It was an important two points secured by Wests Tigers on Friday as they held off a fast-finishing Newcastle Knights side for a 25-16 win at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Leading by 18 points midway through the second half, Ivan Cleary's side looked on course for a big win, before Kalyn Ponga threatened to bring the Knights back in to the contest with a flurry of late attacks.
In the end, a late Luke Brooks field goal gave Wests Tigers enough breathing space to see the game out, and temporarily close the gap to the eighth-placed New Zealand Warriors to just two points.
It wasn't necessarily the most pretty win for Wests Tigers, but it certainly was an important one for the joint-venture, with plenty of key numbers to come out of the win, thanks to Income Tax Professionals...
It was his first try of season 2018 and his first four-pointer for Wests Tigers since July 2, 2016 but Robbie Farah's second half try was a record breaker in more ways than one with the 34-year-old passing Luke Priddis to become the all-time top try-scorer for a hooker in Premiership history. The pair had been level one 63 tries since Farah scored in Round 17 last year, but the Wests Tigers Life Member would eventually claim the record as his own with his 64th career try on Friday night. Looking forward, it's hard to see anybody contending for Farah's record either, with the 31-year-old Isaac Luke perhaps most likely on 44.
2018 Match Highlights: Rd.21, Knights vs. Wests Tigers
While they certainly didn't look outplayed by their counterparts, Wests Tigers forwards looked to have a tough night at the office if the numbers are anything to go by. As a team, Wests Tigers ran for just 1323 metres — their lowest number recorded in a win all season and their second lowest in a game all season. By comparison, the team had 200 metres more in last week's loss to the Bulldogs (1540m) and their season average sits well above Friday's effort (avg. 1482m) but it was tough going against the Knights. Only one forward ran for more than 100 metres on the night, with Sauaso Sue again getting a special mention for his efforts. In just 33 minutes, the prop chalked up 11 runs for 127 metres while also adding 16 tackles.
Speaking of tackles, it's worth noting the efforts of Michael Chee Kam, who led the team with an incredible 47 tackles — a number quite high for an edge forward. Playing his 50th NRL game, Chee Kam's efforts in defence weren't the only ones that stood out for Wests Tigers, though, with the 26-year-old only just finishing above Elijah Taylor (45) and Matt Eisenhuth (43) in the tackle count. Knights hooker Danny Levi finished with the most tackles by any player in the match, racking up 51 in his side's nine-point loss.
Post-Match: Michael Chee Kam
With a win tonight over Newcastle, Wests Tigers continue their impressive record of not being beaten twice by a team all season. The Knights had gotten first blood when they came from behind to down Wests Tigers in Tamworth, but Cleary's men bounced back on Friday to preserve their record and claim the Allan McMahon Shield in the process. What's even more interesting is that only one team could break this record before the end of the year — next week's opponents in the Canberra Raiders. The Green Machine got the points when the two sides met earlier in the year at Campbelltown, and with top eight aspirations on the line, Wests Tigers will certainly be desperate to turn that around when they meet next Sunday in the nation's capital. Following that game, Wests Tigers play the Dragons, Sea Eagles and Rabbitohs to close out the regular season — sides they have already chalked up victories against in season 2018.
Most Metres — Nofoaluma (154m), Naiqama (131m), Sue (127m), Mbye (116m)
Most Tackles — Chee Kam (47), Taylor (45), Eisenhuth (43), Farah (30)
Most Tackle Breaks — Brooks (8), Nofoaluma (8), Garner (3), Thompson (3)
Most Kick Metres — Brooks (9 kicks for 224m), Marshall (7 kicks for 215m), Farah (2 kicks for 84m)