Wests Tigers Tarsha Gale have kicked off their finals campaign with an outstanding 30-16 victory over the Newcastle Knights today in their first week of finals at H.E Laybutt Reserve.
After a dominant win over the Penrith Panthers last week to confirm their top four spot, Wests Tigers led essentially from start to finish against the second-placed Knights, who themselves entered the finals off the back of a 44-point win last week.
Wests Tigers' commitment in defence and clinical attack paved the way for a 14-point win — earning the side a week off and entry to the Preliminary Final, where they will face the winner of the Semi Final between Illawarra and Parramatta.
Wests Tigers begun the game with two tries in the opening 10 minutes to Bianca Cornwell and Ally Beaufills as they raced to a 10-0 lead, before the Knights hit back with three tries to take a slender 12-10 advantage midway through the match.
Emily Curtain put Wests Tigers back in front with a determined run moments before the end of the second third, with her successful conversion taking the score to 16-12, before two quick tries to the visitors after the break sealed victory.
A bulldozing run from Litiana Smith-Warwick put Wests Tigers out by more than a converted try before Mamana Alatani glided under the posts to extend the lead.
Smith-Warwick would grab a double in the final moments as Newcastle's Joeli Morris crossed on the siren, but it would be too little too late for the more-fancied Knights, who will now play to keep their finals hopes alive next week in an Elimination Final against last year's defending premiers Cronulla.
Wests Tigers 30 (Smith-Warwick 2, Alatini, Beaufils, Cornwell, E.Curtin tries; E.Curtin 3/6 goals) def. Newcastle Knights 16 (Harrison 2, Kernick, Morris tries; Johnston 0/4 goals) at HE Laybutt Field