Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side has gone down 24-12 to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon at Belmore Sports Ground.
After a tight first half marked by dogged defence and strong completions, it was Jordan Rankin who eventually broke the deadlock after 21 minutes when he showed great acceleration to burst through the Bulldogs defensive line and plant the ball down.
The halfback converted his own try to give the visitors a 6-0 lead, but the Bulldogs would quickly hit back through Marcelo Montoya after a good face ball from Brad Abbey.
Abbey showed great touch to convert from the sideline to level the match at 6-6.
Heath’s side had a number of chances to extend their lead before the break, but a superb try-saver on Junior Tatola from Abbey and Watson Heleta being penalised for a double movement saw those opportunities go to waste and the score remain level at 6-6.
With one last chance before the break, Wests Tigers halves would combine to put the visitors back in front at the break, with Rankin chipping through for Jack Littlejohn to score under the posts — giving Rankin a simple conversion to take the scoreline to 12-6.
Needing to score first to start the second half, Canterbury-Bankstown would hit back courtesy of another good cut-out ball from Abbey — this time linking up with Reimis Smith on the opposite wing — with the winger diving over after 50 minutes of play.
Abbey was unable to match his sideline conversion this time, leaving the score at 12-10.
With Justin Hunt forced off with a concussion test, a restructured Wests Tigers backline was caught out as Brad Keighran’s cross-field chip beat the outstretched hands of Luke Garner, with Smith flying through to collect his second try of the afternoon.
Rhyse Martin’s conversion gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the afternoon, with the home side holding a 16-12 lead with 20 minutes remaining at Belmore Sports Ground.
Another ruck infringement against Wests Tigers allowed the Bulldogs to extend their lead out to a full converted try with less than 15 minutes remaining in the match.
Having returned from his concussion test, Hunt’s afternoon took a disastrous turn for the worse with six minutes remaining in the match — stopping awkwardly after a tackle with his leg at a bad angle that saw the centre stretchered off to strong applause.
A seven tackle set late in the piece gave the visitors one late chance to try and level the match, but a good tackle on Nathan Milone saw the captain held just short of the line — allowing the Bulldogs to hold on to their lead, before Renouf To’omaga crashed over on the siren to ensure a 12-point win in the end for the home side.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 24 (Smith 2, Montoya, To’omaga tries; Abbey 1/2, Martin 3/3 goals) def. Wests Tigers 12 (Rankin, Littlejohn tries; Rankin 2/2 goals)