A blistering second half attacking spell from Wests Tigers has seen them come from behind to down the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 22-20 tonight at Campbelltown.
Trailing by two points at the break and staring down the barrel of another disappointing defeat, Ivan Cleary's side exploded out of the blocks in the second half — scoring three tries in four minutes to race away on the scoreboard and ensure they emerged with the two competition points on offer.
The win sees Wests Tigers temporarily move to within two points of the Broncos and Warriors on the competition ladder ahead of next week's final round clash against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
With their season on the line, Wests Tigers began extremely well, with Robbie Farah cutting open the Sea Eagles defence with his second touch of the ball. The home side went agonisingly close to scoring in the corner through Mahe Fonua — only to be denied by some stunning cover defence from the Sea Eagles.
Moses Mbye also went close as Cleary's side piled on the early pressure, but they were again undone by errors, with too many turnovers costing the Wests Tigers the chance to race to an early advantage.
It would prove costly for Wests Tigers as Manly worked the ball down field and eventually posted first points through Daly Cherry-Evans, with the captain converting his own try for an early 6-0 lead.
2018 Match Highlights: Rd.24, Wests Tigers vs. Sea Eagles
Playing with a care-free attitude in attack, Trent Barrett's side could have had more points yet for some poor handling close to the line, which kept a sluggish Wests Tigers in the contest just before the break.
In his final game at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Kevin Naiqama would cross for a crucial four-pointer just before the break to level the scores at six-all before a penalty goal to Cherry-Evans right on the stroke of half-time would ensure that Manly hit the sheds with a surprising two-point lead in hand.
Whatever Coach Cleary told his troops at half-time must have worked, with Farah and Chris Lawrence combining for a crucial try on last tackle to put the visitors in front for the first time on the night.
In just the second tackle of the ensuing set, front row forward Alex Twal would produce the best attacking play of his career — breaking the line inside his own 30m before stepping Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic and then holding him off to linking up with Moses Mbye, who raced away to score under the posts.
When Naiqama touched down for his second with half an hour still to play, it looked like Wests Tigers were going to run away with a convincing victory but the Sea Eagles weren't going away without a fight.
First Trent Hodkinson crashed over next to the posts to keep the visitors in the contest, before Trbojevic and Daly Cherry-Evans combined again to put the halfback over for his second try of the night.
His conversion cut the hosts' once commanding lead to just two points with seven minutes to play, but with the home crowd behind them, Wests Tigers did enough to hold on for the win to keep their season alive.
Wests Tigers 22 (Naiqama 2, Lawrence, Mbye tries; Marsters 3/4 goals) def. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 20 (Cherry-Evans 2, Hodkinson tries; Cherry-Evans 4/5 goals) at Campbelltown Stadium