Wests Tigers have bounced back to form with a convincing 33-12 win over the Newcastle Knights today from their Round 17 clash at McDonald Jones Stadium.
After a blistering start to the match that saw the visitors lead 20-0 after half an hour, it was a more subdued second half performance that saw the Knights creep back in to the contest and reduce the lead to 12 points. However, the home side would be unable to take it any further than that as Wests Tigers held on for a much-needed win.
The match began in the perfect fashion for Wests Tigers, with Tuimoala Lolohea finding Malakai Watene-Zelezniak with a great cut-out pass for the opening points of the game.
Lolohea converted from in front to give the visitors a 6-0 lead after 10 minutes.
A break from Kevin Naiqama in the ensuing set had the Knights on the ropes, and it should have led to points for Ivan Cleary’s side, but the final pass to David Nofoaluma drifted forward and the winger was unable to reel it in with the line wide open.
Having watched one try go begging, Coach Cleary would have been shaking his head even more moments later when a great linebreak from Luke Brooks saw Jacob Liddle link up with Lolohea, only for the five-eighth to drop the ball trying to plant it down.
Fortunately for Cleary, it wouldn’t take long for the visitors to grab their second try, with Liddle fooling the Knights marker defence before crashing over next to the posts.
Lolohea again added the extras, taking the lead to 12-0 after 25 minutes.
With Alex Twal impressing in his NRL debut, it was a wonderful piece of attacking play that saw Wests Tigers grab their third try of the first half as Brooks drifted from right to left before sending Moses Suli through, who duly drew the fullback to put Naiqama over.
Lolohea made no mistake with the conversion to make it 18-0 after 29 minutes.
A penalty off the ball for an infringement by the Knights gave Lolohea the chance to take the score to 20-0 just before the break, while a forward pass to Peter Mata’utia right on the stroke of half-time ensured that the visitors went in to the break with a 20-0 lead.
After some desperate goal-line defence from Naiqama denied Danny Levi a try under the posts to start the second half, Wests Tigers would extend their lead in the 55th minute as Naiqama and Nofoaluma eventually combined to send the winger over in the corner.
Lolohea was unable to add the extras from the touchline, leaving the score at 24-0.
Desperate to keep their line unbreached, Wests Tigers would eventually concede points to Lachlan Fitzgibbon in the 62nd minute, before Joe Wardle reduced the margin even further when he finished off a clever piece of skill from Dane Gagai to make it 24-12.
That would be the end of the Knights’ resistance, however, with a late field goal and try to Luke Brooks ensuring the visitors ended their seven-game losing streak with a 21-point win.
Wests Tigers 33 (Watene-Zelezniak, Liddle, Naiqama, Nofoaluma, Brooks tries; Lolohea 6/7 goals, Brooks field goal) def. Newcastle 12 (Fitzgibbon, Wardle tries; Hodkinson 2/2 goals)