Tigers keep finals hopes alive in Canberra

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Match Review.
A massive game for the boys from Western Sydney as they traveled down the Hume to take on the Canberra Raiders in a must win match for the Tigers. With a top 8 spot on the line for the Tigers and an absolute horrid past few years for them against the Raiders, it was going to take one hell of a performance for the Tigers to keep their finals hopes alive.
The Tigers relied on a good start and a big first half if they were going to be a chance of winning this game, and that’s exactly what they got. A early penalty got the Tigers in fantastic attacking position, and off an attacking set they were able to force another penalty to really put the early pressure on Canberra. A quick tap by Kevin Naiqama was shut down by Joseph Leilua, however the refs deemed him offside which saw Leilua end up in the sin bin for 10 minutes due to a professional foul. Malakai Wetene-Zelezniak opened up the scoring in the game when the Tigers took on the short side of the Raiders and an overlap caused by the man down saw Benji Marshall send his winger over.
Off the kick off the Tigers were able to force themselves downfield with ease, and the lack of middle defence by the Raiders quickly saw them concede a second try. New recruit fullback Moses Mbye cut back through the middle of a hit up, received the short ball and went storming off down field thanks to a killer fend produced by the classy fullback. With support coming down his right side, he threw the big dummy forcing Nick Cotric to fall for it and the Tigers fullback going over under the posts.
With Joseph Leilua still in the bin, the Tigers were taking full advantage of the man down. An error allowed the Tigers to go on the attack once more, and with the Raiders defence short on the right side, the Tigers were able to go over again when Luke Brooks took on the line a hit his second rower in Michael Chee-Kam with a short ball to go over for a quick 16-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes.
Canberra were able to strike back just before the half hour mark using the brute force the Tigers have been known to struggle with. A ball out wide on an attacking set gave Raiders young gun Joseph Tapine a one on one which he took advantage of, storming over to give the Raiders their opening try of the game.
The Tigers were able to make up for the try only a few minutes later when once again the Raiders disciplinary issues gave the Tigers brilliant attacking position. A set play down the right side saw fullback Moses Mbye produce a beautiful cut out ball to winger David Nofoaluma who was able to touch down over in the right corner and give his side the 16 point lead again.
16 points didn’t hold out for long but, when a penalty on the fifth tackle invited Canberra into the Tigers 20 metre line with only a few minutes remaining in the half. Once against the Raiders used the size advantage they had, and Josh Papalii was able to storm over next to the posts to cut the lead to 10 going into the sheds.
An early penalty goal for the Tigers in the opening 5 minutes of the second half was able to secure a 12 point lead which showed to be critical come the games end. However despite the early 2 pointer, it was the Raiders who dominated the second half. 
With the first 20 minutes of the second half showing to be quite the tug of war, it was ever so slowly building momentum for the Canberra Raiders, and in the 59th minute, it was Joseph Leilua who went over after storming through three defenders to crack the Tigers defensive line open and set us up for an exciting final 20. The Raiders were only getting started but. 
The missed conversion by Sam Williams gave the Tigers that 8 point buffed, however only 5 minutes later, Joseph Tapine went over for his second try after once against an attacking set to the right saw the big boy use his size advantage to push his way over to score the try. Despite the serious amount of pressure built by Canberra in final 15 minutes, and the countless amount of opportunities given, the Tigers defence stood strong and desperate to hang on to a finals chance. The guts of the Tigers outweighed the determined Raiders side, and the away team was able to push out a desperate 22-20 win and keep themselves alive in 2018.
Canberra Raiders:
29’ Joseph Tapine (Try)
38’ Josh Papalii (Try)
39’ Sam Williams (Conversion)
59’ Joseph Leilua (Try)
64’ Joseph Tapine (Try)
65’ Sam Williams (Conversion)
Wests Tigers:
11’ Malakai Wetene-Zelezniak (Try)
13’ Moses Mbye (Try)
14’ Esan Marsters (Conversion)
17’ Michael Chee-Kam (Try)
18’ Esan Marsters (Conversion)
33’ David Nofoaluma (Try)
44’ Esan Marsters (Penalty Goal)


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