Wests Tigers Holden Cup side have produced a remarkable comeback to draw with the Gold Coast Titans 26-26 this afternoon at Cbus Super Stadium.
Trailing 26-6 at the break and down a number of players due to injury, the 15th-placed Wests Tigers produced a remarkable turnaround in the second half — running in 20 unanswered points to emerge with the most unlikely of draws this afternoon.
The hosts got the match off to a dream start with Justin Fai grabbing an early double to put Ben Woolf’s side in control with a 12-0 lead after as many minutes of play.
Tre Williams added another soon after to keep the home side in pace with the clock, with Ethan Roberts unable to add the extras this time, leaving the scoreline at 16-0.
Fullback Jai Doolan pegged one back for Chris Hutchison’s side in the 21st minute, with James Tautaiolefua converting to take the score to 16-6, but it was a half that belonged to the Titans with Tyronne Roberts-Davis and AJ Brimson both crossing just before half-time to ensure the home side took a commanding 26-6 lead in to the half-time sheds.
Needing to score first in the second half, it was a fortunate bounce of the ball for Toni Tali that kept Wests Tigers in the contest, with a cross field kick from Blake Higgins bouncing off the hands of Tautaiolefua before finding the centre close to the line.
Tautaiolefua provided a stunning sideline conversion, cutting the lead to 26-12.
Wests Tigers threatened to record a stunning comeback when Jarrod Tompkins crashed over in the 50th minute, with Tautaiolefua’s conversion cutting the lead to 26-18.
A short side play with Thomas Mikaele cut the margin even further, with Tautaiolefua missing his first conversion of the day from out wide to leave the score at 26-22.
With momentum on their side, Wests Tigers sensationally leveled the match with 10 minutes to go when Tali crashed over for his second, but Tautaiolefua nervously pushed his conversion from close range — keeping the score at 26-all with eight minutes to go.
The Titans appeared destined to win the match with an overlap on the sideline in the final minute, but an incredible try-saver from Tali ensured the game remained a draw.
NYC FULL TIME — Wests Tigers 26 (Tali 2, Mikaele, Tompkins, Doolan tries; Tautaiolefua 3/5 goals) drew with Gold Coast Titans 26 (Fai 2, Brimson, Roberts-Davis, Williams tries; Roberts 2/4, Roberts-Davis 1/1 goals) at Cbus Super Stadium.