The Wests Tigers have been kept tryless in the final forty minutes, but held on for a two-point win over the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium today, finishing 22-20 victors in front of 14,583 fans.
Both sides started solidly but a 10th-minute sin bin for Canberra centre Joey Leilua turned the contest on its head inside the opening twenty minutes, with Wests Tigers taking full advantage of the extra man.
Despite early repeat penalties, the visiting side opted not to take the two and once Leilua had received his marching orders, wasted no time in getting across out wide, using their numerical advantage to the left side where Leilua had been sin binned in order to send Malakai Watene Zelezniak in for the game's opening four-pointer.
Minutes later a neat inside ball from Matt Eisenhuth put fullback Moses Mbye into space and he crossed without too much attention, running some 35 metres to score. The away side continued the on-slaught a few minutes later when Michael Chee Kam took a good short ball in support of Luke Brooks, Chee Kam's try the third for the Tigers while Leilua was off the park.
Holding a 16-0 lead, the Wests Tigers had to steady with Leilua back on the park and with 13-on-13, the Raiders looked ready to strike back. Some pedestrian attack meant they struggled to make any headway until the half-hour mark, when Joseph Tapine got the ball down, albeit in an unconventional style, to open the home side's account.
Their joy was shortlived though - David Nofoaluma scored the Wests Tigers' fourth (and ultimately last) try of the afternoon to push his side out to a 20-4 lead.
Canberra were adamant they wanted to remain in the contest, and as such sent Josh Papali'i steamrolling over in the shadows of halftime, narrowing the deficit to 20-10 at oranges.
The visitors started the half with a 44th minute penalty goal which interestingly enough proved the difference at the end of the game, before conceding two second-half tries from a dominant and inspired Canberra side. Leilua's try on the hour mark saw the margin reduced to eight points, before Tapine's second had the GIO Stadium crowd right behind their team as the margin was just two.
Try as they might for the final fifteen minutes, neither side were able to crack the opposition defence and the Wests Tigers held on to pick up two competition points and move within striking distance of an unlikely top-eight berth, just one win behind the struggling Brisbane Broncos and (game in hand) Cronulla.
Next week the Tigers head home to host the out-of-form Dragons at Leichhardt, while the Raiders are at home to the Roosters.