The Tigers bus has been jump started and is heading towards a potential top 8 spot, after defeating the Canberra Raiders 22-20 in the nation’s capital on Sunday.
After a week of coaching drama’s the Tigers showed that they are still playing for the coach and are buying into Ivan Clearys’ plan with a tough earnt win 22-20.
The Tigers showed they were ready to play in the first half running in 3 tries within the first 20 minutes. With an extra man advantage after Joey Leilua was sin binned for a professional foul in the 10th minute, the Tigers decided against the 2 points, and it paid off. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak crossed over out wide. Marsters missed the conversion.
In the next set off the kick-off a great run by Moses Mbye, breaking through the Raiders defence, and then throwing a dummy to run past fullback Cotric to score under the post. Marsters conversion put the Tigers up 10-0. Michael Chee-Kam then crossed over after some great play by the halves Marshall and Brooks, and terrific hole running by Chee-Kam. Marsters conversion put the Tigers up 16-0.
But the Raiders have the best attack in the competition, and it wasn’t long before their big backrower Tapine would cross over out wide, to close the gap 16-4. The worst attack in the competition wasn’t done yet, and hit back minutes later with Brooks, and Mbye again involved to put Nofoaluma over, to skip away to a 20-4 lead.
Josh Papalii crossed over with a strong run, with the big man to hard to stop close to the line, just before half time to give the Raiders hope going into the break 10 points down, 20-10.
The Tigers scrambling defence would be tested against the best attack in the competition in the second half, and their effort showed they would be a worthy top 8 team. A penalty goal to Marsters in the 44th minute extended their lead to 22-10. The Raiders crossed over in the 59th minute through a Joey Leilua try outwide, with the big man targeting Brooks. The missed conversion kept the score 22-14 to the Tigers.
Once Tapine crossed over for his second try in the 64th minute, with Sam Williams adding the extra’s it looked like the Raiders were on a roll. With 15 minutes remaining and only 2 points the difference the Tigers showed that they are a team with top 8 ambitions holding out the Raiders to record a well deserved away win 22-20.
Brooks, Mbye, and Chee-Kam were the best for the Tigers, while the Tapine was good for the Raiders, although they were their usual hot and cold selves, giving away silly penalties and mistakes at crucial times. The Tigers defended well under pressure especially in the last 15 minutes.
Hot and Cold Raiders
The Raiders have lost 5 games by less than 2 points this season, they could easily be in the eight, but their discipline, errors, and poor decisions at crucial stages has let them down throughout the season. They have the size and attack to match it with any team.
The Tigers show comittment
The win for the Tigers, shows that they are committed to their coach, and they won’t be throwing in the towel this season. Sitting 2 points out of the eight with 3 games remaining, they need to win all 3 to give them a real chance to make the 8.
Can the Tigers make the 8?
The Tigers play the Dragons at Leichhardt, followed by Manly at Campbelltown, and finishing with Souths at ANZ. Brisbane is the only likely team they could overtake in the 8, and their next 3 games start with Souths at Suncorp, the Roosters at Allianz and Manly at Suncorp.
Are the coaching drama’s finished?
Cleary has come out and stated he intends to honour his contract, with 2 years remaining at the Wests Tigers, though Ricky Stuarts tenure at the Raiders may come under the spotlight with the Raiders missing the finals for the second year running after coming so close in 2016.
Canberra Raiders 20
Tries: Joseph Tapine x 2, Josh Papalii, Joseph Leilua
Goals: Sam Williams 2/4
Wests Tigers 22
Tries: Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Moses Mbye, Michael Chee-Kam, David Nofoaluma
Goals: Esan Marsters 3/5
1 Nick Cotric, 2 Brad Abbey, 3 Blake Austin, 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Jordan Rapana, 6 Aidan Sezer, 7 Sam Williams, 8 Iosia Soliola, 9 Josh Hodgson (c), 10 Junior Paulo, 11 Joseph Tapine, 12 Elliott Whitehead, 13 Josh Papalii, Interchange: 14 Dunamis Lui, 15 Shannon Boyd, 16 Siliva Havili, 17 Luke Bateman
1 Moses Mbye, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 5 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer, 9 Robbie Farah, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Michael Chee Kam, 12 Luke Garner, 13 Elijah Taylor (c), Interchange: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Suaso Sue, 16 Robbie Rochow, 17 Matt Eisenhuth