The Wests Tigers moved to 7th spot and put space between the top 8 and the chasing pack with a very hard fought golden point victory tonight at Leichardt Oval in front of a huge Monday night crowd of more than 18,000.
The Tigers welcomed back stars Lote Tuqiri, Keith Galloway and Gareth Ellis from injury while the Knights were without instrumental playmaker Jarrod Mullen.
The game began with some decent attack from both sides until 5 minutes into the match Tigers star winger Lote Tuqiri was struck down with a leg injury and played no further part. A cruel blow to the Tigers star who had just spent a lengthy stint on the sidelines with a fractured arm.
The first 15 minutes of the match were quite a grind with both sides bombing several chances and the Knights in particular showing some gritty defense.
The penalty count begun stacking up against Newcastle and at the 18th minute mark the continued pressure told when Robert Lui got between two defenders and showed good strength to burrow over for the first try.
From there the Knights seemed to develop an attacking spring in their step finding space on both flanks and hit back at the 30 minute mark through Neville Costigan, who found himself with nobody in front of him after an out ball in ball play, Beau Henry linking with Sa'u on the outside who found Costigan back inside.
Minutes later Junior Sa'u pulled off a fantastic play to tap back in an innocuous looking kick right under Beau Ryan's nose for McManus to dive on it and get himself a try. At that stage the Knights were looking dangerous but moments before halftime the Tigers found themselves with good field position after some great lead up work by Benji Marshall who found space down the sideline, beating multiple defenders and flirting with the touchline. Moments later the Tigers found themselves close to the line. Fifita bounced away from a defender, found Marshall who in turn linked with debutant Tim Simona who pulled off a flick pass to put Brown over in the corner. The teams went to the sheds at 10 all but the Knights looking the better aside from some ill discipline.
The Tigers came out looking sharp pinning Naiqama in the corner on their first two sets before Wes made a great return to break the field position strangehold the Tigers had the Knights under. The Knights then went on the attack and strolled over through Antonio Kaufusi who shoved Robert Lui out of the way to score, putting the Knights ahead 16-10.
From there the Tigers dominated field position but the Knights defense was immense, turning away the Tigers time and time again. Compounded by multiple errors from the Tigers the Knights were able to stay in the lead right up until the 74th minute when Uate was penalised and placed on report for a lifting tackle on Tim Simona which could find him in hot water with the judiciary on the eve of Origin 2.
The subsequent field position allowed the Tigers to crash over through Liam Fulton when a long Farah pass was knocked down into his arms by a Knights defender. Fulton was able to beat his man one on one to put the Tigers back level at 16 all. The Knights missed a few attempts at field goal as did the Tigers and the full-time siren sounded with the scores level signalling the second golden point game of the round.
The first five minutes were a back and forth affair with the Knights having the better attempts at field goal but missing on multiple occasions. At the 84th minute a long range Benji Marshall field goal was charged down and Tim Moltzen found himself in space, field position and with a full set of six but butchered the chance by forcing a pass.
In the second period the Tigers had first chance with the ball and Marshall found himself in space. He threw a wide pass that found a Knights hand but the Tigers regathered with a full set of six on halfway. From the subsequent set after a good hit up by the tireless Chris Heighington, Robbie Farah was able to knock over a field goal from dummy half to steal a victory.
The game was marred by some ill discipline and injuries with Akuila Uate, Cameron Ciraldo and Dan Tolar placed on report and Lote Tuqiri going off early with a leg injury. Some of the decisions by the referees could be considered very questionable, highlighted by a decision late on the second half to penalise Chris Houston for an alleged shot on Tim Simona off the ball. Replays suggesting that it was in fact Simona that put the shot on Houston.
The Tigers now move into 7th position, going ahead of the Bulldogs on points difference while the Knights remain in 9th position, 2 points back.
Tuqiri will undergo scans tomorrow but Tigers coach Tim Sheens suggested the injury was not serious and he might play against the Warriors next up.
Wests Tigers 17 defeated Newcastle Knights 16
National Rugby League - Round 13 - Monday June 6, 2011 7:00pm
Venue: Leichhardt Oval
Referee: Jared Maxwell and Steve Lyons
Video Referee: Paul Mellor
Touch Judges: David Abood and Adam Gee
Halftime: Wests Tigers 10 Newcastle Knights 10
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Blake Ayshford
2 Points - Chris Heighington
1 Point - Neville Costigan (1 Try)
WESTS TIGERS (17)
Tries: Liam Fulton, Mitch Brown, Robert Lui
Field Goals: Robbie Farah (1/1)
Conversions: Benji Marshall (2/3)
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (16)
Tries: James McManus, Neville Costigan, Antonio Kaufusi
Conversions: Kurt Gidley (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Changes: For Wests Tigers Wade McKinnon fails fitness test and is ruled out. Tim Moltzen moves from centre to fullback and Under 20's centre Tim Simona comes into starting lineup to make first grade debut. No other changes for either team.
Toyota Cup: Full time and Newcastle snap the Tigers impressive winning streak with a 26 points to 18 victory.
It's a cold dewy evening at Leichardt Oval tonight for this clash between 8th and 9th on the NRL ladder. The winner will be in the Top 8 with a 2 point buffer and the loser, well they'll have the opposite problem. Newcastle have been hit by injuries, most notably Jarrod Mullen while the Tigers have injured players returning in the form of Lote Tuqiri, Keith Galloway and the Englishman Gareth Ellis. A very important game for both sides. Kick off shortly.
3 min: A bomb from Beau Henry lands in open space only to take a sideways bounce and tumble over the sideline. Even contest in the opening exchanges.
4 min: A difficult grubber is grabbed on the tryline by Wes Naiqama. Tigers looking sharp. Newcastle working it out from their own end. Last tackle on their own 20 metre line.
5 min: Tigers shift it wide from inside their own half but the last pass is called forward. Lote Tuqiri left on the ground in backplay with what looks like a knee injury.
5 min: Not good news for the Tigers with Lote Tuqiri leaving the field on a stretcher 5 minutes into the match.
5 min: Tuqiri leaves the field without the assistance of the stretcher after all but still not good news. Beau Ryan enters the game.
6 min: Newcastle straight on the attack from the scrum win and receive a penalty 30 out from nearly in front. They kick for touch.
7 min: A terrible pass right on the line from Matt Hilder is knocked on by Neville Costigan and pressure is released. Tigers scrum 10 out from their own line.
7 min: Ayshford makes a break from the scrum and takes it down to the 40 metre line. Tigers receive a penalty a few moments later but Dwyer drops the ball from the restart.
9 min: Matt Hilder with a terrible kick with nothing on. Moltzen takes it easily and the Tigers work their way out of their own end.
9 min: Farah goes for a 40/20 but the kick isn't deep enough. Newcastle scrum 20 metres out.
10 min: Injury report on Lote Tuqiri suggests ankle AND knee problems. Scans tomorrow. He won't return tonight.
11 min: Marshall gets in space down the left hand side and puts a kick through. Uate cleans up and is tackled close to his own line. Good football there.
14 min: Marshall puts Simona in space but Uate strips the ball and takes it downfield. Great play from Uate.
14 min: Moltzen with a try saver on Joel Edwards. The Tigers then shut down Beau Henry on the last. Good set from the Knights.
15 min: Tigers coming out of their own end receive a penalty late in the count.
15 min: Tigers put the ball down in good field position. Gareth Ellis forces a late ball to Tim Simona but the pressure is too much and he puts it down.
18 min: Wests receive yet another penalty in their own half. Knights shooting themselves in the foot. Other than penalties the Knights might have the edge here so far.
18 min: TRY
Galloway pops an offload to Robbie Farah who links with Robert Lui. Lui spots half a gap, gets between two defenders and burrows over close to the posts. Strong effort from Lui there. Marshall converts and the Tigers play from in front.
Wests Tigers 6-0
22 min: Game moving back and forth between the ends. A Marshall kick finds touch and the Knights will work it back upfield from a scrum.
27 min: The Knights sweep it back and forth over multiple tackles. A good attack develops but a pass from Kaufasi floats forward and the Tigers survive.
28 min: Simona with another mistake puts it down backwards and the Knights dive on the ball.
30 min: TRY
Newcastle have looked very dangerous down the left edge and points have come. Henry attacks the line and gets through, pops a ball to Junior Sa'u who links inside with Neville Costigan to score. Gidley converts and we're level.
35 min: Newcastle are clearly out-muscling the Tigers at the moment and it shows. They are winning the field position.
35 min: I'm quite sure that Newcastle have scored an incredible try here. Video ref decision pending.
36 min: TRY
Beau Ryan tries to shepherd a ball over the dead ball line but at the very last moment Junior Sa'u dives for it and taps it backwards a'la Greg Inglis. James McManus dives on the ball and Newcastle have scored another to hit the front in amazing circumstances. Gidleys conversion hits the uprights.
Newcastle Knights 10-6
37 min: Newcastle put it down as they come out of their own end to give the Tigers a chance.
38 min: Benji Marshall with some amazing dancing. Tip-toeing down the sideline. De Gois gets across in cover and is subsequently penalised for slowing the play down. Marshall gets a bit rowdy in the aftermath but De Gois fires up and starts swinging. Benji declines his invitation as Moltzen steps between them.
