The Wests Tigers have overcome a massive injury toll to edge out the Canberra Raiders at Campbelltown Stadium this afternoon, 19-18.
The game started on a low, with James Tedesco not even lasting one tackle. He chased through on a notorious Pat Richards kick off, and clashed with Terry Campese in the tackle. Tedesco fell to the ground clutching his knee, with early reports from the Tigers suggesting a fractured kneecap, and at least 10 weeks on the sideline.
The Raiders did well to hang on early, holding out almost five sets on their own line in quick succession, but eventually David Nofoaluma crossed in the corner in the 11th minute to open the Tigers account, after taking a Luke Brooks kick and strolling over in the corner.
The Raiders hit back a few minutes later. Josh Papalii crashed over the top of Luke Brooks in his first touch of the game, before passing wide to Brenko Lee, who crossed in the right corner. Croker added the extras.
Tim Simona also left the field in the first half, concussed after a head clash with Jack Wighton. He failed a concussion test on the sideline, and was unable to take further part in the game.
Deja vu struck in the 25th minute, with Nofoaluma scoring his second in the exact position, before Brenko Lee scored his second in the 27th minute.
The Tigers went to the break leading 18 points to 12.
The Raiders came out strongly in the second half, with the Tigers forced to defend set after set on their own line. Nofoaluma left the field early in the half with an injured knee, and the resulting reshuffle left the Tigers with a backline full of forwards.
Their defence cracked in the 50th minute, as Croker beat some slower men out wide to score, before converting his own try.
With just ten minutes left in the game, and the score still tied up at 18 all, Braith Anata took matters into his own hands, kicking a field goal from left of the posts.
The Raiders fought valiantly until the end, including some enterprising play down the right edge which almost resulted in a try, but in the end the Tigers simply wanted the win more.