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Finals Week Three - Grand Final Qualifier Wests Tigers 20 def. St. George Illawarra Dragons 12 Match summary: The Wests Tigers are in the Grand Final. Say it as much as you like, it doesn't seem believeable, but it is happening.
In the battle of the merged entities, the Balmain/Wests combination defeated the St. George/Illawarra combination 20-12. The Tigers led 16-6 at half time.
The Tigers showed their intentions from the outset, with Benji Marshall crossing from a set play after only four minutes. Brett Hodgson missed the conversion and the Tigers were up 4-0. After 22 minutes Man of the Match Dene Halatau scored his first try, a powerful effort scored near the posts. Five minutes following this the Dragons scored a trademark long range try to Wes Naiqama, and the game was in the balance at 10-6. Not long before half time, the Tigers added some Globetrotter plays to their highlights reel, and Heighington scored. Hodgson converted for a 16-6 half time lead.
The Dragons started the second half impressively, scoring a 53rd minute try to Trent Barrett. The Tigers responded almost instantly with Halatau's second try and the match winning 20-12 lead. The Dragons finished the match all over the Tigers, but the Fairytale outfit scrambled brilliantly to hold on to a 20-12 win.
Dragons v Tigers match photos: Click here to see the photo gallery for this game
Scorers: ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 12 Tries: Naiqama, Barrett Goals: Ennis (2/2) WESTS TIGERS 20 Tries: Halatau 2, Marshall, Heighington Goals: Hodgson (2/4)
Venue: Aussie Stadium (SFS) Crowd: 41,260 Referee: Tim Mander Half Time: Tigers 16-6.
Tonight these very in form teams clash for the right to play in the 2005 NRL Grand Final.
Huge crowd in tonight.
0 min: Kickoff at Aussie Stadium!
4 min: TRY - Tigers The Tigers run a great play off the scrum base and Benji Marshall scores. Hodgson misses the goal. Tigers 4-0.
9 min: Whatiura takes a grubber kick and relieves pressure on the Tigers by running to nearly half way.
14 min: The Dragons look like a team that has played two games in a month. They are making plenty of rusty looking plays.
18 min: The crowd that was expected to be Saints dominated is very vocal, and there are tonnes of Tigers fans.
19 min: NO TRY - Dragons Hornby puts in a kick, the Dragons chase through, regather and run away, but Mander has blown a penalty for being ahead of the kicker.
21 min: The Tigers are controlling possession very well at this early stage.
22 min: TRY - Tigers Dene Halatau barges across next to the posts. Hodgson converts. Tigers 10-0.
27 min: TRY - Dragons Cooper finds space and offloads to Naiqama who races away and scores out wide. Ennis converts. 26 consecutive goals. 10-6 Tigers.
32 min: The Dragons have finally found their feet, and the Tigers continue the Globetrotters football. Very entertaining.
35 min: TRY - Tigers The Tigers offload for what seems like hours, before Heighington crosses out wide. Hodgson converts. Tigers 16-6.
HALF TIME: The Tigers have totally outplayed a lethargic Dragons team and lead 16-6 at half time.
Pat Richards is off with a suspected broken leg.
Can the Dragons put in another second half fightback and take the Grand Final place on offer?
40 min: The second half kicks off!
The Tigers regather the kickoff too.
46 min: The Dragons are looking a lot more capable in this half.
51 min: The Dragons are really not awake at the moment. A lot of basic errors letting them down.
53 min: TRY - Dragons The Dragons run some smart ball movement and Barrett scores under the posts. Ennis converts. 16-12 Tigers.
55 min: Barrett is penalised in possession for running on after being tackled.
57 min: TRY - Tigers The Tigers expose an overlap on the Dragons and Halatau scores on the left wing. Hodgson misses the kick. 20-12 Tigers.
61 min: Fitzhenry is forced into touch 10 out from the Tigers line.
63 min: The Dragons have had 3 repeat sets.
64 min: Cooper can't hold onto a pass 5 out from the line.
68 min: The Dragons are looking good when they have the ball, but can't hold on. Tigers scrum 35 out from the Dragons line. They lose the ball on tackle one.
70 min: Completions: Dragons 16/31, Tigers 27/38
72 min: Barrett puts in a kick that rebounds, he dives on it and the ball is turned over on the last tackle. The Tigers are looking VERY tired and are just holding on.
73 min: Hornby returns a kick nearly 40 metres. The Tigers players just snatch at him.
75 min: The Tigers come up with the ball when the Tigers look shot down the right wing.
78 min: The Tigers come up with the ball as the Dragons need to throw the ball around.
78 min: CROWD - 41,260
80 min: The Wests Tigers have shocked the competition favourites and they are going to the Grand Final.
The Wests Tigers are going to play in the NRL Grand Final.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - D Halatau (Tigers) 2 - J Skandalis (Tigers) 1 - R Farah (Tigers) -----------------------------------------