Wests Tigers second half comeback has fallen short at GIO Stadium with the Canberra Raiders holding on for a 20-12 win.
After a slow start had the visitors trailing by 14 points through the opening quarter of the game, Michael Maguire's side produced a much improved second half to keep themselves in the contest but were unable to get the job done in the end.
Dropping two wins outside the top eight off the back of the result, Wests Tigers now face a crucial clash next Friday to take on the Newcastle Knights in a match that will also feature as Life Member Robbie Farah's 300th NRL appearance.
The home side were on the beneficial side of a dubious knock-on call to start the match, and it didn't take long to turn that advantage in to points with Josh Hodgson combining with Dunamis Lui on last tackle to put the Raiders in front.
A penalty off the back of a scrum proved the catalyst for the second soon after, with Hodgson again the main architect as he found space behind the ruck for Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to race through and touch down just before the dead-ball line.
Jarrod Croker would have no problems with either conversion from in front to give the home side a 12-0 lead after just 10 minutes of play, with the Raiders boasting as many tries as the visitors had even had sets with the football.
Wests Tigers would hit back through Josh Aloiai in the 18th minute as the big man crashed over off a short ball from Robbie Farah, but an error off the ensuing kickoff would put the home side right back on the attack and across the line as a clever cut-out pass from Aidan Sezer put Jordan Rapana over untouched.
With a third conversion and a penalty goal soon after, Croker would extend the home side's lead to 20-6 midway through the first half before a disastrous tackle would see both Matt Eisenhuth and Thomas Mikaele forced off for an HIA.
While Eisenhuth would return after half-time, the news wasn't as good for Mikaele.
That didn't deter the visitors to start the second half, however, with an off-the-cuff bit of play from Benji Marshall putting David Nofoaluma over in the corner for his third try in two weeks — putting him on top as the club's all-time try-scoring winger.
Mbye continued his perfect night with the boot with a wonderful curling effort from the sideline to reduce the margin to 20-12, and it could have been just two soon after were it not for the Bunker denying an effort from Elijah Taylor.
The visitors would continue to battle away with their defence in an enthralling and high quality second half but were unable to crack the home side in the end,
Canberra Raiders 20 (Lui, Nicoll-Klokstad, Rapana tries; Croker 4/4 goals) def. Wests Tigers 12 (Aloiai, Nofoaluma tries; Mbye 2/2 goals)
Match: Raiders v Wests Tigers
Round 18 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra