After a fast start, an undermanned Wests Tigers have gone down 18-16 to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs for the second time this season at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
Having led 8-0 at the break, Michael Maguire's side were forced to play with 15 for the majority of the contest and found themselves 10 points down in the second half as a result as the Bulldogs ran in three tries in the space of 11 minutes.
The loss leaves Wests Tigers still in the hunt for finals football, but needing to bounce back next week when they open Round 21 on Thursday against Manly.
It was the perfect start for Wests Tigers who got the scoring started after just seven minutes of play when Paul Momirovski crashed over out wide, but things quickly started to unravel for the visitors with injuries and costly calls arising.
First it was captain Moses Mbye who succumb to a quad injury shortly after his side's first try before Robbie Farah went shortly after with a knee complaint.
Luke Garner was then sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes after a controversial late shot — leaving the visitors with a new-look side and plenty of defensive work to do — but they handled the assignment well to maintain their early advantage.
Momirovski's stunning finish opens the scoring
Momirovski would stretch the lead to eight points when he added a penalty goal shortly after, giving Wests Tigers a 8-0 lead at the half-time break.
With Mbye and Farah both sidelined for the remainder of the contest, it was the Bulldogs who came out firing in the second half to take the lead with Josh Jackson and Jeremy Marshall-King crossing within minutes to give the hosts a 12-8 lead.
Nick Meaney would then add a 90m intercept against the run of play to take the scoreline to 18-8 after the winger added his third conversion for the night.
Maguire's men wouldn't go away without a fight but couldn't come up with the final pass needed to break the Bulldogs line despite a number of good opportunities.
Momirovski eventually got his side's second try of the night when he spun his way through three defenders to touch down out wide, with his sideline conversion rattling off the post to set the match up for a grandstand finish at ANZ Stadium.
With one last roll of the dice after Chris Smith's late sin-binning put the visitors on the attack, Benji Marshall found Garner short to send the crowd in to raptures but Momirovski was unable to convert from out wide and the hosts held on to win.
Wests Tigers have a short turnaround ahead of their next game with a Thursday night clash looming against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Lottoland.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 18 (Jackson, Marshall-King, Meaney tries; Meaney 3/3 goals) def. Wests Tigers 16 (Momirovski 2, Garner tries; Momirovski 2/5 goals) at ANZ Stadium
Match: Bulldogs v Wests Tigers
Round 21 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney