WESTS TIGERS PRODUCE EASTER MIRACLE TO BEAT CANBERRA 35-22
By Wayne Cousins
4/04/2010 6:11:48 PM
A magnificent second half comeback has seen Wests Tigers pull of one of the finest wins in the club’s history at Canberra Stadium on Easter Sunday in round four of the Telstra Premiership.
Trailing by 12 points at half-time after the Canberra Raiders dominated the first half, Wests Tigers dug deep in defence before turning on their enterprising attack to record a superb 35-22 victory.
Wests Tigers went into the match as per the team named on Tuesday by coach Tim Sheens.
The Raiders opened the scoring in the fourth minute when prop Dane Tilse beat Gareth Ellis, Keith Galloway and Beau Ryan to score next to the posts for a 4-0 lead. It came on the back of a kick chase by full-back Josh Duggan who beat the attempted tackle of five-eighth Benji Marshall.
Five-eighth Terry Campese converted the try to give Canberra a 6-0 lead after five minutes.
The Raiders bombed a certain try in the sixth minute when a short ball by Campese put a forward in the gap only for the final pass to an unmarked winger go over the sideline.
A short grubber kick by Campese on the last tackle from 10 metres out saw winger Lote Tuqiri gather the ball only to be forced back in-goal to give the Raiders a repeat set from a drop out.
The Raiders got another set when Campese put through another kick for winger Mitch Brown to force over the deal ball line. Centre Joel Thompson was penalised for a double movement after he got up off the ground and dived over two players to force the ball down over the line out wide to score, only to be denied by referee Shayne Hayne in the 12th minute,
Canberra did get their second try two minutes later when they kept the ball alive through several hands before centre Jarrod Croker pushed past centre Blake Ayshford to race 25 metres to score in the left corner. Campese failed to convert the try for a 10-0 lead after 16 minutes.
The Raiders have dominated the opening quarter through a near perfect display.
Campese set up the third Canberra try when he gave an inside pass back to lock Shaun Fenson to beat the low tackle of prop Bryce Gibbs to score next to the posts. Campese converted the try for a 16-0 lead after 22 minutes.
Wests Tigers first half chance came in the 25th minute when hooker Robbie Farah darted 20 metres from dummy half before being taken into touch as he looked for support on the inside.
Gibbs almost scored when he ran off a pass by half-back Tim Moltzen only to be pulled down five metres short of the line. A play the ball by Gibbs saw a Canberra player dive on the ball only to be ruled offside in the 28th minute.
Video referee Tim Mander was called on in the next tackle when second-rower Gareth Ellis was held up over the line in search of second ever try for Wests Tigers. Ellis then played the ball before it was spread right through Moltzen before a short pass by lock Chris Heighington saw forward Liam Fulton split a tackle to score 10 metres away from the posts.
Marshall missed the easy conversion attempt to leave Wests Tigers trailing 16-4 after 30 minutes.
Canberra extended their lead four minutes later when Campese again stepped off his left foot to get through the line to offload in the tackle of Heighington to second-rower Joe Picker to score next to the posts.
Campese converted the try for a 22-4 lead after 35 minutes.
Wests Tigers showed some enterprising play in the 39th minute when a Marshall chip kick was regathered by Moltzen whose pass behind went to ground. Heighington picked the ball up and as he looked for support to his left, he dropped the ball.
A drop ball by 30 metres out from Canberra saw Tuqiri pick it up to race 50 metres down the sideline to link up with Marshall who stepped past three defenders to dive over in the corner right on half-time.
Marshall then converted the try from the sideline to leave Wests Tigers trailing 22-10 at half-time.
The opening four minutes of the second half saw both sides play some exciting rugby league with Tuqiri sparking the attack down the left flank again.
Some pressure by Tuqiri on former Wests Tigers second-rower Bronson Harrison saw the forward drop the ball with his winger unmarked. Harrison had a strong first half and was heavily involved in the Raiders’ attack with Campese.
Wests Tigers scored the try of the game in the 51st minute when a long cut out pass on his own line by Farah found Brown unmarked. The winger raced 40 metres down the right flank before linking with Moltzen who found support on the inside in Farah with the hooker racing away to score under the posts to complete a superb 95 metre try.
Marshall converted the try to leave Wests Tigers trailing 22-16.
Some very good attacking defence by the Wests Tigers outside backs in the 55th minute saw Canberra drop the ball 10 metres from the tryline.
Wests Tigers have still only used 15 players after 60 minutes with back-rower Mark Flanagan and utility Daniel Fitzhenry still sitting on the interchange bench.
Canberra received a penalty in the 61st minute after Wests Tigers were penalised for laying too long in a tackle. Campese failed to convert the penalty attempt from inside the Wests Tigers’ quarter after the ball hit the upright and fell into the arms of Moltzen.
Wests Tigers got a penalty in the next set before the set finished when Duggan was trapped in-goal from a Farah grubber kick. Flanagan entered the field in the 61st minute.
The pressure on Canberra told in the 65th minute when a pass from Marshall to Chris Lawrence saw the centre score behind the posts. Marshall converted the try to make it 22-22 with 14 minutes remaining.
A trysaving tackle by Duggan saw Lawrence loose the ball just 15 metres out from the tryline after the centre made a break after rising prop Andrew Fifita brushed off four defenders to offload. Wests Tigers have lifted their intensity in all areas.
Farah gave the Wests Tigers the lead for the first time in the 71st minute when he landed a 35 metre field goal off his left foot for a 23-22 scoreline. It has been a long haul back for Wests Tigers who trailed 16-4 after 30 minutes.
Canberra threw plenty at Wests Tigers in the 74th minute before a Campese bomb on the last tackle was defused by Tuqiri.
Wests Tigers received a penalty 25 metres out in front of the posts but instead of electing to go for goal, Marshall elected to take a tap.
The decision paid off when a short pass by Marshall opened up a hole for Liam Fulton to score behind the posts in the 78th minute with a huge smile on his face.
Marshall converted the try to give Wests Tigers a 29-22 scoreline.
From the re-start, Canberra kicked out on the full with Marshall electing to take a penalty goal attempt from half-way. Marshall’s kick didn’t make the distance.
Canberra got the ball back before a kick down the sideline saw Marshall take the ball. He did some fancy footwork before offloading a pass to Moltzen who raced downfield before offloading an inside pass to full-back Beau Ryan.
Ryan raced away for the posts and in scoring, received a shoulder charge from winger Daniel Vidot but still managed to put the ball down to cap off a remarkable comeback.
Marshall converted the try to give Wests Tigers a superb 35-22 victory in front of a crowd of 17, 112. Farah was named man-of-the-match.
The victory also gave coach Tim Sheens his 300th win as a career coach.
In winning, Wests Tigers also retained the 1989 League Legends Cup. The cup is played once a year between the two clubs to commemorate the 1989 Grand Final.
Wests Tigers has now won three of its first four matches this season to be entrenched in the top eight. Wests Tigers play Nth Queensland Cowboys in Townsville next Saturday night.
Earlier, Wests Tigers recorded its second win of the season in the Toyota Cup competition with a 42-34 victory over Canberra Raiders at Canberra Stadium.
Full-back Jake Mullaney reproduced his superb 2009 form in scoring three first half tries in the 6th, 12th and 32nd minutes. The talented goal-kicker also kicked five from eight goals to record a personal tally of 22 points for the game.
Other tryscorers for Wests Tigers were Jake Clarke (14th min), Joel Wisbey (23rd min), Limoni Kamuta (37th min), Ethan Tafili (46th min) and Faleula Finau (59th min).
The win puts Wests Tigers on 4 points, equal with the fifth placed Canberra.