WESTS TIGERS BEAT COWBOYS 34-14
By Wayne Cousins at Leichhardt Oval.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Wests Tigers kept their semi-final aspirations alive with a crushing 34-14 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys at historic Leichhardt Oval today in round 19 of the Telstra Premiership.
In front of a crowd of 18,804 on a perfect Sunday afternoon, Wests Tigers overcame a slow start to storm home to beat the Cowboys to move to 18 competition points - just four points outside the top eight.
The win was built on some committed defence and some superb performances led by captain and hooker Robbie Farah,who bravely fought a bout of tonsilitis to take to the field.
North Queensland Cowboys opened the scoring in front of a packed crowd at Leichhardt Oval after just 44 seconds when a break by hooker Anthony Watts and gave an inside ball to send full-back Matthew Bowen in under the posts.
Half-back and captain Johnathan Thurston converted the try from in front for a 6-0 lead.
A crossfield kick on the last tackle by captain and hooker Robbie Farah led to a break by centre Ty Williams whcih took play 60 metres downfield. A few tackles later, the Cowboys received a penalty in front of the posts.
Thurston converted the try for a 8-0 lead after 11 minutes.
Wests Tigers had a good attacking opportunity in the 20th minute and kept the ball alive well inside the Cowboys quarter.
However it all came unstuck when a long cut out pass by five-eighth Benji Marshall went over the sideline instead of finding winger Beau Ryan.
Marshall made up for his mistake three minutes later when he raced acrossfield and showed the ball before finding a gap to score in the corner for a 8-4 scoreline.
The try came from a scrum win after centre Willie Tonga dropped the ball from dummy half 10 metres out from his line.
Farah came off worse for wear when Watts connected with a punch from the scrum. Watts was warned but no action was taken.
Marshall converted the try from the sideline in front of the packed hill for a 8-6 scoreline.
Two minutes later, a scrum was packed with Watts throwing punches at Farah. A small melee erupted with Farah coming out of it at the back. Watts was this time sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes by referee Shayne Hayne, much to the roar and approval of the Wests Tigers faithful.
The faithful then booed the decision by Hayne to send Farah to the sin-bin for 10 minutes as well before giving Farah a standing ovation. The penalty went to Wests Tigers with play going inside the Cowboys quarter.
The pressure was relieved when a grubber kick by Marshall went dead.
Marshall again made up for his slight mistake when the ball was spread left after a strong run acrossfield by winger Taniela Tuiaki to find Marshall who sent centre Chris Lawrence down the left flank to score for a 10-8 lead after 34 minutes.
Marshall converted the try for a 12-8 lead.
Tuiaki was then involved two minutes later when he crossed for a try out wide after he finished off a backline play involving Marshall and Lawrence for a 16-8 lead. Marshall failed to convert the try.
Wests Tigers faithful gave their heroes a standing ovation as they left the field for half-time after trailing 8-0 early.
Two minutes into the second half, a perfectly timed hit by John Morris on a clearing kick by Thurston saw the half-back stay down on the ground but both referees played on.
Wests Tigers bombed a tryscoring opportunity three minutes later when half-back Tim Moltzen got on the outside of the defence to pass inside to centre BlakeAyshford who dropped the ball five metres from the tryline with one man to beat.
A minute later, a great inside ball by Marshall put full-back Shannon Gallant into the clear. ‘Mighty Mouse’ raced 40 metres towards the corner to outbeat the cover defence to score for a 20-8 lead. Marshall failed to convert the try.
North Qld applied plenty of pressure on the Wests Tigers defence for five minutes after the 50 minute mark but the home side dug deep. One such play by prop John Skandalis in forcing a mistake from knock-on in making a tackle saw his team-mates run in and pat him on the head for such an inspirational play.
The Cowboys scored a soft try in the 64th minute when second-rower Carl Webb stepped and crashed his way over from dummy half through the attempted tackle of Farah and Gallant.
Thurston converted the try for a 20-14 scoreline.
Wests Tigers got back to a 10 point lead when lock Corey Payne burrowed his way over from dummy half in the 69th minute to score next to the posts. Payne moved to dummy half after Farah dropped back to call the next play with Marshall. The try came on the back of a superb 60 metre break by Marshall from a quick penalty tap.
Marshall converted the try for a 26-14 scoreline with eight minutes remaining.
A minute later, Wests Tigers elected to go for goal 25 metres out through Marshall after Matt Bowen was penalised for dropping the right arm into the neck of Moltzen in making a kick return.
Marshall converted the penalty for a 28-14 scoreline.
A minute later from the re-start, a break down the grandstand flank by Tuiaki saw him tackled. A quick play the ball saw prop Todd Payten pulled down short of the line. Wests Tigers got a penalty for the Cowboys being off-side.
From the penalty and a few plays later, Farah put a short grubber kick through when it appeared nothing was on to break through the last line of defence to dive on the ball and salute the Wests Tigers fans behind the posts.
Marshall converted the try for a 34-14 lead with the score remaining that way till full-time.
For the Wests Tigers, Farah, Benji Marshall,Gareth Ellis, Corey Payne, Tim Moltzen and Shannon Gallant all had strong games. Debutant Simon Dwyer, up from the Toyota Cup, made a solid debut in the time he had on the field.
The NRL victory capped off a great day for Tigers supporters with earlier wins to the Wests Tigers in the Toyota Cup and to the Balmain Ryde Eastwood Tigers.
Wests Tigers now travel to the ACT to play Canberra Raiders next Sunday in another must-win match.