The Wests Tigers have held off a resilient Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles side to clinch their second victory of the season in what proved to be a physical encounter at Leichhardt Oval. The Sea Eagles will be ruing their missed opportunities with a Brendan Attwood double not enough to secure their side’s third win in as many games.
The game began in disastrous fashion for the Wests Tigers as the opening kick-off torpedoed in the air and took a wicked bounce that found the dead-ball line. The Sea Eagles looked threatening with their first attacking opportunity in the opening minutes. As luck would have it, a Sea Eagles knock-on would spare the Tigers from an embarrassing start to the game.
The first try of the afternoon came in the ninth minute when Cameron Cullen spotted some lazy defense in the middle of the ruck and burst through to set up his front-rower Taealoaloa Amone, who strode in under the sticks for the first points of the match. Matthew Wright had no issues with the conversion.
Some grinding football was the answer for both sides after points before Cameron Cullen lost the ball 40 metres out from his own line. This proved crucial as the Tigers marched into the attacking 20-metre zone which allowed Jordan Rankin and Veiru mapesone to link and put their winger Ryland Jacobs over in the corner. Rankin converted with a curling kick which Johnathan Thurston would have been proud of, nicking the upright to lock the scores up at 6-6.
The Tigers looked to have scored the very next set through Kyle Lovett but he was ruled to have made a second effort as the try was disallowed for a double movement.
It proved a costly error as the Sea Eagles marched down the field off the back of that penalty and a Pita Godinet kick proved too tricky to handle for Watson Heleta, who fumbled with Brendan Attwood picking up the scraps to score. Matthew Wright failed to convert with some help from the Leichhardt faithful.
The Sea Eagles looked to be on the front foot with an exciting interchanging of passes and offloads. However it seemed as though there may have been one too many, with Jayden Wheelhouse snatching a wayward pass and diving into the corner to lock things up at 10-10. Rankin missed his kick to the left of the uprights, leaving the scores locked.
A sloppy error saw the Sea Eagles hit straight back through some simple catch-and-pass play for Kelepi Manu to dive in the corner to again snatch the lead back from the home side. Wright again failed to convert his sides try from the sideline.
Kyle Lovett would soon have his redemption for his costly double-movement, as he made no mistake in charging over some weak defense to score. Rankin made sure his side would take the lead into the half-time break with his conversion.
The second half saw the Tigers start much better than the first; they forced an error from Shaun Lane and instantly made them pay with Darcy Cox holding onto a pass from Jeremy Marshall-King, who crashed over right next to the posts. The home side took a commanding lead early in the second stanza.
It wasn’t long before the Tigers went in again with a raid on the Sea Eagles short side and Watson Heleta finding the in-goal for the Tigers fifth try of the afternoon. Another tough conversion was successful from Rankin as the Tigers began to cement their lead.
An outstanding effort from the Sea Eagles was what it took to hit back, as the second kick in the play saw Viliami Kaveinga leap for the ball and offload in the same motion to find Brendan Attwood, who secured his second try of the afternoon.
A spirited Sea Eagles side tried in vain to run down the deficit but a steely Tigers defensive effort saw the scoreline remain.
The eight-point lead ended up being enough for the Tigers as the halves took control and wore the clock and their opposition down to seal their second win of the season. Showing plenty of promising signs, the Wests Tigers will be hoping to build on their performance and carry it into next week’s game as they take on the Newcastle Knights – once again at Leichhardt Oval.
Wests Tigers 28 (R Jacobs, J Wheelhouse, K Lovett, D Cox, W Heleta tries; J Rankin 4 goals) def Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 20 (B Attwood 2, T Amone, K Manu tries; M Wright 2 goals)