Wests Tigers have ended their winless drought by claiming the Royce Simmons Cup with a brave 12-8 victory over the Penrith Panthers at Carrington Park.
Match: Panthers v Wests Tigers
Round 9 -
Venue: Carrington Park, Bathurst
Tim Sheens’ side executed their simple game plan to perfection as they maintained a high completion rate in torrential conditions to defeat the reigning premiers.
Luke Brooks gifted his side with a dream start by kicking a 40/20 in the first set of the match.
The halfback then followed his pinpoint punt with a deft grubber for Brandon Wakeham to score his first try in the orange, black and white.
Penrith quickly equalised in a similar fashion, with former Wests Tigers utility Tyrone Peachey diving upon a low-bouncing kick from Jarome Luai.
Referee Adam Gee sent Brent Naden to the sin bin in the 16th minute after the centre hit Zac Hosking with a shoulder charge.
After holding out the reigning premiers for a number of sets, Sunia Turuva looked certain to cross for Penrith’s second try of the night.
However, a last ditch defensive effort from David Nofoaluma dislodged the ball from Turuva’s grasp and ensured that scores remained level.
Stephen Crichton and Brandon Wakeham traded penalty goals to end an impressive first half from the visitors, who overcame the monsoonal conditions to complete at 90%.
Luke Brooks provided Wests Tigers fans with a sense of déjà vu to start the second half as he kicked his second 40/20 of the match.
In his second NRL game, Jahream Bula took full advantage of the ensuing field position by providing David Nofoaluma with a perfect cutout pass for the winger’s 100th try in the top flight.
Nathan Cleary looked to have tied up the scores, but another desperate defensive effort from Jahream Bula forced the ball free.
A hip drop tackle from Soni Luke saw the young hooker sent to the sin bin with eleven minutes remaining on the clock.
Penrith had a number of chances to steal the game in the final stages, but Wests Tigers remained stout in defence and earned their first victory of the season.
There were outstanding performances right across the park for the joint-venture, who completed 38 of their 42 sets and held onto 55% of possession.
David Klemmer led the way in the forward pack with 22 runs and 209 metres, while Alex Twal was outstanding in defence with 36 tackles made and 0 missed.
Jahream Bula won plenty of fans over with his game at the back as the young fullback diffused a number of kicks from Nathan Cleary before providing the assist for the match-winning try.
Wests Tigers will now turn their attention to a trip to Brisbane for Magic Round, where they will face the St George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday afternoon.