Wests Tigers Holden Cup side have ended the year on a winning note, downing the New Zealand Warriors 54-16 today in their Round 26 clash at Leichhardt Oval.
Playing in the final game of final Holden Cup regular season competition, Wests Tigers began the game brightly and never looked back — leading the 16th-placed Warriors 24-6 at the half-time break before continuing that in the second half to emerge victorious.
The result sees Wests Tigers finish the regular season in 15th position on 16 points.
Playing in picturesque conditions at Leichhardt Oval, the home side quickly raced to a two-try lead inside the opening 10 minutes with Jakob Giles and Jai Doolan both scoring.
James Tautaiolefua had no problems converting both tries to give the hosts a 12-0 lead.
The visitors looked destined to hit back when Gibson Popoalii broke through down the right — linking up with Israel Ogden down the sideline — but a superb cover tackle from Liam Pakau inches from the line somehow stopped a certain four-pointer.
The Warriors would eventually hit back in the 24th minute when Joseph Vuna crashed his way over next to the posts, with Popoalii converting to cut the score to 12-6.
Toni Tali would continue his good recent form with a strong effort from dummy half shortly after to restore the two-try lead, with Tautaiolefua showing excellent touch from the sideline — converting to take the home side’s lead back out to 18-6 after 30 minutes.
Wests Tigers would continue to open up the Warriors’ flimsy defence, and would again turn it in to points with Doolan’s linebreak capped off by a lovely inside ball from Josh Bermingham to Royce Tout. Tautaiolefua continued his perfect afternoon with the boot, again converting from the sideline to extend Wests Tigers’ lead out to 24-6.
After forcing an error from the kickoff, the Warriors hit back inside the opening minute of the second half through Melino Fineanganofo — cutting the lead back to 24-12.
Youngster Gus Garzaniti would steady the ship for Wests Tigers, setting up two tries in the space of two minutes to Giles and Doolan, to push the home side out to a 36-12 lead, before Kayal Iro crossed in the corner in the 59th minute, taking the score to 36-16.
With a strong crowd present for the final game of the season, Wests Tigers would continue to pile on the points and crossed for a superb attacking play in the 64th minute as Tautaiolefua somehow kept the ball in play for Toa Mata’afa to plant the ball down.
Tautaiolefua narrowly missed his first conversion of the day, leaving it at 40-16.
Trent Pye would be the next in on the action as he collected a late offload to crash over next to the posts, before Pakau crossed in the corner to bring up the half century.
Josh Bermingham capped off a perfect afternoon from Wests Tigers with a try three minutes from full-time, ensuring the home side capped off 2017 in the winners’ circle.
NYC FULL TIME — Wests Tigers 54 (Doolan 2, Giles 2, Pakau, Pye, Mata’afa, Tout, Tali, Bermingham tries; Tautaiolefua 7/9, Peck 0/1 goals) def. New Zealand Warriors 16 (Iro, Fineanganofo, Vuna tries; Popoalii 2/3 goals) at Leichhardt Oval