Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side has produced a stirring effort against the top-of-the-table Wyong, but gone down 42-22 in the end on Sunday morning.
In a high quality game of football, the first-placed Wyong Roos raced to an early lead before Wests Tigers stormed their way back in to the contest, only for the Roos to show their class again in the second half and emerge with a 20-point victory in the end.
Wests Tigers were boosted pre-game with the inclusion of a number of players from the extended NRL squad, and started the match the better of the two sides with darting runs from Watson Heleta and Nathan Milone causing problems for the Roos’ left edge.
However, an error from Ryland Jacobs after five minutes allowed Wyong the chance to post first points, with Matthew Ikuvalu collecting the ball to crash over under the posts.
Josh Mantellato converted from in front to give the visitors an early 6-0 advantage that would soon double as Justin Toomey-White took advantage of a missed forward pass call to crash over in the corner, despite the best efforts of Heleta across in cover.
Mantellato’s would again make no mistake, extending Wyong’s lead to 12-0.
Wests Tigers would soon hit back through a lovely sweeping play to the left, with Bayley Sironen finding Heleta at pace to put the fullback through the line after 15 minutes.
Jordan Rankin showed good touch to convert from out wide and cut the lead to 12-6.
With the ensuing kickoff flying out on the full from Mantellato, Wests Tigers would go immediately back on the attack and soon level the match through Joel Edwards after a clever tip-on pass close to the line from Matt Eisenhuth found a gap in the Roos’ defence.
Rankin converted from close to the posts to level the match at 12-12 after 20 minutes.
Chris Centrone looked to have put the visitors back in front after 25 minutes when Mitch Williams created an extra man own the short side, but a super cover tackle from Toa Mata’afa in just his second Intrust Super Premiership game put the winger into touch.
Luke Sharpe would eventually put Wyong in the lead after some clever footwork to get outside his man and just beat Heleta to the corner. Mantellato continued his strong day with the boot, curling his conversion in from the sideline to give the Roos an 18-12 lead.
Despite the match billed as first against last, David Heath’s side would continue to show great resilience and leveled the match once again through Edwards — this time hitting a good line off a short ball from Rankin to crash over with six minutes to go in the half.
Wyong had a late chance to hit the lead once more before the break, but a terrific driving shot from Garner on Brenden Santi drew the error, leaving the half-time score at 18-all.
After a highly entertaining first half, it was Wests Tigers who took the lead for the first time three minutes in to the second stanza, with Heleta and Ryland Jacobs producing risky passes over the goal-line to give Malakai Watene-Zelezniak his first try of the year.
Rankin was unable to convert from out wide, leaving the hosts’ lead at 22-18.
However, after some clever work from Craig Garvey off a Mitch Cornish bomb to trap the kick and soccer it through the line, before linking up with Mantellato to score out wide. The centre again added the extras to give Wyong a slender 24-22 advantage.
And off the back of a controversial strip and knock on call against Wests Tigers, Wyong would again post points through Garvey — this time collecting a late offload from Santi to race through the line before wrestling the ball down on his second attempt.
Mantellato added the crucial conversion from close to the posts, giving Wyong an eight-point advantage with less than 15 minutes remaining in the match.
With the result confirmed, Wyong pulled away on the scoreboard with two late tries to Sharpe and Lewis to walk away from Campbelltown Sports Stadium with a 42-22 win.
Wyong Roos 42 (Sharpe 2, Ikuvalu, Toomey-White, Mantellato, Garvey, Lewis tries; Mantellato 7/7 goals) def. Wests Tigers 22 (Edwards 2, Heleta, Watene-Zelezniak tries; Rankin 3/4 goals)