The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 14-10 in a scrappy affair at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Bulldogs dominated possession and field position for the majority of the opening half and opened the scoring in the 8th minute when Brett Morris crossed over in the corner. A 15th minute penalty goal to Moses Mbye extended the lead to 8-0 but they were unable to score another try, despite plenty of attacking opportunities. The Tigers were able to turn away the Bulldogs every time, before Corey Thompson scored on the wing from a beautiful cut-out pass by Benji Marshall. Another penalty goal to Mbye just before the end of the half meant the Bulldogs took a 10-4 lead into the break.
The Bulldogs again had plenty of ball to start the second half but couldn’t break the Tigers defence, before all the momentum swung in the Tigers’ favour when David Nofoaluma scored in the 52nd minute. Handling errors from both teams dominated the game after that but when Chris Lawrence grounded a Tui Lolohea grubber kick in the 65th minute, the result was sealed. The Bulldogs fought hard until the final whistle, but never looked dangerous enough to steal a late win.
FIFTH TACKLE OPTIONS A WEAKNESS FOR THE DOGS
As they have done all season, the Bulldogs’ effort was there for all to see, but their attacking woes are a real worry for coach Dean Pay. Time and again, the Dogs attacked the Tigers line but could only muster one try early on in the match. They constantly looked like they lacked any sort of direction, and their fifth tackle options in attacking sets never threatened the Tigers defence.
The Bulldogs were hoping the addition of Kieran Foran to the team would improve their attack, but Foran has struggled all year-long. The effort and endeavour are there for the Dogs, but with just three wins from 12 matches, their finals hopes are all but gone in 2018.
JOSH REYNOLDS MAKES IMMEDIATE IMPACT OFF THE BENCH
The Bulldogs dominated the opening ten minutes of the second half, before Josh Reynolds entered the fray an turned it around for the Tigers against his old side. In just his second appearance this season, Reynolds played a big role in his team’s win, highlighted by his play in the lead up to the Tigers’ second try. A quick tap after a penalty in the Bulldogs’ half got his team on the front foot and eventually resulted in Nofoaluma scoring in the corner.
It’s still unclear whether Reynolds will continue to come off the bench for the Tigers but if today’s match is anything to go by, the Tigers look a much better side with him on the field.
LAST CHANCE FOR ORIGIN HOPEFULS
With the State of Origin teams set to be announced on Monday, today’s game presented the last chance for a few players to stake their claims. Aaron Woods, Josh Jackson and David Klemmer are all in the frame for the New South Wales side, and it was Klemmer who stood out the most.
Klemmer ran for 159 metres including three tackle breaks and three offloads. He arguably looked the most dangerous among his team with ball in hand and will be hoping this performance seals his spot in Brad Fittler’s side.
BENJI CONTINUES TO TURN BACK THE CLOCK
When the Tigers recruited Josh Reynolds in the off-season, many wondered whether Benji Marshall would be able to crack the first grade side. But an injury to Reynolds prior to the season opener paved the way for Marshall and he hasn’t looked back since.
In near career-best form, Benji again starred for the Tigers forcing a drop out, and producing a line-break assist and a try assist. His best play came in the 29th minute when he threw a perfect cut-out ball to his winger Corey Thompson. Needless to say, it’s exciting to watch Marshall playing some good footy.
WESTS TIGERS 14
Tries: Corey Thompson, David Nofoaluma, Chris Lawrence
Goals: Esan Marsters 1/4
Drop Goals: n/a
Tries: Brett Morris
Goals: Moses Mbye 3/3
Drop Goals: n/a
Wests Tigers: 1 Tuimoala Lolohea, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Mahe Fonua, 5 Corey Thompson, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer, 9 Jacob Liddle, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Chris Lawrence, 12 Michael Chee-Kam, 13 Elijah Taylor Interchange: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Josh Reynolds, 16 Matthew Eisenhuth, 18 Josh Aloiai
Canterbury Bulldogs: 1 Moses Mbye, 2 Brett Morris, 3 John Olive, 4 Will Hopoate, 5 Marcelo Montoya, 6 Matt Frawley, 7 Kieran Foran, 8 Aaron Woods, 9 Jeremy Marshall-King, 14 Adam Elliott, 11 Josh Jackson, 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 13 Rhyse Martin Interchange: 10 David Klemmer, 15 Clay Priest, 16 Renouf Toomaga, 17 Kerrod Holland