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Tigers strike late to shock Sea Eagles in thriller
The Tigers have scored four tries in the second half to overcome a 20-6 half time deficit and stun the Sea Eagles 30-26 in front of over 12,000 fans at Leichhardt Oval.
The Tigers opened Sunday afternoon's clash with enthusiasm and were quickly rewarded when Elijah Taylor pounced on a Luke Brooks grubber to open the scoring in the 7th minute. Yet, all their energy in attack was later undone when Apisai Koroisau burst through the line out of dummy-half to send Daly Cherry-Evans over in the 12th minute for a simple try. A couple of minutes later Cherry-Evans was at it again, this time denying a certain try to Tigers forward Michael Chee-Kam after the second rower charged towards the line off a nice short ball from fullback James Tedesco. Despite their early possession, the Tigers soon found themselves trailing on the scoreboard when a Tom Trbojevic grubber rebounded off the goalposts and was brilliantly swooped on by Cherry-Evans. The halfback was putting on a masterclass in the first half, sending Akuila Uate over out wide in the 28th minute before the winger showed brute strength five minutes later to get on the outside of Malakai Watene-Zelezniak and dive over for a double. As a result, Manly had weathered the early storm from the Tigers and scored four unanswered tries to lead 20-6 at the break.
The Tigers came out looking no better than they did in the first half yet an intercept pass from Trbojevic saw David Nofoaluma race away before a lovely long ball from Esan Marsters allowed Kevin Naiqama to step through the Manly defence and reduce the deficit to eight. It was a repeat of the first half, with the home side gifted with early field possession courtesy of ill-discipline from the Manly side. Yet, this time, the Tigers would make them pay with Tuimoala Lolohea taking the line on and reaching out to score in the 57th minute. With an unlikely victory suddenly in sight, the Leichhardt faithful suddenly found their voice. However, an error from Tedesco off a spiralling kick-off saw Manly regain ascendancy when Lloyd Perrett crashed over under the posts. It appeared as if, despite their bravery, the Tigers would again slump to a disappointing defeat. Yet, momentum swung again when Perrett came up with a mistake on the first tackle after points, gifting the home side a chance to hit back - and they did. Sauaso Sue threw defenders to the side and barged over in the 61st minute to see Manly head into the final twenty minutes with a slim 26-24 lead. A late error from Brad Parker would see the Tigers given one final chance to steal the victory and Watene-Zelezniak would stun the visitors from the beaches when he strolled over unmarked in the 79th minute to seal a shock 30-26 win.
The Tigers' hopes of avoiding the Wooden Spoon gets no easier next week when they take on the Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the Sea Eagles will look to keep their finals hopes alive when they battle the Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon at ANZ Stadium.
Wests Tigers 30 - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 26
Venue: Leichhardt Oval
Halftime Score: Wests Tigers 6 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 20
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Tuimoala Lolohea
2 points - Daly Cherry-Evans
1 points - James Tedesco
WESTS TIGERS (30)
Tries: Elijah Taylor, Tuimoala Lolohea, Kevin Naiqama, Sauaso Sue, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak
Conversions: Tuimoala Lolohea (5/5)
MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES (26)
Tries: Daly Cherry-Evans (2), Akuila Uate (2), Lloyd Perrett
Conversions: Matthew Wright (3/5)