The Wests Tigers survive a comeback from Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to take out the match at Leichhardt Oval.
Wests Tigers 36
Tries: Luke Garner (5), Staford To’a (13), Ken Maumalo 2 (27, 39), Fa’amanu Brown 2 (62, 78), Jock Madden (69)
Goals: Jock Madden 3 (14, 63, 70, 79)
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 22
Tries: Matt Burton (42), Jeremy Marshall-King (45), Jacob Kiraz (54), Aaron Schoupp (73)
Goals: Matt Burton 3 (43, 46, 74)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
Alex Twal and the Wests Tigers celebrated the big prop’s 100th NRL game with a strong win over the Bulldogs in front of a vocal crowd at Leichhardt Oval.
It was a game that had two sin bins, a quick fire second half comeback and plenty of tries in a wet night.
Wests Tigers welcomed new recruit and former Bulldog Brent Naden into their much-depleted backline.
The visitors were missing star winger Josh Addo-Carr through illness and had a raft of changes which included young gun Jacob Kiraz coming into the backline for just his second NRL game while Joe Stimson swapped with Tevita Pangai-Junior.
Latecomer Zack Docker-Clay made his debut from the bench while Raymond Faitala-Mariner returned after more than a year on the sidelines with injury in what was interim coach Michael Potter’s first game in charge.
Matt Burton’s monster left boot was on show in the opening 10 minutes, but it was some horrible defence on display from the Bulldogs as Luke Garner sliced through a flimsy attempt at tackle to score in their first territorial set of the match.
Jackson Hastings was on the ball constantly for the home side, orchestrating play and steering their attack. He laid on the next try for fullback Starford To’a who went over almost untouched.
With just 29 per cent possession in the opening 20 minutes you would think the Bulldogs would focus on ball security, however on their only real chance of the half they turned the ball over on the second play.
With Wests well in control the Bulldogs were shambolic in defence, looking low on energy and inviting the home side to attack. If not for a great one on one tackle by Kyle Flanagan, Luke Garner would have had his second.
Poor discipline haunted the visitors as it has all season, conceding six penalties in the opening 25 minutes.
On the back of one such penalty a swift backline movement saw Ken Maumalo touch down out wide from a Naden tap on.
On the back of yet another penalty and knock on, it was Maumalo with his second off the back of a scrum play, touching down in spectacular fashion.
Every time the Bulldogs gained possession, they seemed to throw it away, making six errors and conceding seven penalties on their way to a scoreless first half that was dominated by the Tigers in every facet.
HALF-TIME: Wests Tigers 18 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 0Embed from Getty Images
Matt Burton and Tevita Pangai Jnr began the half on fire, a monster kick from Burton leading to a goal line drop out before Pangai Jnr stepped and offloaded to send Burton over next to the posts.
In the next set a Jeremy Marshall-King line break led to Hastings spending 10 minutes in the bin for a professional foul.
The next set was poor from the Bulldogs, until the final tackle when Marshall-King reached out to score. Burton’s conversion closed the gap to six.
With Hastings in the bin, the Bulldogs took control but failed to score. That was until Hastings ran back on. Moments later a Burton bullet pass found Aaron Schoupp, whose flick pass found Jacob Kiraz who scored in the corner.
With Hastings back on the Tigers began to find their mojo again, but the Bulldogs would have to do it tough to clinch the lead after Aaron Schoupp was controversially sin binned for a dangerous tackle.
In the next set former Bulldog Nu Brown’s dummy half scoot paid dividends as he scored his first try in the NRL since 2018.
Old habits die hard, and they certainly came back to bite the Bulldogs, conceding several more penalties with a man in the bin. It gave them next to no chance to complete a promising comeback.
A piece of individual brilliance by Madden locked up a Wests Tigers win, chipping and chasing for himself to score and extend the lead to 14.
To’a looked to have his second try until the Bunker intervened for a push in the back. In the next set, Schoupp redeemed himself with a brilliant step and slide into the corner for a consolation try. The sideline conversion closed the gap to eight.
With two minutes to go, Brown again darted from dummy half and was awarded his second of the night. Madden’s conversion made the final score 36-22.
Hastings limped off in the final minute with a leg injury.
Despite a small chance of victory, the Bulldogs were ultimately too inconsistent as the Tigers attack proved good enough.
FULL-TIME: Wests Tigers 36 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 22
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Jock Madden (Tigers), 2 pts – Joe Ofahengaue (Tigers), 1 pt – Jackson Hastings (Tigers)
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