Wests Tigers recorded a gutsy come from behind victory to beat premiers St George Illawarra Dragons 16-14 at the Sydney Football Stadium tonight.
The win was Wests Tigers' fourth consecutive victory and moves the team into seventh place on the Telstra Premiership for the time being.
It was the second straight week Wests Tigers have come from behind to record victory against quality sides Manly and St George-Illawarra.
The match also marked 150th game in the NRL for prop Bryce Gibbs and full-back Wade McKinnon and the 100th Wests Tigers game for prop Keith Galloway.
The opening minutes saw both sides start with plenty of intensity. Emotions overflowed when Benji Marshall was dumped by second-rower Beau Scott after offloading, resulting in a fight.
Marshall failed to convert a penalty goal from 20 metres out in the fourth minute.
Two minutes later, centre Chris Lawrence had the ball knocked out of his grasp as he attempted to score in the left corner.
Wests Tigers continued to muscle up in defence and had some good attacking raids but to no prevail midway through the opening half.
A good tryscoring opportunity went begging in the 28th minute when full-back Tim Moltzen had centre Blake Ayshford and winger Matt Utai in support but lost the ball close to the line.
Moltzen forced the ball dead in the 37th minute when an attacking raid down the left flank by Dragons centre Matt Cooper saw winger Brett Morris put a chip kick over the top for Moltzen to knock it over the dead ball line, forcing a goal line drop out.
Wests Tigers were penalised in the ensuring set when Todd Payten was caught lifting Trent Merrin in a tackle. Five-eighth Jamie Soward converted from 30 metres out to give the Dragons a 2-0 lead after 39 minutes and into half-time.
A Soward bomb in the 47th minute was spilt by Moltzen and into the arms of Dean Young who offloaded to full-back Darius Boyd to score near the posts. Soward converted the try for an 8-0 lead.
Wests Tigers took advantage of a fumble in-goal by Morris when in the ensuring set from a drop out, a crossfield bomb by Robbie Farah saw second-rower Liam Fulton catch the ball to score next to the posts. Marshall converted the try for an 8-6 scoreline with 17 minutes remaining.
Three minutes later, Marshall scored under the posts from a 65 metre break that saw the ball travel through the hands of Marshall, Lawrence and winger Beau Ryan who then sent Marshall on a 25 metre run to score for a 10-8 lead. Marshall converted the try to give Wests Tigers a 12-8 lead.
A cut out pass by Boyd saw Morris dive over in the left corner to score in the 71st minute to level the scores at 12-12
With Soward off the field through injury, captain Ben Hornby converted the try from the sideline to give the Dragons a 14-12 lead after 73 minutes.
Wests Tigers regained the lead in the 75th minute when Marshall gave a cut out pass for Lawrence to race 25 metres down the left flank before giving an inside pass to Ryan to race away to score near the posts for a 16-14 lead.
Marshall failed to convert the conversion attempt with 4 minutes remaining.
The Dragons then got three consecutive scrums inside the final two minutes and in between tempers flaring from a loose ball kicked dead to a scrum almost erupting, Wests Tigers dug deep down to the final seconds to record one of their gutsiest wins of the season.
By Wayne Cousins
5/08/2011 9:37:37 PM
MATCH REPORT BROUGHT TO YOU BY BPS AUTOBODY (BANKSTOWN AND NARELLAN)