The Tigers recorded a stunning 20-16 upset over the Dragons at Jubilee Oval to keep their slim finals hopes alive.
The Tigers played an up-tempo style of footy from the start. An early grubber in the 4th minute saw Kevin Naiqama pounce on a loose ball for a try. However video review ruled that he had dropped it which was the first of four errors from Naiqama.
There was no video review necessary though when Luke Brooks sliced through the line in the 10th minute to get the Tigers on the board.
Brooks opposing number 7 got them back moments later as Ben Hunt ran through some fairly weak defence on the goal-line to cross under the posts.
Errors and dodgy forward pass calls like a Marshall special to Chee-Kam, which looked line ball at best, prevented any further tries scored in the first half.
An early try to Corey Thompson in the 2nd half gave the Tigers early momentum. They took advantage of constant goal-line pressure to take a 20-6 lead after a try to Nofoaluma.
The Dragons threatened to make a late surge just as they did against the Eels. Two late tries to Widdop and Dufty gave them a chance but by then the earlier mistakes had taken their toll.
Marshall/Farah renew winning combo
The Tigers legends were influential in their victory. Benji Marshall’s short kicking game was exceptional as he and Brooks combined to force 4 line drop-outs. Farah’s attacking potency out of dummy half set up two of their side’s three tries with some clever passing and grubber kicks.
As the clichés of rugby league go, if you don’t turn up on the day you’re going to get beat. The Dragons looked lethargic for large portions of the match and it was reflected in their handling stats with 16 errors in total.
Coach Mary McGregor didn’t use rep period fatigue as an excuse. He instead emphasized the side improving on a poor 66% completion rate and field position for the future.
Lawrence injury a big blow for Tigers
Chasing down a kick into the in-goal, Chris Lawrence’s went down as his hamstring suddenly gave out. The injury is likely to see him miss a few weeks which is going to provide a headache for Ivan Cleary.
Macdonald injury to test Dragons depth
The Dragons first grade side may finally have to deal with a player missing games through injury. Nene Macdonald left the field at the 27 minute mark with a left ankle injury.
They had Kurt Mann on the bench as backline cover but his performance as a replacement was less than stellar. With the likes of youngsters like Zac Lomax still injured, the Dragons could feel the sting of injuries soon enough if more of their outside backs start to fall.
Tries: Luke Brooks (10m), Corey Thompson (45m), David Nofoaluma (58m)
Goals: Esan Marsters 4/4
Tries: Ben Hunt (15m), Gareth Widdop (69m), Matt Dufty (74m)
Goals: Gareth Widdop 2/3