WESTS TIGERS BEAT DRAGONS 21-12 IN QUALIFYING FINAL
By Wayne Cousins, ANZ Stadium
9/09/2011 9:37:51 PM
Wests Tigers recorded a hard fought 19-12 win over St George-Illawarra Dragons tonight at ANZ Stadium in the first Telstra Premiership qualifying final.
In front of a crowd of 45, 631, Wests Tigers overcame a 12-6 half-time deficit to record a gutsy win.
Wests Tigers will now host a home regiomal Week two semiffinal at a venue to be confirmed.
Wests Tigers centre Chris Lawrence was replaced by Matt Utai. Andrew Fifita and Wade McKinnon also dropped off the extended bench.
Video referees Russell Smith and Chris Ward were called on in the 4th minute to rule whether Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall dropped the ball in trying to kick it. He regathered the ball after it bounced off Beau Scott before he stepped past full-back Darius Boyd to score next to the posts. The try was awarded.
Marshall converted the try from next to the posts to give Wests Tigers a 6-0 lead.
The Dragons got back to 6-4 when hooker Mitch Rein dived over from dummy half for a soft try in the 17th minute. Five-eighth Jamie Soward converted for a 6-all scoreline. It came on the back of sustained pressure from the Dragons through back-to-back sets.
Soward found a gap to slice past Utai before throwing a one handed pass back inside for winger Jason Nightingale to score in the corner. Soward failed to convert the try for a 10-6 scoreline after 25 minutes.
A loose arm by Wests Tigers prop Aaron Woods caught Dragons half-back and captain Ben Hornby high. Soward converted the penalty goal from 25 metres out to extend the Dragons lead to 12-6.
Soward failed to land a penalty goal in the 37th minute from 20 metres out after referee Matt Cecchin ruled the ball had been stripped in a tackle by Gareth Ellis and Marshall.
Two minutes later, Soward failed to land a 25 metre field goal from in front of the posts after a good chase and pressure by Ellis.
Referee Tony Archer ruled a forward pass from half-back Rob Lui to winger Lote Tuqiri inside the final 20 seconds just 10 metres out from the Dragons line.
Wests Tigers started the second half well when a break down the right flank by centre Blake Ayshford saw winger Beau Ryan put a grubber kick through to force Dragons full-back Darius Boyd to knock it dead to give Wests Tigers a repeat set.
Unfortunately, Wests Tigers dropped the ball a few plays later 10 metres out from the Dragons line.
A beautiful inside ball by Lui put Moltzen through a gap before offloading a floating pass to right centre Ayshford who went for the corner before popping up a pass for winger Beau Ryan to score in the 47th minute for a 12-10 scoreline.
Marshall converted the try from the sideline for a 12-12 scoreline aftter 48 minutes.
Wests Tigers took a 14-12 lead in the 53rd minute when Marshall landed a penalty goal from 20 metres out in front of the posts after the Dragons were penalised for a play the ball infringement.
A beautiful short ball by Lui in drawing in centre Matt Cooper saw Wests Tigers second-rower Chris Heighington score out wide in the 66th minute after Lui had made a tackle break on the play beforehand. Marshall failed to convert the try in the 67th minute to leave Wests Tigers leading 18-12.
Lui had a field goal attempt in the 74th minute but his shot was deflected off a Dragons player.
Marshall then converted a field goal from 10 metres in front in the 77th minute to give Wests Tigers a 19-12 lead.
Marshall then sealed the win a minute later when the Dragons kicked out on the full from a drop out for a 21-12 lead.