Wests Tigers have claimed their first win of the 2021 season with a thrilling 24-20 victory against the Newcastle Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Having led from the majority of the match, it appeared Michael Maguire's side were in for a heartbreaking finish when Tyson Frizell crossed with 10 minutes to go to give the hosts the lead but David Nofoaluma's second try of the year put Wests Tigers back in front and in the winner's circle for the first time this year.
Halves Luke Brooks and Adam Doueihi were impressive throughout the 80 minutes — Brooks set up two tries, while Doueihi scored a try, assisted another and kicked all four goals including a clutch sideline conversion in the final minutes.
Young forward Stefano Utoikamanu scored his first try of his NRL career after he received a delicate short ball from Brooks to charge 30 metres to the try line.
The 20,239 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium were treated to an entertaining first 40 minutes with both teams scoring two tries each.
Talau breaks through after glut of possession for Wests Tigers
It took 10 minutes for Wests Tigers to score the opening try of the afternoon with centre Tommy Talau finishing off a slick shift to the left, where the ball went through a number of hands.
The Knights hit back five minutes later when fullback Tex Hoy split through, however Mitch Barnett missed the conversion.
Wests Tigers extended their lead to eight when the halves combined for a delicate try with Brooks placing a chip kick across field to Doueihi, who juggled the ball but regathered superbly to score.
Doueihi picks out the Brooks kick
Wests Tigers fullback Daine Laurie also pulled off a couple of big plays in the first half. He came up with a spectacular try-saving tackle on big man Mitch Barnett over the line before saving a 40/20 attempt from a Jayden Brailey kick.
However, it was Brailey and Barnett who combined a Newcastle try with five minutes to go before the break when the dummy-half linked up with his forward to close the gap to four points.
After storming back to take the lead in the second half — including a try from the milestone man in Pearce himself — it was the Wests Tigers who needed to stage a comeback and they did just that with Laurie and Nofoaluma combining to seal the win.
Maguire's men will look to make it back-to-back wins next week when they take on the Parramatta Eels at Stadium Australia on Easter Monday.
Wests Tigers 24 (Talau, Doueihi, Utoikamanu, Nofoaluma tries; Doueihi 4/4 goals) def. Newcastle Knights 20 (Hoy, Barnett, Pearce, Frizell tries; Hoy 2/4, Barnett 0/2 goals) at McDonald Jones Stadium
Match: Knights v Wests Tigers
Round 3 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle