Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side have produced a strong attacking performance to down the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 28-20 at Leichhardt Oval.
After a back-and-forth first half, three tries to David Heath’s side in the five minutes either side of half-time allowed the home side to kick away to a commanding 28-14 lead, before holding firm in the final half an hour of the match to emerge with an eight-point victory.
The win takes Wests Tigers off the bottom off the Intrust Super Premiership table, and gives great reward for the effort shown by Heath’s side over the past month of football.
Blacktown opened the scoring after just four minutes of play, with Cameron Cullen slicing Wests Tigers up the middle before linking up with prop forward Tom Amone.
Matthew Wright converted to give the Sea Eagles a 6-0 lead after 12 minutes.
After a strong run up the middle from Jeremy Marshall-King, Wests Tigers would hit back almost immediately, with Jordan Rankin and Watson Heleta combining to put Ryland Jacobs over in the corner in his first game back from injury. Rankin then showed great touch to convert from the sideline, leveling the score at 6-6 after 16 minutes.
An error from Heleta off a regulation grubber from Pita Godinet gifted Blacktown the lead back after 20 minutes, with captain Brendan Attwood scooping up the ball to score.
However, Wright was unable to convert from close range, leaving the score at 10-6.
Both teams would continue to trade tries as Wests Tigers leveled the match once more in the 27th minute as Jayden Wheelhouse reeled in an intercept before streaking away to score in the corner, with Rankin narrowly missing in his second sideline conversion.
A clever scrum move from the visitors would wrestle the lead back in their favour just five minutes later, as Kelepi Manu found space on the left and dove over in the corner.
Wright was once again unable to convert, leaving the score at 14-10.
Having been denied earlier in the half for a double movement, Kyle Lovett would give Wests Tigers their first lead of the day when he showed great strength to wrestle his way through the Sea Eagles’ defence — planting the ball down next to the posts.
Rankin had no problem adding the extras, giving Wests Tigers a well-deserved 16-14 advantage that they would take into the half-time sheds at Leichhardt Oval.
Determined to carry their momentum into the second half, Wests Tigers would blow the game open with two tries in the space of six minutes to start the second half, with Wesley Lolo and Nathan Milone both crashing over to give the hosts a 28-14 lead.
Lolo almost made it a double moments later, but knocked on trying to collect a grubber from Veiru Mapesone — keeping Blacktown in the contest with 25 minutes remaining.
The visitors would peg one back in the 70th minute when Viliame Kaveinga showed tremendous athleticism to collect a kick above his head before passing in one motion — allowing Attwood to crash over under the posts for his second try of the afternoon.
Wright’s conversion saw Wests Tigers’ lead reduced to 28-20 with 10 minutes to play.
Having already crossed for a four-pointer earlier in the day, it was Jacobs who saved the day for Wests Tigers with a tremendous piece of defence — stopping a three-on-one in the Sea Eagles’ favour to confirm a well-deserved victory for the home side.
Wests Tigers 28 (Jacobs, Wheelhouse, Lovett, Lolo, Milone tries; Rankin 4/5 goals) def. Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 20 (Attwood 2, Amone, Manu tries; Wright 3/4 goals)