The Wests Tigers have surged ahead late in the game to clinch a hard-fought victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium. Thanks in part to some consistent attacking football from Man Of The Match Watson Heleta and Justin Hunt, the Tigers took their tally to 24 competition points and rose to fourth position.
The Blue-and-whites were boosted by the selection of NRL hooker Craig Garvey, also shifting Kerrod Holland into the starting line-up in place of Reimis Smith. The men from Concord, meanwhile, welcomed Joel Edwards into the side and moved Esan Marsters from the second row to the centres.
Jack Littlejohn opened the scoring for the Tigers in the sixth minute, thanks to some crafty work from dummy half Jeremy Marshall-King. He made the most of a Curtis Sironen offload to break the line and set up Marshall King next to the posts. Justin Hunt converted for an early 6-0 lead.
The Bulldogs soon got a fortunate repeat set on the Tigers' line and made the most of their field position with a perfectly-executed Brad Abbey try. The fullback was too quick for the Tigers' defence when chasing through a Harrison Siejka grubber, before Kerrod Holland levelled things up with the conversion.
Abbey went close to turning from hero to zero moments later with a dropped bomb near his own line - but the Bulldogs defence defended the error and bundled Watson Heleta into touch.
Rampaging runs from Ray Moujali and Siejka weren't enough to earn points when the Bulldogs got their opportunity and the Tigers were let off the hook. They made the home side pay almost immediately, with Heleta showing his pace to score in the corner. The conversion was missed and the Tigers led 10 points to six.
With a dangerous-looking Littlejohn bomb, the visitors could easily have had another moments later, but more solid left-side defence saw Jayden Wheelhouse thrown into touch in-goal. The game then took a turn for the worse with Chase Stanley being helped from the field with a knee injury - something he has had significant problems with in the past.
The Tigers had one last roll of the dice and threw everything they could at the Bulldogs to finish up the opening stanza, but ultimately headed into the sheds with a 10-6 half-time lead.
Both sides had genuine tryscoring opportunities early in the second half but it was Abbey who went closest, with a break before a mis-timed offload just five metres away from the line.
It set off a sustained period of high-quality, back-and-forth football but the Bulldogs slowly appeared to be building pressure; they forced two line dropouts - one of which had appeared to be a certain Bulldogs try - but were once again unable to capitalise.
Eventually, however, something had to give and it was Intrust Super Premiership NSW debutant Charlie Taylor who would break the deadlock for the Tigers. He made the most of some fine play from Heleta and managed to come around to score under the posts, allowing for an easy conversion and a 10-point lead for the away team.
Chance Peni soon all but secured the victory and exploited what was some poor Canterbury defence on their left edge. He, too, brought the try around to the posts for an easy conversion and with just five minutes remaining, the lead scoreline would be insurmountable for the home side. The game wasn't finished with yet, however - Hunt got a deserved try from an intercept and 85-metre run in the final minute of play. With the successful conversion they finished 28-6 and took another valuable two competition points.