigh Higgins found James Tuitahi in the corner.
Brown was unable to convert again, leaving the score at 18-14 after 45 minutes.
Watson Heleta looked to have restored the home side’s advantage when he capped off a great set of six with the ball, but was denied to an obstruction in the build-up.
That would prove costly for Wests Tigers, as off the back of the penalty, Newtown would work the ball downfield and re-take the lead through Jayden Williams after 60 minutes.
Brown’s conversion from close to the posts would put the visitors back in front, 20-18.
Wests Tigers would refuse to go away, however, and after some stirring defence from Lovett and Heleta to force the error, would cross again through Marshall-King, who fooled the markers close to the line to post his second try of the afternoon.
Rankin would add the extras to take Wests Tigers’ lead to 24-20 after 68 minutes.
As they had done all afternoon, Newtown remained in the contest and sensationally leveled the match with just five mintues remaining as Tuitahi grabbed his second try.
Brown then nailed his finest conversion of the day, adding the extras from the sideline to give the Jets a 26-24 lead that they would hold on to ensure a thrilling victory.
Newtown Jets 26 (Tuitahi 2, Evans, Williams, Walker tries; Brown 3/5 goals) def. Wests Tigers 24 (Marshall-King 2, Milone, Littlejohn tries; Rankin 4/5 goals).