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The Wests Tigers have beaten the Bulldogs 20-14 in one of the upsets of year.
Coming into the match the Tigers hadn't reached double figures since round five. Not surprisingly they came in to the match with little hope of winning let alone getting close to the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs day started off badly with mistakes giving the Tigers plenty of possession. The trend was to continue throughout the match and ultimately be the Bulldogs downfall.
The Tigers finally made the Bulldogs pay for their mistakes in the 15th minute when Mark O'Neill ran off a Ben Galea pass to score. A penalty goal moments later saw the Tigers go out to an early 8-0 lead.
The Bulldogs then found some luck to steal an undeserved lead at halftime. First Nigel Vagana intercepted a pass to score. Then Braith Anasta took an intercept of his own and got a pass away to Vagana who scored his second try of the night.
Both tries opened up the second half with a penalty goal each and Terry Hill scored for the Tigers to level the match at the hour mark.
The Tigers took the lead and in the end the win when they got some luck of their own. O'Halloran picked up a loose ball and ran nearly the length of the field to score.
The Bulldogs had plenty of chances in the dying minutes but failed to score. It summed up their night as they were the ones, not the Tigers that looked dull on attack. Their kicking game was pitiful and one wondered at times if the Bulldogs outside backs were even playing.
The win means the Tigers have avoided a club record for consecutive losses and for the Bulldogs it means their season continues to lie on unstable ground.
Saturday 31 May 2003 Sydney Showground Referee: S Clark
League Unlimited's Player of the Year Points: 3 - T Hill (Tigers) 2 - L Withers (Tigers) 1 - C Pearson (Tigers)
Scorers: BULLDOGS 14 Tries: Vagana x2 Goals: El Masri 3/3 TIGERS 20 Tries: O'Neill, Hill, O'Halloran Goals: Covell 4/5
By the clock: 0 min: Kickoff! Anasta goes into lock and Thurston comes into the starting side at five eighth for the Bulldogs while the Tigers side stays as named.
5th min: NEWS - The Tigers look enthusiastic early on and have had a few chances.
10th min: NEWS - The Bulldogs are making a few mistakes and putting the Tigers in very good field position. The Tigers just seem to lack creativity on attack.
15th min: TRY - Tigers. Ben Galea put a ball onto the chest of Mark O'Neill who hit the gap and scored. Covell is successful with the conversion - Tigers 6-0.
20th min: NEWS - The Tigers are starting to click on attack. Withers made a great break that lead to Laffranchi being held up in goal. The Bulldogs would have to worry about giving away cheap turnovers.
22nd min: PENALTY GOAL - Tigers. Steve Price and Adam Perry were penalised for holding down in the tackle. The Tigers opted for a shot at goal and Luke Covell slotted the two points - Tigers 8-0.
26th min: TRY - Bulldogs. Tigers forward Steve Trindall passed a ball that fround the hands of the Bulldogs Nigel Vagana who sprinted 50 metres to score a try against the run of play. El Masri converts - Tigers 8-6.
30th min: NEWS - The Bulldogs look to be back into the match after that try but are still plagued by poor handling.
34th min: NO TRY RULING - Mick Stone back from a lay off has made another shocker. The replay showed that as Mark O'Neill went to score Andrew Ryan stripped the ball with two men in the tackle. Should've been a penalty try or at least a penalty to the Tigers.
37th min: TRY - Braith Anasta intercepted a Tigers pass and got the ball away to Nigel Vagana who ran 70 metres to score his second try of the night. El Masri converts - Bulldogs 12-8.
Halftime: The Bulldogs take a very lucky lead into the break. They've had poor handling and a poor completion rate but have scored two tries through intercepts. The Tigers would be happy with their performance but would've liked to have put on more points for the amount of chances they had.
Halftime statistics: The Bulldogs have completed 10 of 18 sets compared to the Tigers who have completed 16 of 23 sets. The Bulldogs have made 159 tackles, 16 missed tackles and 72 hitups. The Tigers have made 118 tackles, 8 missed tackles and 101 hitups. The Bulldogs have made 10 handling error compared to the Tigers who have made 7. Andrew Ryan has made the most tackles for the Bulldogs with 17 and Steve Price has made the most hitups with 14. For the Tigers Ben Galea has made the most tackles with 16 and John Skandalis has made the most hitups with 13.
41st min: The second half is underway!
46th min: PENALTY GOAL - The Tigers were penalised for holding down in the tackle and El Masri slotted the two points. That is also El Masri's 250th goal in first grade - Bulldogs 14-8.
50th min: PENALTY GOAL - Dennis Scott was penalised for being inside the ten and Covell took the two points - Bulldogs 14-10.
56th min: TRY - Tigers. Matt Utai dropped a high ball and Terry Hill picked it up, ran across field and scored. The video ref was called upon as Skandalis put a high shot on Utai after he dropped the ball. In the end the try was given much to the crowds dislike and Covell was unsuccessful with the conversion - 14 all.
60th min: NEWS - Both teams have really lifted the tempo as the game goes into the last quarter.
63rd min: TRY - Tigers. A terrible pass from the Bulldogs found the Tigers O'Halloran who sprinted 80 metres to put the Tigers back into the lead. Covell converts - Tigers 20-14.
68th min: NEWS - Brent Sherwin has been put on the bench by Bulldogs coach Steve Folks.
71st min: NEWS - The Bulldogs are starting to shoot themselves in the foot making mistakes in their own half and giving the Tigers opportunites to rap up the game.
74th min: NEWS - Matt Utai made an amazing run, shades of the Roosters game but this time he was held up. The Bulldogs are now pushing to tie up the game.
77th min: NEWS - The Bulldogs look set to lose this one. They failed to score after 3 repeat sets on the Tigers line.
Fulltime: The Tigers have pulled of a huge upset. They've controlled most of the game. The Bulldogs just haven't been able to hold on to the football which ultimately was their downfall.
Fulltime statistics: The Bulldogs completed 23 of 41 sets compared to the Tigers who completed 35 of 47 sets. The Bulldogs made 315 tackles, 26 missed tackles and 158 hitups. The Tigers made 276 tackles, 22 missed tackles and 196 hitups. The Bulldogs made 18 handling error compared to the Tigers who made 15. Andrew Ryan made the most tackles for the Bulldogs with 35 and Steve Price made the most hitups with 25. For the Tigers Corey Pearson made the most tackles with 31 and John Skandalis and Corey Pearson made the most hitups with 21 each.