Wests Tigers Jersey Flegg have continued their late season surge to September with a 24-14 upset win over the top four Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs today at Belmore Sports Ground.
Despite the gap between the two sides on the ladder, Wayne Lambkin’s side made it three wins in a row for the second time this season with a stunning win over the home side — leading from start to finish to keep their hopes at a finals finish alive.
The third straight win puts Wests Tigers back in ninth with another huge away game next week against the third-placed Penrith Panthers before ending the regular season against the Victorian Thunderbolts (12th) and New Zealand Warriors (8th).
Shifting wings to accomodate for the return of Development Player Zac Cini, Liam Scolari made it three tries in as many matches to open the scoring after 10 minutes before Max Burey quickly doubled the visitors’ shock lead moments later.
Isaiah Tass would hit back for the home side to reduce Wests Tigers lead to 8-4, which was shaping as the half-time score before Henry Lealuga-Puhotau crashed over in the final set before the break to restore his side’s two-try lead.
With extremely windy conditions making for tough goal-kicking, Ben Stevanovic landed the first conversion of the day to take the score to 14-4 at half-time.
Desperate to keep their top four hopes in tact, the Bulldogs would be the first to score after half-time as some sharp play on the edge saw Tui Katoa cross, with Alex Seve converting to cut the margin once again to just four points.
Stirring goal-line defence from Wests Tigers kept the hosts from making it back-to-back tries, and they would soon be rewarded for their defensive resilience as Cini continued his good form with his side’s fourth try of the afternoon.
Daniel Sykes would put the result beyond doubt when he crossed for another Wests Tigers with 15 minutes remaining, before Frank Kuresa added a late consolation effort for the Bulldogs to end the game at 24-14.
The win puts Wests Tigers in ninth and just one point behind the eighth-placed Warriors, whom they face in what is shaping as an enthralling final game of the season. The Warriors also face the second-placed Roosters next weekend.
Wests Tigers will look to make it four in a row for the first time this year when they take on Penrith next Sunday at Panthers Stadium from 11:00am AEST.
Wests Tigers 24 (Scolari, Burey, Lealuga-Puhotau, Cini, Sykes tries; Stevanovic 2/5 goals) def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 14 (Tass, Katoa, Kuresa tries; Seve 1/3 goals) at Belmore Sports Ground