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The Wests Tigers have kept the Canberra Raiders scoreless in the second half to run out 34-26 victors at Campbelltown Stadium.
In a game which showcased two of the NRL's most attacking teams it was a match destined for plenty of points.
The Tigers Great-Britain recruit Gareth Ellis wasted no time in introducing himself to the NRL with a pair of big hits in the opening exchanges as he went on to produce an excellent debut performance.
Big Taniela Tuiaki opened the scoring with a powerful finish but his opposite number Justin Carney hit back soon-after for the Raiders as he finished off a Terry Campese bust.
Carney grabbed a double just a few minutes later with some good footwork at the line as the Raiders started to play some enterprising football.
In a see-sawing affair in the first half the Tigers scored the next two tries through Robbie Farah and Todd Payten, only for the Raiders to hit back with a pair of their own four-pointers with three minutes until the break.
Canberra took an eight point advatage and all the momentum into the break and would have been confident of coming away with the two points.
The Tigers however ran in three unanswered tries in the second stanza to delight their fans at Campbelltown stadium.
There were question marks over Taniela Tuiaki's second try in the 60th minute as to whether he had been held after being knocked to ground before bouncing back up to crash over the tryline.
Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall played instrumental roles for the Tigers attack while Terry Campese was sensational in the first half. Bronson Harrison was another standout as he put in a terrific performance against his old club.
Match Details Wests Tigers 34 def Canberra Raiders 26 Round 1 - Full Time :: March 18th, 2009 Venue: Campbelltown Stadium Crowd: 17,392 Referee: Jarred Maxwell & Gerard Sutton Half time: Raiders 26-18
Wests Tigers (34)
Tries: Taniela Tuiaki (2), Robbie Farah, Todd Payten, Chris Lawrence, Tim Moltzen
Goals: Benji Marshall (5/6) Canberra Raiders (26)
Tries: Justin Carney (2), Adrian Purtell, David Milne
Goals: Terry Campese (5/5)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match
3 Points: Gareth Ellis (Tigers)
2 Points: Robbie Farah (Tigers)
1 Point: Bronson Harrison (Raiders)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Hello and Welcome to the first instalment of Monday Night Football for 2009 as the Wests Tigers play host to the Canberra Raiders at Campbelltown Stadium.
There have been a few minor changes to both teams.
For the Tigers Robbie Farah pushes back to the bench with lock Dene Halatau moving to hooker. Todd Payten comes off the bench to move into the backrow and has been given the captaincy.
For the Raiders Troy Thompson returns from injury to earn a place on the bench which means Nigel Plum and Brett Kelly drop off the extended bench.
Following these changes the teams will line-up as such:
TIGERS: 1.Tim Moltzen, 2.Taniela Tuiaki, 3.Dean Collis, 4.Chris Lawrence, 5.Beau Ryan, 6.John Morris, 7.Benji Marshall, 8.Bryce Gibbs, 13.Dene Halatau 10.Keith Galloway, 11.Gareth Ellis, 16.Todd Payten (c), 12.Chris Heighington, Interchange: 9. Robbie Farah, 14.Rhys Hanbury, 15.Rocky Trimarchi, , 17.Daine Laurie
RAIDERS: 1.David Milne, 2.Phil Graham, 3.Adrian Purtell, 4.Joel Monaghan, 5.Justin Carney, 6.Terry Campese, 7.Marc Herbert, 8.David Shillington, 9.Glen Buttriss, 10.Josh Miller, 11.Glen Turner, 12.Bronson Harrison, 13.Alan Tongue (capt). Interchange: 14.Stuart Flanagan, 15.Trevor Thurling, 16. Joe Picker, 19. Troy Thompson
1 min: KICKOFF! The Raiders kick-off and the Tigers British recuruit Gareth Ellis gets his first touch.
2 min: Big Hit from Ellis flattens Phil Graham
2 min: PENALTY Canberra. The Raiders have a tap 30m from the Tigers line.
4 min: PENALTY Tigers. The tigers receive their first penalty of the season and have the ball on the raiders 20m line.
5 min: PENALTY Canberra. The tigers give away a penalty for dragging David Milne back into Canberra's in-goal after the referee called held.
9 min: Big hit from Ellis again as he knocks Justin Carney to the ground as he returns the football. The Great Britian International all ready making his presence known in the NRL.
11 min: PENALTY Tigers. Wests receive a penalty and have a tap on Canberra's 30m line.
12 min: TRY Wests Tigers The Tigers shift the ball wide to the left in a sweeping second-man play and Taniela Tuiaki steps inside to burst through some flimsy Raiders defence to score the first try of the game. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. Wests Tigers 6-0
14 min: SCRUM Raiders. Bryce Gibbs loses the ball on his own 30m line and the Raiders have a chance to hit straight back.
15 min: Six-Again Raiders. The Tigers knock the ball down as Canberra attack the line and the Raiders have a repeat set.
16 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Terry Campese slices through the Tigers defence and throws the ball wide to Justin Carney who only has to fall over the try line. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. 6 all
18 min: PENALTY Raiders. Canberra have a tap on halfway after the Tigers concede a penalty.
