By Michelle Boon
The Wests Tigers snatched a last-gasp come from behind 27-26 win over Manly at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
In tricky conditions the Tigers were first on the board when winger Taqele Naiyaravaro leapt high over his opposite winger to take a Blake Austin bomb and touch down in the left hand corner after 15 minutes. Austin converted to lead 6-0.
Soon after Tigers’ second rower and captain Jarrod Farlow scored out wide running straight through a gap from 10m out to finish off a great backline move. Austin slotted the goal to take the score to 12-0.
Manly replied with 17 minutes to go through winger Matt Ikuvalu going over in the right hand corner, taking a chip kick with ease. Halfback Manaia Rudolph couldn’t convert and the score was 12-4.
Shortly after Manly fullback Clint Gutherson scored under the posts after hooker Jayden Hodges busted through some weak defence in the middle of the field 40m out from the Tigers’ line then turned it inside to Gutherson giving him a 20m clear passage to the tryline. Rudolph’s conversion edged them closer at 12-10.
In the final minute of the half Manly winger Jayden Horo crossed in the left hand corner intercepting an Austin pass 10m out from his line then showing lightning speed to outpace the cover defence and race over. Rudolph didn’t convert but they went into half time 14-12 ahead.
Manly maintained their advantage upon resumption when second rower James Hassan barged over in traffic near the posts from close range and Rudolph’s conversion extended their lead to 20-12.
Tigers’ centre Asipeli Fine scored out wide after 8 minutes slicing through a gap off a superb Ben Murdoch-Masila pass 15m out. Austin added the extras to close the score to 20-18.
Three minutes later it was familiar territory for Naiyaravaro finishing off a super backline move in traffic to go over in the left hand corner and claim his double. Austin failed to convert but they were back in front 22-20.
Manly hit back 5 minutes later when Horo posted his double in the left hand corner also finishing off some slick passing from close range. Rudolph converted to give them the lead 26-22.
With 3 minutes remaining Naiyaravaro went over in the left hand corner, earning him a treble and giving a deserving finish to a great opportunity created from winger Marika Koroibete taking an intercept 10m out from his own line. Austin wasn’t able to put the icing on the cake but the scene was set for a thrilling finale with scores locked at 26-all.
It went right to the wire as the Tigers had the last set of the match and finding themselves in good field position Austin took a field goal attempt 25m out with 3 seconds on the clock which presented no problems for the cool-headed five eighth, giving them a 27-26 victory in heart-stopping circumstances for the second week in succession.
This weekend the Tigers head out west to tackle the Panthers while Manly return to Brooky to host the Sharks.
Wests Tigers 27 (T Naiyaravoro 3, A Fine, J Farlow tries; B Austin 3 goals & field goal) def. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 26 (J Horo 2, M Ikuvalu, C Gutherson, J Hasson tries; M Rudolph 3 goals) at Leichhardt Oval.