In a high quality game befitting a game between teams number one and three on the Intrust Super Premiership ladder, Mounties have prevailed 27-20 to maintain top spot.
Mounties led 12-10 at half-time in what proved to be an even contest between two of the competition’s front-runners but Sam Williams’ class proved telling as the competition leaders took the game by the scruff of the next to lead 26-10 midway through the second half before the Tigers scored two late tries to add some respectability to the final score.
Williams had a hand in all five of his team’s tries with his kicking and passing game, even kicking a late field goal and proved to be the main difference despite the Wests Tigers being bolstered by the inclusion of experienced NRL player, Curtis Sironen.
Sironen, after having a bright start to his game where he had a significant hand in his side’s opening two tries, became increasingly frustrated by the lack of quality ball and it was no surprise to see those frustrations boil over when he was sent to the sin bin late in the game by referee Chris James for dissent.
Mounties could have scored first through Kato Ottio but strong in-goal defence from John Tohi and Michael Chee-Kam somehow prevented the winger from scoring.
The Tigers were rewarded for those defensive efforts to score the opening try of the game with Sironen and Jack Littlejohn combining to put Jayden Wheelhouse over in the right corner to score.
But the PNG winger soon made amends for his early miss, finishing off a sweeping backline movement to score in the corner and was duly converted by Cameron Phelps to give Mounties the 6-4 lead midway through the first half.
A Chance Peni line-break minutes later was the catalyst for the Tigers to regain the lead when Sironen and Littlejohn’s outside – inside play put fullback Watson Heleta in for a well-constructed try next to the posts.
But Peni tuned from hero to villain inside the final ten minutes of an absorbing half of footy, when he failed to secure Williams’ cross-field kick to enable Phelps to score the try which he converted to give Mounties that narrow half-time 12-10 lead.
Whatever was said in the Mounties dressing rooms at half-time by coach Steve Antonelli did the trick as the Mounties proceeded to control the game territorially with their dominance rewarded with three unanswered tries inside the opening twenty minutes of the second half.
Veteran Will Mataka, despite coming off the bench was arguably Mounties best forward and was rewarded with a barnstorming try off a deft short pass from the dummy-half, Adam Clydesdale in the 44th minute.
The Mounties extended their lead to 12 just four minutes later, after a peach of an offload from Jarrad Kennedy on the right edge, enabled Brenko Lee to power his way over the line to score.
Wests Tigers just couldn’t buy possession and after defending several sets inside their half, they conceded another try when fullback Zac Santo stepped through some tiring defence to score, giving Mounties that commanding 26-10 lead, midway through the second half.
Replacement hooker Jacob Liddle gave the Tigers a glimmer of hope with fifteen minutes remaining when he burst through the line off a Joel Edwards offload to set up Michael Chee-Kam for the try.
But despite finally getting some quality possession at the back end of the game, the Tigers were unable to add further points and the game was put beyond doubt late in the game when Williams capped a fine afternoon to kick his side back out to a 13-point lead.
The Tigers to their credit despite being reduced to 12 men after Sironen’s indiscretion, played out the 80 minutes and were rewarded on the siren with a try to Chance Peni but all to no avail as the competition leaders won their 10th game of the season 27-20.
Next Saturday, the competition leaders travel to Belmore to take on Canterbury while the Wests Tigers return to their spiritual home at Leichhardt Oval to host the Penrith Panthers.