Roosters escape with win over Wests Tigers
Wests Tigers have gone down in a thriller to the Sydney Roosters tonight at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, with Latrell Mitchell crossing late to record a 22-18 victory.
Made to do a mountain of defensive work throughout the first half, Ivan Cleary's side sensationally took the lead in the second half when Tui Lolohea strode away to score.
However, the heavily-favoured Roosters would show their class in the final 15 minutes to emerge with a gutsy four-point victory and keep their shot at a top four finish alive.
Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves faces a nervous wait after the firebrand front-rower collected Tigers five-eighth Tui Lolohea with a stray elbow well after the playmaker had kicked the ball.
Despite kicking into a powerful breeze in the first half, Trent Robinson's men played the conditions perfectly with the Tricolours enjoying 57 per cent of possession while they also outran the Tigers by 300 metres.
Blake Ferguson was involved in everything in the opening exchanges as he went agonisingly close to grounding a grubber that had too much weight and then produced one of the try-saving tackles of the year to somehow deny Malakai Watene-Zelezniak at the other end.
Ferguson wasn't the only player off to a sizzling start with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves capping an outstanding 12-minute burst to pop a sumptuous offload for Mitchell Pearce to score.
The home side should have doubled their lead in the very next set when Mitchell burnt his man on the outside and then put in an angled grubber that should have resulted in more points, only for the returning Gordon to fumble the Steeden.
The fullback's blushes were soon forgotten when Pearce played short to put Aidan Guerra into a gaping hole before the halfback and Ferguson combined to set up Mitchell Aubusson in the corner to make it 16-0 after half an hour.
An error by co-captain Jake Friend from the ensuing kick-off opened the door for Ivan Cleary's men to hit back and they made the most of their opportunity with Josh Aloiai charging through to get them on the board before James Tedesco crossed with the half-time siren blaring in the background to give the Wests Tigers a sniff heading into the break.
Camped on their own line for seemingly the entire second half, Wests Tigers showed incredible resilience to take the lead when Tedesco and Lolohea combined for a runaway try, before Mitchell's effort inside the final 10 minutes ensured the Roosters would hold on to win.
Sydney Roosters 22 (Pearce, Guerra, Aubusson, Mitchell tries; Gordon 3/4 goals) def. Wests Tigers 18 (Aloiai, Tedesco, Lolohea tries; Lolohea 3/3 goals)