A Joel Edwards try with seven minutes left has propelled the Wests Tigers to an upset 18-16 win over the North Sydney Bears in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW match played at Chatswood Oval this afternoon.
Coming from 16-6 down with 15 minutes to play, the Tigers showed great determination to score their first win for the Intrust Super Premiership NSW win – and send the Bears crashing to their first season loss.
In a tight and tough opening period, the Tigers showed that they meant business when hooker Jacob Liddle burst clear from dummy half in the 17th minute from half way to send five-eighth Justin Hunt away for his first try under the posts. Jordan Rankin converted for a 6-0 Tigers lead.
The Bears then worked their way into field position for former Melbourne Storm and Newcastle Knights prop Robbie Rochow to step into the clear 13 minutes later, before being brought down close to the Tigers’ line.
Bears halfback Eli Levido then darted past the backpedalling Tigers defence to score on the next tackle. Levido converted his own try to level scores up at 6-6.
The scores remained level at half-time despite both sides having half chances late in the first half.
As both sides probed for the opening as the arm wrestle continued through the middle to start the second half, the Bears took full advantage from two Tigers errors – both from kicks – to take the lead.
First, Tigers winger Luke Garner dropped a high Luke Kelly midfield bomb 14 minutes into the second half to give the Bears a scrum feed and field position from close range.
Bears winger Abbas Miski finished a neat left sided short side move at the end of the set from the scrum to score in the corner and give the Bears the lead at 10-6.
Nine minutes later, Tigers fullback Watson Heleta made a terrible mess of misjudging another Kelly midfield bomb.
Heleta allowed the ball to bounce instead of taking the spiralling kick on the full; Levido pounced on the bouncing ball coming through on the chase and toed the ball ahead to the in-goal area to score his second try under the posts.
Levido converted his own try and the Bears almost looked home with a 16-6 lead.
The Tigers, however, were not to be denied.
Forcing a Bears mistake with 12 minutes left, the Tigers got sufficient field position for halfback Rankin to send a cross field kick on the last tackle of the next set for Hunt to make a spectacular leap and mid-air catch on the full to dive over for his second try.
Ranking converted to set up the grandstand finish at 16-12 as the match entered the last 10 minutes.
With seven minutes left, a left sided move late in the tackle count saw Hunt break clear and time his pass beautifully for Edwards to crash over and score. Rankin nailed the conversion and the Tigers were back in front.
The Tigers defence then just held on in a frenetic closing five minutes in the face of waves of late North attack inside the Tigers 20 metre area to clinch their first win of the season.
The Tigers will now face up to Mounties at Leichhardt Oval next Saturday, while the Bears have to pick themselves up for a meeting with Canterbury-Bankstown at Belmore Sports Ground next Saturday.