Gold Coast Titans 12 (Kelly,Sezer tries; Sezer 2/2 goals)
Wests Tigers 42 (Richards 2, Tedesco, Brooks, Taupau, Nofoaluma, Thompson tries; Richards 7/8 goals)
The Wests Tigers defeated the much fancied Gold Coast Titans 42-12 on a steamy Sunday afternoon at CBUS Super Stadium.
Throughout the week, Wests Tigers fans and players expressed their frustration at the club not being able to put in an 80 minute effort. The players and coaching staff addressed the issue midweek and had critics hiding behind their notepads.
The Tigers, as they did against the Dragons in Round 1, shot out of the blocks early to lead 10-0 after only 8 minutes. Led by young stars Luke Brooks and James Tedesco, the team left the Titans struggling for answers and clutching at thin air. Returning favourite Pat Richards had a game to remember, scoring 22 points through 2 tries and 7 goals, running for over 200 metres and submitting his entry for the longest drop out seen, a 72 metre effort which left Greg Bird scurrying back to his own 30 metre line.
The Tigers have become accustomed to playing games with 15 or 16 players, and this game was no different, with injury prone Chris Lawrence going down early in the first half with a hamstring strain which will see him miss the Round 3 clash with the Rabbitohs and possibly the trip ‘across the ditch’ to face the Warriors in Round 4.
Defensive plans and a much for disciplined display from the Tigers laid the platform for the side to push on and gain complete control of the game.
The highlight of the afternoon was a brilliant try set up and finished by two local juniors. In the 71st minute, as the game came to a standstill due to the torrid conditions and lopsided score line, Luke Brooks placed a chip kick over the Titans defensive line, with James Tedesco chasing through, the fullback was able to gain possession of the ball and in one motion place it onto his boot for Luke Brooks to dive on the ball in the in goal area to score a brilliant try and cap a great afternoon for the Wests Tigers.
In the atrocious conditions, the bench impact for both teams was going to be crucial. The Titans entered the match with a bench which had 412 games of NRL experience, the Tigers bench boasted just 60 games between them. Aggression in attack and defence was the order of the day for the Wests Tigers and it rang true with the forward pack and interchange bullying a much fancied and much more experienced Titans pack. It has been quite some time since the Tigers put in a defensive performance like we saw on Sunday, let alone play consistently for 80 minutes.
Inexperienced players like Sauaso Sue, Marty Taupau, James Gavet and Ava Seumanufagai provided the spark for the side off the bench, and carried on the platform set earlier in the match by rep forwards Aaron Woods and Keith Galloway.
Interestingly, the players who had been criticised during the week stood up and contributed in more ways than one for the Tigers. Paterson, Anasta, Thompson and Lulia all copped the wrath of fans and critics but responded in the best possible way.