Wests Tigers have bounced back with a starring performance to down the North Queensland Cowboys 36-20 tonight in front of a small but vocal crowd at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Having shown signs of improvement in last week's close defeat to Canberra, Wests Tigers raced out of the blocks to post their equal biggest ever half-time lead — stunning the Cowboys to hold an unassailable 34-point advantage at the break.
The six-try romp in the first half would not only pave the way for Wests Tigers' second win since the resumption of the 2020 season, but also gave a significant boost to the side's points-differential ahead of next Sunday's clash with the Bulldogs.
It would take Wests Tigers just 106 seconds to get the scoring started when Harry Grant linked up with Zane Musgrove for his first try in the NRL.
2020 Match Highlights: Rd.6, Wests Tigers vs. Cowboys
The start was the quickest from a Wests Tigers team since 2016, and it didn't take the hosts long to double their advantage when Adam Doueihi continued his good form at fullback to put Joey Leilua over on the right edge.
Captain Moses Mbye would make no mistake from out wide for a 12-0 lead.
The competition's equal leading top try-scorer heading in to Round 6, David Nofoaluma would turn provider moments later when he shrugged away from several defenders before looping a wide ball to Mbye. The Wests Tigers captain would perfectly draw and pass to put Luke Brooks over under the posts, before backing up again later in the half to bag his first four-pointer of the year.
Wests Tigers just keep producing unbelievable team tries
Challenged to run the ball more pre-game by Coach Michael Maguire, Brooks would end the half with over 100 metres on the ground and with a number of classy touches while Josh Reynolds continued to cause problems on the right edge.
After setting up the first, Grant would again turn provider for another prop — this time linking with Josh Aloiai to ensure both book ends would finish the first half on the try-scorers list.
In what was a near perfect half, game-ending injuries to Alex Twal (knee) and Robert Jennings (hamstring) — the latter of which came as the Tongan winger crossed for a try — put somewhat of a dampener on the first 40 minutes as Wests Tigers went to the sheds with their biggest lead since they faced the New Zealand Warriors in 2004.
Beginning the second half on the front foot, Wests Tigers gifted the Cowboys their first points of the night when Scott Drinkwater collected an intercept pass to run the better part of 70 metres. That would spark a mini revival for the visitors, who would take advantage of an undermanned Wests Tigers to cross twice down the left edge through Kyle Feldt to narrow the margin to 18 points.
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With Wests Tigers injury toll getting worse with Zane Musgrove helped off, Mbye slotted a penalty goal from out wide to push the lead beyond three converted tries, before coming up with a crucial try-saver to deny Ben Hampton out wide.
Esan Marsters would cross for a consolation effort in the final moments of the match to put further positivity on the scoreboard for the Cowboys but it would do little to help change a result that was never in doubt from half-time.
Injury concerns to Twal, Jennings and Musgrove will cause some questions for Maguire during the week, although rookie back Tommy Talau could be back available for selection to alleviate some of the positional concerns.
Wests Tigers 36 (Musgrove, Leilua, Brooks, Aloiai, Jennings, Mbye tries; Mbye 6/7 goals) def. North Queensland Cowboys 20 (Feldt 2, Drinkwater, Marsters tries; Feldt 1/2, Clifford 0/1 goals) at Campbelltown Sports Stadium