A late comeback wasn’t enough as the Wests Tigers kept their season alive in a thrilling 22-20 win over the Manly Sea Eagles at Campbelltown Stadium on Thursday night.
The Sea Eagles were the first to score when they took advantage of a Tigers error, Daly Cherry-Evans stepping through a gap to race to a 6-0 lead in just the third minute. Neither side was able to get on top in a first half that had plenty of errors, but the Tigers eventually broke the deadlock when Mahe Fonua produced a brilliant offload to Kevin Naiqama for his first try of the evening in the 30th minute. A penalty goal to Cherry-Evans in the 40th minute meant the Sea Eagles took an 8-6 lead into the break.
The Tigers took control early in the second half as they ran in three tries in five minutes to race to a 22-8 lead. Chris Lawrence jumped on a Robbie Farah grubber kick in the 47th minute before Alex Twal broke through some soft defence in the following set before handing off to Moses Mbye who scored under the sticks, then Naiqama scored his second in the corner off an Mbye cutout ball. Trent Hodkinson kept the match alive when he strolled over from dummy half in the 63rd minute before Tom Trbojevic produced a freakish pick-up and pass to set up Cherry-Evans nine minutes later. Cherry-Evans had a chance to tie the game after the siren with a long range penalty goal but he couldn’t quite get the distance, the Tigers winning 22-20
SEASON STILL ALIVE FOR TIGERS
It wasn’t convincing, but the Tigers still have an outside chance of making finals after the win over the Sea Eagles. Even if they do manage to finish in the top eight, coach Ivan Cleary will know there’s still plenty of work to be done if they want to make a deep run.
The Tigers missed a whopping 59 tackles and outside of the five minute period in which they ran in three tries, their attack struggled. No doubt they will take the win but much improvement is still needed.
ERRORS DOMINATE CONTEST
It was a nail-biting finish but for the majority of the contest it was a scrappy affair. The Tigers and Sea Eagles combined for 24 errors throughout the match, most of those coming in the first half.
The Tigers will be particularly disappointed with their effort as they held the best completion rate in the competition coming into this match.
NO LACK OF EFFORT FROM THE SEA EAGLES IN A HORROR SEASON
In what has been a season from hell for the Sea Eagles, particularly over the last few weeks, fans have to be proud of the effort they put in to never give up in this clash. With all the drama surrounding the coaching future of Trent Barrett and the ownership of the club, they produced a gutsy effort against a team still fighting for a top eight spot.
After allowing three tries in five minutes to go down by 14 points early in the second half, many expected the Sea Eagles to roll over but they fought hard and almost did enough to come back and win. It’s been a season to forget but they should be proud of their effort in this match.
TURBO PRODUCES ANOTHER STARRING PERFORMANCE
In an otherwise disappointing season for the Sea Eagles, Tom Trbojevic has been a shining light all year long. Earning a New South Wales jersey earlier this year, Trbojevic has continued to get better as the season as gone on and produced another brilliant performance in his side’s loss.
He ran for 281 metres, an amazing 121 of those coming off kick returns and produced a brilliant try assist to set up Cherry-Evans’ second try, picking the ball up with one hand just centimetres off the ground and passing off to his captain all in the one motion in something that has to be seen to be believed. He’s already emerged as one of the best fullbacks in the competition and it seems he’s only getting better.
WESTS TIGERS 22
Tries: Kevin Naiqama 2, Chris Lawrence, Moses Mbye
Goals: Esan Marsters 3/4
Drop Goals: n/a
MANLY SEA EAGLES 20
Tries: Daly Cherry-Evans 2, Trent Hodkinson
Goals: Daly Cherry-Evans 3/4, Trent Hodkinson 1/1
Drop Goals: n/a
Wests Tigers: 1 Moses Mbye, 2 David Nofoaluma, 3 Esan Marsters, 4 Mahe Fonua, 5 Kevin Naiqama, 6 Benji Marshall, 7 Luke Brooks, 8 Russell Packer, 9 Robbie Farah, 10 Ben Matulino, 11 Chris Lawrence, 12 Michael Chee-Kam, 13 Matthew Eisenhuth Interchange: 14 Alex Twal, 15 Sauaso Sue, 17 Josh Aloiai, 18 Jacob Liddle
Manly Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic, 2 Jorge Taufua, 3 Moses Suli, 4 Brian Kelly, 5 Brad Parker, 6 Dylan Walker, 7 Daly Cherry-Evans, 8 Addin Fonua-Blakee, 9 Manase Fainu, 12 Shaun Lane, 11 Joel Thompson, 16 Jack Gosiewski, 13 Jake Trbojevic Interchange: 10 Martin Taupau, 14 Trent Hodkinson, 15 Kelepi Tanginoa, 19 Matthew Wright