A sluggish performance from Wests Tigers has seen them downed 16-4 by the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in their Round 20 clash tonight at ANZ Stadium.
A far cry from their dominant upset over the ladder-leading Rabbitohs just a week prior, Ivan Cleary's side struggled to find their momentum against a resilient Bulldogs defensive outfit — kept scoreless for the opening hour of the match before eventually crossing through Esan Marsters late in the piece.
The Kiwi international's try threatened to lift the visitors to an unlikely comeback, but they simply ran out of time in the end as the Bulldogs emerged with the two points to end Wests Tigers' winning run.
Despite Wests Tigers making the early running and looking the most likely to post first points, it was the home side who crossed first against the run of play off the back of a seven-tackle set.
Michael Lichaa's short side raid from dummy half found Kerrod Holland at pace, with Rhyse Martin adding the extras from close range to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead after 15 minutes of play.
Off the back of errors and poor finishing in attack, Cleary's side continued to find themselves under pressure in defence and did well to hold on with the hosts starting to pressure the issue in attack.
The visitors had a chance to level the match just before half-time, but were once again undone with a lack of polish inside the Bulldogs' 20m line — leaving the home side with a slender 6-0 lead at the break.
Following another extended period of attack on Wests Tigers' line, the Bulldogs pushed their lead beyond a converted try with a penalty goal to Martin before a well-worked move involving Will Hopoate and Holland saw the centre streak away for his second try of the night to put the home side further in front.
With time running out, Wests Tigers eventually got on the board in the 65th minute when Marsters crashed over out wide for his second try in as many matches to make it 14-4 following the missed conversion.
Cleary's men found themselves on the attack once more with a chance to cut the lead further, but like so much of the match, simply couldn't find the final pass required to unlock the Bulldogs defensive line.
In the end, it was simply a matter of seeing the game out for the home side, who closed the contest out well to finish with a 12-point win that moves them away from the bottom of the competition ladder.
Wests Tigers will look to keep their slender finals hopes alive next Friday night when they take on the Newcastle Knights in the early kick off at McDonald Jones Stadium for their Round 21 clash.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 16 (Holland 2 tries; Martin 4/4 goals) def. Wests Tigers 4 (Marsters try; Marsters 0/1 goal) at ANZ Stadium