The Cronulla Sharks have beaten the Wests Tigers 25-8 in a sudden death game at Leichhardt Oval to book themselves a spot in the finals.
In front of a packed Leichhardt Oval, the Tigers drew an early penalty out of the Sharks right in front of the posts and opted to take the two points. Off the following kickoff, Josh Dugan kicked out on the full to hand the Tigers a penalty on halfway, but the Tigers weren’t able to capitalise after some good defense from the visitors. Following this effort, the Sharks turned defence into attack when young Ronaldo Mulitalo chased through his own chip kick, but wasn’t able to regather and get the ball down thanks to some scrambling Tigers defence.
Chad Townsend swung the momentum of the game when he nailed a 40/20. Off the back of this, Briton Nikora found a way through the defence to open the scoring for the Sharks. A tense period of play followed as both sides tried to gain the ascendency. It was the Tigers who scored next, with Paul Momirovski converting a penalty goal to level the scores at 4-4. The Sharks were awarded a contentious penalty just before halftime and Shaun Johnson converted the penalty goal to put the Sharks up by two at the break.
The Sharks forced an early line drop out to put the Tigers under pressure. As a result, Shaun Johnson was able to thread a kick through for Josh Morris to score after Esan Marsters was unable to clean up. The Tigers gave away a penalty in the next set and the Sharks made them pay. They kept the ball alive and Sosaia Feki got over in the corner to extend the lead to 18-4. Cronulla could smell the blood in the water, as Feki went over again a few minutes later to drive the lead out to 20 points and further demoralise the Tigers.
Eventually the Tigers got a break when Luke Garner scored a long range try to give the crowd some hope. There would not be any miraculous comeback from the Tigers however, as the Sharks defence would not be broken for the rest of the game. Paul Gallen put the icing on the cake, kicking his first ever field goal to send the Tigers packing and secure 7th spot on the ladder with an impressive 25-8 victory.
Sharks survive the Tiger’s cage
Cronulla had the unenviable task of coming to Leichhardt Oval on a Sunday afternoon and beating the Tigers in sudden death footy. In a win-or-go-home game, they made it look a lot easier than many people predicted. After a tense first half, the Sharks came out in the second half and scored three unanswered tries to silence the crowd and put a huge dent in the Tigers’ confidence. Their defence was also outstanding all day and is a big reason why they eventually got the win.
Tigers fall agonisingly short of finals again
Another year, another 9th placed finish for the Wests Tigers. Sure, they did a lot better than most people expected coming into this year, but the sting of this loss will leave a bitter taste in the mouth for the Tigers and all their fans. There is no doubt coach Michael Maguire will use this feeling as motivation for the offseason. The finals drought rolls on for the Tigers, who are still on the hunt for their first finals appearance since 2011.
No fairytale farewell for Farah
Robbie Farah thought he had already played his last game. However, when the Tigers lost star fullback Corey Thompson in the warm up, Farah pulled on a jersey and ran out onto his beloved Leichhardt Oval one last time. The Tigers were not able to get a win for Farah, who would’ve loved to finish his career playing finals footy. Instead, he retires after 303 NRL games, a legend of the Wests Tigers.
Finals jigsaw puzzle now complete
With the Sharks beating the Tigers at Leichhardt, the finals picture is now complete. The Sharks have secured 7th position on the ladder and will travel to Lottoland next week to play Manly. The Broncos finish in 8th and will play Parramatta at Bankwest Stadium. Meanwhile in the top four, the Storm take on the Raiders while the Roosters face off against the Rabbitohs once again.
Wests Tigers 8
Goals: Momirovski 2/3
Drop Goals: n/a
Cronulla Sharks 25
Tries: Feki 2, Nikora, Morris
Goals: Johnson 4/5
Drop Goals: Gallen 1/1
Wests Tigers: 3. Paul Momirovski 2. Robert Jennings 17. Michael Chee-Kam 4. Esan Marsters 5. David Nofoaluma 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Thomas Mikaele 9. Josh Reynolds 10. Oliver Clark 11. Luke Garner 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Ryan Matterson Bench: 14. Matt Eisenhuth 15. Elijah Taylor 16. Alex Twal 21. Robbie Farah.
Cronulla Sharks: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Bronson Xerri 4. Josh Morris 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 16. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen Bench: 8. Aaron Woods 14. Kurt Capewell 15. Jack Williams 17. Braden Hamlin-Uele