Wests Tigers have failed to overcome injuries, penalties and a mountain of possession against them — going down 32-12 to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Lottoland this evening.
With just over 30% of the footy for the entirety of the match and a host of players out of position with injuries, Wests Tigers did their best to keep the top-four bound Sea Eagles at bay for the majority of the game but simply couldn't keep pace in the end.
The loss leaves Michael Maguire's side outside the top eight but not out of the finals race with a season-defining clash against the Newcastle Knights looming next Saturday as they look to bounce back at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Already down regular hooker Robbie Farah, Wests Tigers were dealt a cruel blow just six minutes in to the contest when replacement number nine Jacob Liddle was helped from the field with a likely season-ending injury to his left knee.
With a weight of possession and field position against them, Maguire's side did their best to hold out the home side as long as they did before a deft grubber from Daly Cherry-Evans put Jack Gosiewski over for the first points of the night.
Reuben Garrick continued his strong rookie season with another conversion to give the Sea Eagles a deserved 6-0 lead through the opening 20 minutes of the match.
Marshall magic sends Nofoaluma over
Despite only having 31% of the footy, Wests Tigers managed to level the match through David Nofoaluma in the 25th minute when the right winger wrapped around to the left to score untouched off a clever short ball from Benji Marshall.
However, with a heavy penalty count in their favour, the home side would restore their six-point lead just before the break with Gosiewski grabbing his second before Dylan Walker crossed in the final set of the half to extend the lead to 12.
There was no change to the momentum to start the second half, either, with the visitors continuing to defend their own line with a plethora of repeat sets.
After a damaging run from Tom Trbojevic and a questionable play the ball, Manly eventually got the scoring going again in the second half when Jorge Taufua crashed over before Moses Suli quickly grabbed another to extend the lead.
Garrick was unable to land either conversion which limited some of the damage for Wests Tigers as the visitors continued to plug away with limited opportunities.
The club's two leading try-scorers of all-time — Marshall and Chris Lawrence — would combine with seven minutes remaining to send Luke Brooks over for a long-range try, but it was too little too late for Maguire's team on the night.
Addin Fonua-Blake would put the icing on the cake with a strong run three minutes from time, with Garrick landing the simple conversion to make it a 32-12 win.
After back-to-back losses, Wests Tigers will face the Newcastle Knights in a season-defining Round 23 clash at Campbelltown Sports Stadium next Saturday.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 32 (Gosiewski 2, Walker, Taufua, Suli, Fonua-Blake tries; Garrick 4/6 goals) def. Wests Tigers 12 (Nofoaluma, Brooks tries; Momirovski 2/2 goals) at Lottoland
Match: Sea Eagles v Wests Tigers
Round 22 -
Venue: Lottoland, Sydney