It was a special night for Wests Tigers in Auckland as Ivan Cleary's side came from behind to down the Melbourne Storm for the second time this season.
Trailing by six points midway through the second half, Life Members Chris Lawrence and Benji Marshall were key for Wests Tigers — scoring a try and a field goal each to put the hosts in front. The result sees Wests Tigers improve their record to 4-1 and cement themselves in the top four.
With plenty of key numbers to come from the win, we take a look at the ones that made the difference...
As it has been all season, defence was the difference for Wests Tigers as they held the Storm's clinical attack to just 10 points on the night. The 10 points conceded took Wests Tigers' points against to just 55 through the first five rounds — the lowest in the competition — with just 11 points against per game. It's the fourth time that Wests Tigers have kept an opponent to 10 points or less this season, with just a late clock off against the Parramatta Eels in Round 4 standing out in that regard. Incredibly, Wests Tigers have conceded just seven tries through five rounds in 2018; in 2017, 27 tries had been scored in that time.
On a special night for Wests Tigers, it was fitting that a club legend was able to chalk up a milestone a long time in the making. Chris Lawrence's crucial try in the second half was the 77th of his career — making him the highest all-time try-scorer in Wests Tigers colours, passing Benji Marshall on 76. The five-eighth almost took the record back with 10 minutes to go in the game when he was held up over the line, but there was no taking the moment off Lawrence — currently in his 13th season for the joint-venture.
There's a lot of "firsts" happening with this team in 2018, but one that stands out is the two wins over defending premiers in Melbourne. Wests Tigers have never beaten the Storm twice in the same season until now, while Melbourne had not lost twice to the same side in a year since 2015. Both records: smashed!
Melbourne's big men certainly came to play on Saturday afternoon and it took an inspired performance from Wests Tigers in the middle of the field to stay in the contest. Across the board, Wests Tigers ran for 1605 metres — just three metres shy of their season highest back in Round 1. However, the crucial thing for the hosts was the 525 metres that were achieved post-contact — easily the highest number the side has achieved this year. And while we're at it, it's worth noting the work of Benji Marshall and Luke Brooks in their kicking game, with the 609 kick metres chalked up on the night the most they've recorded all year.
We don't want to single out too many individuals in what was an emphatic team victory, but a special mention must go to No.17 Josh Aloiai for his superb performance off the bench. In just 37 minutes of action, the versatile forward was in everything, recording a try, a linebreak, 17 runs for 173 metres, four tackle breaks, an offload and 25 tackles. His 56 metres post-contact were also the most in the team. With Russell Packer expected to be sidelined for a few weeks with the knee injury sustained late on against the Storm, Aloiai could prove to be a very handy player to help cover that loss in the near future.