40 min: TRY
Fifita hits the line and bounces away, he links to the left with Marshall who finds Tim Simona. Simona goes to the line and throws a left handed flick pass out to Mitch Brown who scores in the corner. Great effort by the debutant. Marshall misses from the sideline and we go into half time locked up.
40 min: Half time report suggesting McManus has a niggling injury.
41 min: Great first up set of six from the Tigers pins Naiqama in the corner but the fullback wrestles into the field of play.
43 min: Naiqama with a fantastic 30 metre run downfield gets Newcastle out of their own end.
46 min: Tigers penalised on the 4th for holding down. Knights go on the attack.
48 min: TRY
The Tigers concede a very soft try on the last. Gidley hands it off to Kaufusi who shoves past Robert Lui and puts the ball down.
Newcastle Knights 16-10
50 min: Beau Ryan saves a try after De Gois makes a break and tries to link with James McManus. Beau Ryan gets between them and takes the intercept. The Tigers receive a penalty immediately on the next play agains Ciraldo and Tolar for being a bit too rough on Gibbs.
51 min: Ayshford hits the deck with a leg injury but is looking to play on. More injury woes for the Tigers.
53 min: Tigers with some interesting attack but the Knights defense holds.
56 min: Ayshford finds space down the right edge. Farah forces a line drop out off the next play.
57 min: Penalty to the Tigers 10 out right in front.
56 min: Tigers receive another penalty.
58 min: Aaron Woods drops the ball cold. Terrible effort.
60 min: Farah does well the wrestle the ball away from Matt Hilder. Tigers on halfway.
61 min: Fulton drops the ball backwards to Robert Lui who fumbles it while deep on attack. Knights survive again. Tigers looking desperate.
63 min: Tigers working it out of their own end drop it near halfway. Knights on the attack. Could ice it here one feels.
64 min: Beau Ryan with another intercept stops the raid.
64 min: Aaron Woods loses it cold again. The Tigers ball control is again, terrible.
66 min: Ayshford with a fantastic run puts Tigers on attack.
66 min: A Lui kick on the last forces another set.
68 min: Knights defense is fantastic but Simona puts it into the in-goal to force another set.
69 min: All the pressure comes to nothing after the Tigers put it down and the Knights work it out of their end.
69 min: Beau Henry misses a field goal attempt. His second shot goes wide.
70 min: Marshall passes it to Chris Houston while on the attack. This game looks beyond the Tigers. Great efforts across the park from the Knights.
72 min: Uate is penalised for lifting Simona pass the horizontal and driving him head first into the ground. Very dangerous from Uate and he could be in some judiciary trouble.
74 min: TRY
A long Farah pass is tapped in flight by a desperate Knights hand but it finds Liam Fulton who beats his man one on one and scores next to posts. Marshall converts and we're locked up at Leichardt with 6 minutes to go.
76 min: Chris Houston shoves Tim Simona off the ball and the Tigers receive a penalty. Really odd call and the Knights could be really unlucky here. Simona really looks to have been the one that made the contact.
77 min: The Tigers are set up for a field goal and Farah decides to go the other way. Pity none of the other Tigers were aware of it and Dwyer puts it down. Woeful decision making by the captain.
78 min: Gidley misses a field goal attempt and Ryan brings it downfield with a great run.
79 min: Robbie Farah goes for a 40/20 but it unfortunately bounces on the line on the full. Knights with great field position. Chance to ice it.
79 min: Knights from right in front with field goal set up drop it cold. Gidley puts it down and the Tigers are extremely lucky.
80 min: Marshall with a long range field goal attempt but misses. Uate is forced to bring it out of the in-goal and is put to ground. We head to golden point for the second time this round.
81 min: Knights with first use of the ball in golden point.
82 min: Robert Lui misses a field goal attempt by a very small margin. Just too short.
83 min: Beau Henry has a shot from halfway but misses.
84 min: Benji Marshall field goal is charged down and Moltzen regathers. He makes a break but forces an offload with a full set of six and the Knights get the ball back. Beau Ryan goes for an intercept and knocks it on. Knights with last use of the footy from just inside their own half. Tense stuff.
85 min: First period of golden point is done after Gidley misses a field goal attempt. He struck it pretty well but the accuracy wasn't there.
86 min: This is heart attack inducing stuff.
86 min: Marshall makes a break. Knights get a hand to a pass but the Tigers get it back on halfway with a full set.
86 min: FIELD GOAL
A fantastic run from Chris Heighington and quick play the ball allows Robbie Farah to take a shot at field goal from dummy half and he slots it. Tigers out of jail. Knights played very well and the Tigers had the rub of the green and all the calls.
Wests Tigers 17-16