It was another determined and dogged performance from Wests Tigers that saw them knock off a second competition favourite in as many weeks last night when they defeated the Melbourne Storm 10-8 at AAMI Park.
Up against the defending premiers at home in a milestone match for Billy Slater, Ivan Cleary's side displayed tremendous grit and determination once again to pull through with a two-point victory — leaving the side undefeated heading in to a Round 3 clash against the Broncos at Campbelltown.
On a night to remember for Wests Tigers as they won just their second game in Melbourne since 2000, we take a look at all the key numbers to emerge from the result thanks to Income Tax Professionals.
For the second straight time in 2018, Wests Tigers not only fought back against a more-fancied opponent in the final minutes but incredibly posted the exact same scoreline as they did in Round 1 against the Sydney Roosters — 10-8. It's the first time in history that the club has had the exact same scoreline in back-to-back weeks: the next closest being a Round 17/18 run in 2010 when they won 16-14 and 15-14 the following week. There's also an incredible spell of four games in 2000 that saw the side lose 38-26, then 36-26 then 34-26 then 36-26 in the final four games of the season, but just not quite the exact same scoreline.
It was billed all week as the "Billy Slater show" and while the champion fullback certainly deserves his moment in the sun, Wests Tigers were determined to ruin the part on Saturday night. Prior to last night's game, Slater had won every single of his milestone matches — his first, 50th, 100th, 150th, 200th and 250th — but there was to be no joy this time around as the visitors emerged with an incredibly victory.
One of the biggest storylines and controversial points to emerge from the match is the penalty count, with Melbourne riding an 18-8 count in their favour — including a 9-1 second half count. It's the first time that a team has conceded 18 penalties in a match since 2003, a match that the Cronulla Sharks lost 74-4 to the Parramatta Eels with two men in the sin bin and two men sent off. We haven't got the exact stats, but we wouldn't think there's too many times a team has won with the other side getting ten more penalties either!
Wests Tigers came to Melbourne with a clear game plan to throw the ball around and it certainly worked for Cleary's side — as it did in Round 1 against the Sydney Roosters. The visitors amassed 24 offloads in total for the match to take their season total to 43, more than any other side so far in 2018. They lead the Warriors with 38, with the Bulldogs (25), Titans (25) and Sharks (21) all well back on Wests Tigers.
If it were possible, the wins over the Roosters and Storm have been even more remarkable for Wests Tigers given the adversity they faced in both matches with a man sent to the sin bin on both occasions. In Round 1 it was Luke Brooks binned for a professional foul on Blake Ferguson while last night saw Ben Matulino sent from the field with a dubious professional foul on Cameron Smith. Despite the man advantage going against them, Wests Tigers defended incredibly well in both games and won against the odds.
It's a sight not seen too often for Wests Tigers fans and while the sample size might be small, the fact remains that Ivan Cleary's side have the number one defence in the competition through the opening two rounds with just 16 points conceded. Given the calibre of attack played in those two games and the sin bins that have arisen so far this year, it's certainly no mean feat for Wests Tigers to hold the Roosters and Storm to just 16 points combined in 160 minutes of football! Last night's game was also the first time since Round 14, 2012 that Wests Tigers kept back-to-back teams to 10 points or less — as fate would have it, the second of those games was a 10-6 win over the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park!