Wests Tigers have produced a strong defensive performance to down the Gold Coast Titans 26-4 this afternoon in their Round 21 clash at Cbus Super Stadium.
Leading 4-0 at the break despite a vastly superior first half, Ivan Cleary’s side would have been wary of letting another second half lead slip against a desperate Titans team, but with a flurry of points to start the second period, ensured it was to be a winning day.
Off the back of a penalty, it was the visitors who got the match off to the perfect start as Tuimoala Lolohea and James Tedesco combined to send Esan Marsters over untouched.
Lolohea was unable to convert from out wide, leaving the visitors’ lead at 4-0 early on.
Gold Coast looked to have hit back when a fortunate bounce of the ball landed in the arms of Jarryd Hayne, but the Bunker denied it upon review after Morgan Boyle was ruled to have knocked on under a good ball-and-all tackle from Chris Lawrence.
The visitors could have doubled their lead with a number of attacking chances soon after, but the final pass required to unlock the Titans’ defence just couldn’t be found.
Wests Tigers were almost made to pay for their wayward attack in the 28th minute when the Titans created an extra man with a shift to the left, but a good cover tackle from Marsters continued his strong first half and preserved the slender 4-0 advantage.
Tedesco appeared to have finally put to use all of the visitors’ attacking advantage when he crossed in the 32nd minute but, not for the first time in season 2017, was denied by the Bunker with Sauaso Sue ruled to have impeded the Gold Coast cover defence.
That saw the scoreline somehow remain 4-0, which is how it would read at half-time despite Wests Tigers dominating the home side in every statistic bar the scoreboard.
After somewhat of a luckless first half, Wests Tigers would quickly find the other side of the coin in the second half as an inside pass from Michael Chee Kam was seemingly dropped by Tedesco close to the line — only for the fullback to instinctively kick the ball through the line before it bounced and somehow ground it before the dead ball line.
Lolohea’s conversion then bounced in off the post, making it 10-0 after 45 minutes.
Off the following set, a determined run from Luke Brooks saw the halfback get the better of Tyrone Roberts — racing down field before linking up with Malakai Watene-Zelezniak to put the winger over in the corner for his fourth try in six games.
Lolohea was unable to add the extras this time, leaving the visitors’ lead at 14-0.
Needing to be the next to score to keep the home side in the contest, it was Hayne who delivered for the Gold Coast — spinning his way over to plant it down near the posts. However, Roberts was unable to convert the simple conversion, leaving it at 14-4.
Returning from injury, Chris Lawrence put the game beyond doubt when he crashed over off a short ball in the 63rd minute, with his try taking the vice-captain to equal alongside Benji Marshall in the Club’s all-time top try-scorer standings with 76 tries.
Lolohea had no problems converting to take the score to 20-4 and could have made it more in the final minutes but his long pass to David Nofoaluma was called forward.
Wests Tigers captain Aaron Woods would ensure the day finished with a strong win for the visitors — crashing over for his first try of the season in the final minutes of play.
Wests Tigers 26 (Marsters, Tedesco, Watene-Zelezniak, Lawrence, Woods tries; Lolohea 3/5 goals) def. Gold Coast Titans 4 (Hayne tries; Roberts 0/1 goals)