It was a special night for Wests Tigers on Saturday as a club record milestone was followed by an equally-entertaining upset win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The 22-6 victory for Ivan Cleary's side (which was shaping as the team's first shutout win since 2012) ensures they remain in touch with the top eight and keeps their finals hopes alive for 2018 while also capping off Robbie Farah's special night with a win in his 250th NRL game for the club.
Let's take a look at all the key numbers to come from the thrilling win, thanks to Income Tax Professionals.
It might not have been painted on the field, but there was no denying that Wests Tigers fans were proud to see Robbie Farah reach the 250-game milestone on Saturday — the first player in club history to play 250 games for the club. The game itself wasn't all happy memories for Farah with a heavy hit from Sam Burgess in the second half and an even heavier one from George Burgess in the second, but the 34-year-old would get the last laugh with his side running out 16-point winners in the end. When he was on the field, Farah certainly added plenty to Wests Tigers in both attack and defence, with his leadership in the middle proving crucial against a strong Rabbitohs side. Farah made 39 tackles in his 71 minutes, missing just two.
The milestone will come next week for David Nofoaluma, but playing in his 99th NRL game, the winger continued his good run of form with another four-pointer — finishing off some lovely work on the right edge from Esan Marsters. Having missed several weeks this year due to a calf injury, Nofoaluma has now scored in back-to-back weeks and has four in his last six games — taking him to seventh on the club's all-time try-scoring list with 47. Next in his sights is childhood friend James Tedesco on 50 tries, while Pat Richards' 51 tries are the most scored by a Wests Tigers winger in history. There might only be a handful of games remaining in the regular season, but if the 24-year-old keeps his recent form going over the next month, both of those records might just fall by the end of the year!
It's certainly a marker in terms of run metres and Wests Tigers back five all proved their worth on Saturday night with individual efforts tallying over 100 metres. Off the back of his intercept try, Corey Thompson (154m) led the way in this regard, but Kevin Naiqama (152m), Esan Marsters (144m), Moses Mbye (126m) and Nofoaluma (115m) all managed to crack the century mark and help put the home side on the front foot. And while we're mentioning 100 run metres, it's worth giving a special note here to Sauaso Sue, who had another brilliant night coming off the bench. Backing up arguably his best game of the year against the Dragons in Round 18, Sue had 136 metres from 12 runs, three tackle breaks and 26 tackles — all in just 45 minutes of game time. Josh Aloiai also snuck over the century mark with 101m on the night.
2018 Extended Highlights: Rd.19, Wests Tigers vs. Rabbitohs
Not historically for being one of the best defensive teams, Wests Tigers have certainly shown their mettle when it comes to tackling and keeping opponents at bay this year with Ivan Cleary's side recording their sixth game of 2018 where they have kept an opponent to 10 points or less. Never before in a season have Wests Tigers managed to do this on six occasions, and it's worth adding too that four of these came against teams currently in the top four (Roosters in Round 1, Storm in Round 2/5 and Rabbitohs in Round 19). Wests Tigers record against the current top four is also impressive: five wins from six matches, with their lone defeat coming in that last-second loss to the Roosters in Round 14. Assuming their opponents don't fall in a heap between now and then, Wests Tigers still have two matches to come this year against top four sides (Dragons in Round 23 and Rabbitohs in Round 25) and it'll be interesting to see whether their impressive run of form against the top sides can continue in what is hopefully a run to the finals!
One last note for the game and it's an interesting one given the pattern that Wests Tigers have had in a number of their wins this year — dominate possession and limit the other team's chances. They certainly did that at times against the Rabbitohs, but the visitors showed their premiership credentials with a number of sustained attacking spells that saw them, in fact, lead the possession count. Ivan Cleary's side finished the game with just 42% of the ball — their lowest total in a win all season and just the second lowest total in any game all year (least was against the Gold Coast Titans in Round 16). What was key, however, was limiting their own errors with just two handling errors conceded by Wests Tigers all game — their second lowest total all season and again, their lowest total recorded in a win this year.
Press Conference: NRL Round 19