By Michelle Boon
The Wests Tigers showed great resolve for the second consecutive week to defeat the Newcastle Knights 26-22 at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday.
The opening quarter of the match was a dour affair with Newcastle dominating field position and possession without return while the Tigers were struggling to get their game going.
But as so often happens, the Tigers were first to score with minutes to go after absorbing a long period of sustained defensive pressure down their own end they worked it up field in two sets then took advantage of a quick play the ball from close range which saw a rampaging Curtis Sironen charge over between defenders in his first match of 2014.
Five eighth Mitchell Moses didn’t convert and they led 4-0.
Eight minutes later Knights’ second rower James Elias crossed out wide after they sliced through the left hand centres 40m out for winger Marcel Ikinofo to scoot up the sideline before turning it inside to Elias in support for the finish.
Winger Josh Mantellato converted to make it 6-4 Knights.
The Knights went further ahead with three minutes left in the half when Ikinofo scored in the left hand corner finishing off a great backline move using space up the left hand touchline.
Mantellato couldn’t convert and the score was 10-4.
Right on half time Moses completed the play of the match after winger Marika Koroibete sliced through the middle of the field off a kick return 30m out from his own line and made 40m before a wrong option saw him turn it inside towards the looming defence but they quickly shifted it left where Moses was in support and he went over out wide.
Hooker Dayne Craig added the extras to tie the game at 10-all at the half time break.
The Tigers went on the offensive upon resumption when centre Setefano Taukafa scored out wide in the 43rd minute, touching down out wide on a well-weighted Sironen grubber but Craig couldn’t convert to take the score to 14-10.
Five minutes later Knights’ replacement Brenton Horwood crossed out wide easily threading his way through poor defence close to the Tigers’ line and Mantellato was on target to put them back into the lead 16-14.
Soon after Koroibete scored out wide after a Knights’ turnover on halfway saw them quickly shift it left where Koroibete found space up the left hand touchline, he then stepped inside the cover defence to go over.
Craig’ conversion gave them the lead at 20-16.
The Tigers then took advantage of the Knights having a player sent off for Koroibete to notch his double with 17 minutes remaining, going over under the posts after they regathered a Knights’ grubber 15m out from their own line before smartly moving it left where Koroibete was on an overlap, and from 30m out he had too much speed to be hauled in.
Craig converted to put them further ahead at 26-16.
The Knights were ready to make a game of it and with 10 minutes to go Ikinofo also posted his double scoring controversially in the left hand corner taking advantage of open space and using his strength to take defenders over with him but it appeared that they may have done their job by putting him into touch before planting the ball down.
As they say though, read it on the scoreboard and Mantellato’s conversion kept them alive at 26-22.
Unfortunately it all came to nought as the Knights weren’t able to come up with a winning play and the Tigers recorded another victory to remain entrenched inside the top eight.
Next weekend the Tigers host top of the table Wentworthville out at Campbelltown on Saturday afternoon while the Knights make the trip across the Tasman to tackle the Warriors on Sunday.
Wests Tigers 26 (M Koroibete 2, C Sironen, M Moses, S Taukafa tries; D Craig 3 goals) def. Newcastle Knights 22 (M Ikinofo 2, B Horwood, J Elias tries; J Mantellato 3 goals) at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.