A try to centre Kevin Naiqama in the final minutes has given Wests Tigers an 18-12 win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs today at ANZ Stadium.
After trailing 10-6 at half-time, it was the Bulldogs who began the second half better — skipping out to a 12-10 lead — before Wests Tigers came from behind for the first time under Head Coach Ivan Cleary to steal the win in the final minutes through Naiqama.
Wests Tigers looked to have gotten the match off to the perfect start when Michael Chee Kam crossed off a Luke Brooks kick, but the effort was overruled for an offside penalty.
But after inking a four-year contract extension with the Club during the week, it was David Nofoaluma who put the home side in front after 10 minutes — capping off a sharp right edge move with Mitchell Moses and James Tedesco to touch down in the corner.
Moses showed great touch to convert from out wide, leaving the score at 6-6.
The Bulldogs quickly hit back, however, with Marcelo Montoya finding space on the wing before wrestling away from Chee Kam’s best efforts to plant the ball down.
Kerrod Holland’s sideline conversion leveled the match at 6-6 once again.
Nofoaluma looked destined to grab his second of the afternoon when he reeled in an intercept on his line, but a great chase from Josh Morris denied the winger another try.
In the end, it was a penalty goal from Moses that put Wests Tigers back in front — giving Ivan Cleary's side a 8-6 with just under 15 minutes remaining in the half.
Tedesco came close to giving Wests Tigers a bigger lead just before the break, but was overturned by the Bunker — ruled to be short of the line in his desperate attempt.
However, an infringement against Josh Reynolds in the build-up gave Wests Tigers another shot at goal, with Moses adding the extras for a 10-6 lead at half-time.
Needing to come out firing in the second half, it was Holland who levelled the match once again — finishing off a team move that saw the ball pass through a number of hands, despite question marks remaining about a knock-on in the lead-up to the try.
Holland was unable to convert his own try, leaving the score at 10-10 after 46 minutes.
An infringement in the play-the-ball from Tim Grant gifted the Bulldogs their first lead of the day, with Holland slotting a penalty goal in front for a 12-10 lead after 54 minutes.
After plugging away on the Bulldogs line, Wests Tigers would level the match at 12-12 after Brenko Lee was ruled to have professionally fouled Chris Lawrence in the act of scoring — allowing Moses to take the two while Lee was sent to the bin for 10 minutes.
With the match in the balance, Brooks set up for a field goal attempt, before running it down the left and kicking through for Naiqama, who collected the ball off a deflection to race around and score under the posts, giving Wests Tigers a stunning 18-12 victory.
Wests Tigers take on the Cronulla Sharks at Leichhardt Oval next Saturday night.
Wests Tigers 18 (Nofoaluma, Naiqama tries; Moses 5/5 goals) def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 12 (Montoya, Holland tries; Holland 2/3 goals) at ANZ Stadium