Marshall leads Wests Tigers to dominant victory over Eels
Wests Tigers have bounced back from a last start defeat to post a dominant 30-20 victory over the Parramatta Eels in today's Easter Monday match at ANZ Stadium.
Having produced the competition's best defensive record through the opening three rounds, it was the attack of Wests Tigers that stood out most in the win for Ivan Cleary's side — posting more points in this afternoon's game alone than they have in the first three games of the season combined.
The win sees Wests Tigers end Round 4 inside the top four on the competition ladder, with a trip to Mount Smart Stadium to take on the Melbourne Storm in the NRL's doubleheader next up on the schedule.
An errant kick from Benji Marshall early on would gift Parramatta prime field position, and the Eels would soon make it count as Will Smith out-jumped Tuimoala Lolohea in the air for first pints of the day.
Mitchell Moses made no mistake with the conversion to give the Eels a 6-0 lead after as many minutes.
Marshall wouldn't have to wait long to atone for his earlier error, however, with a clever play back against the grain on last tackle finding an overlap on the right and Robbie Rochow for his first try in Wests Tigers colours. And from the exact same spot as in Round 1, Lolohea showed his improved goal-kicking goals once more with a terrific curling conversion from the sideline to level the match once again.
The veteran five-eighth, who was in some doubt pre-game with an ankle injury, continued to charm the Eels' defence and soon put the home side in front for the first time with a cut-out ball finding Kevin Naiqama out wide. The Fijian international brushed away from the attempted tackle of Moses and fell over the line for his first try of the year, with Lolohea again nailing the sideline conversion.
As the home side continued to find their feet in attack, the lead was extended beyond a converted try with a penalty goal from Lolohea in the 30th minute before Corey Thompson ensured the half ended on a positive note for Ivan Cleary's men with an acrobatic finish in the corner — akin to his match-winner in Round 1.
Lolohea continued his perfect afternoon with the boot with a third sideline conversion, giving Wests Tigers a 14-point lead to take in to the half-time sheds at ANZ Stadium.
A clever short side play out of the half-time break saw Wests Tigers extend their lead through Matt Eisenhuth, with the second year forward crashing over for the first try in his NRL career.
Once again, Lolohea made it no mistake from out wide as he extended the score to 26-6.
Wests Tigers would take their tally to 30 points with a quarter of the match still to play as Marshall and Esan Marsters terrorised the Eels' left edge defence — leading to a second try for Thompson.
Lolohea was unable to keep his perfect afternoon with the boot going, however, eventually failing with his first sideline attempt of the day to keep the lead for Wests Tigers at 30-6.
Parramatta would pull one back with some slick play on the right edge involving Tony Williams and Michael Jennings laying on the final pass for brother George to score on his club debut.
Moses continued a strong afternoon for the goal-kickers with a sideline conversion to take the score to 30-12, before a kick over the top from Corey Norman to Josh Hoffman cut it even further to 30-16.
A penalty for incorrect play the ball with five minutes to go would give Parramatta one more attacking set, and Kirisome Auva'a would end it on a positive note for the visitors with a diving effort out wide.
However, with the result well in doubt midway through the second half, Wests Tigers would see rest of the match out and ensure they would emerge with the two competition points in hand.
Wests Tigers 30 (Thompson 2, Rochow, Naiqama, Eisenhuth tries; Lolohea 6/7 goals) def. Parramatta Eels 20 (Smith, G.Jennings, Hoffman, Auva'a tries; Moses 2/4 goals) at ANZ Stadium