20 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Justin Carney is in for a double within five minutes. Campese thows a long cutout pass which goes to ground but Carney picks it up on the bounce and shows good footwork to step inside Tuiaki and Moltzen to score. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. Canberra Raiders 12-6
22 min: SCRUM Tigers. Buttriss loses the ball and Wests have a scrum on Canberra's 40m line.
23 min: TRY Wests Tigers The Tigers immediately shift the ball left and Tuiaki makes a bustling run down the wing. Robbie Farah capitalises on some quick play and burrows under a few defenders to level the scores. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. 12 all
26 min: PENALTY Tigers. Daine Laurie brings the ball back off the kickoff with some venom and Canberra are penalised for holding him down too long.
26 min: Big Daine Laurie put through a gap and goes charging down the field before he is dragged down by a desperate Joel Monaghan tackle.
28 min: PENALTY Raiders. Benji Marshall collects a bomb on his line but is penalised for offside after it took a delection off a teammate.
29 min: Campese chips a cross-field kick looking for Joel Monaghan to fly high and the ball just evades him as it's hit dead.
31 min: PENALTY GOAL Canberra Raiders Back-to-back penalties for Canberra following a flop and offside play gives Terry Campese a chance at two points from in front and he makes no mistake. Canberra Raiders 14-12
34 min: TRY Wests Tigers Benji Marshall stabs a clever grubber through Marshall Chalk's legs and Todd Payten shows good athleticism for a big man to pick up the football and dive over the line. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. Wests Tigers 18-14
36 min: PENALTY Raiders. The Tigers are penalised with the ball as Robbie Farah plays the ball incorrectly.
37 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Terry Campese bursts through the line and looks set to score but has the ball cleverly raked out by Tim Moltzen. As the ball sits up in the in-goal Adrian Purtell shows good awareness to run through and dive on the football. The referee refers it upstairs and the try is awarded. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. Canberra Raiders 20-18
40 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Bronson Harrison makes a bust against his old team and offloads to David Milne who shows astonishing acceleration to run around Benji Marshall and streak down field to score. The referee refers it upstairs after Marshall makes a good attempt at holding Milne up but the try is fairly awarded. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. Canberra Raiders 26-18
Half Time: Canberra lead 26-18 After the Tigers looked set to go into half time with a lead Canberra struck with two tries to take an eight point advantage into the break. The offload count is a telling statistic of their ability to keep the ball alive as they have produced 11 offloads to 1.
40 min: KICKOFF! The Tigers restart the second half and Canberra hand over possession with an early mistake.
41 min: Line-Drop Out Canberra. Milne is caught in-goal and the Tigers will get a repeat set.
43 min: SCRUM Canberra. Marshall throws a long cutout ball but it beats everyone as it sails over the sideline.
45 min: SCRUM Canberra. Poor set from the Tigers as Marhsall stabs a hurried last tackle kick out on the full. Canberra with a scrum on the Tigers 40m line.
48 min: Justin Carney makes a half-break as he brings the football back from a good Farah kick.
49 min: PENALTY Tigers. Gareth Ellis carts the ball up and Canverra are penalised for holding him down too long.
50 min: PENALTY Tigers. Canberra penalised for a strip on their line and Farah plays on and nearly scores.
52 min: Six-Again Tigers. The Tigers make a reak down the right and after the ball is knocked down they receive a repeat set.
53 min: Goal-line Dropout Canberra. Joel Monaghan makes a meal of an easy catch in-goal and the ball goes dead.
54 min: TRY Wests Tigers Built-up pressure pays dividends for Wests as quick hands left puts Chris Lawrence over for a very important try. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall unsuccessful. Canberra Raiders 26-22
56 min: PENALTY Tigers. Campese kicks the re-start too long as Beau Ryan collects the ball with one foot in touch to receive a penalty on halfway.
58 min: Goal-line Dropout Canberra. Monaghan is forced to knock a Farah grubber dead and the Tigers have a chance to take the lead.
59 min: Goal-line Dropout Canberra. Tuiaki toes through a grubber for Lawrence and Phil Graham sensationally kicks the ball dead. The Tigers have had all the possession in the last ten minutes.
60 min: TRY Wests Tigers The Tank Taniela Tuiaki makes a devastating run down the left flank to score his second try of the game. Some controversy over the decision as the replay looks to show Tuiaki may have been held. Marshall converts from the sideline to give the Tigers the lead. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. Wests Tigers 28-26
64 min: PENALTY Canberra. Finally the Raiders have some possession as the Tigers are penalised for a strip.
65 min: SCRUM Tigers. The Raiders cough up possession 20m out from the line and the Tigers have a scrum.
66 min: SCRUM Raiders. Benji Marshall kicks another ball out on the full and Canberra have a scrum 35m from the Tigers line.
68 min: Six-Again Canberra. Campese kicks across field for Monaghan and after the ball is knocked down the Raiders get the ball back and have a repeat set.
69 min: Goal-line Dropout Tigers. Tuiaki is trapped in-goal and the Raiders have possession 30m out.
70 min: SCRUM Tigers. Turner can't control a Campese short ball at the line and the Tigers hang on.
71 min: SCRUM Raiders. Farah drives a kick out on Canberra's 10m line.
73 min: TRY Wests Tigers Tim Moltzen somehow ends up with the ball after a Campese chip and streaks 60m downfield as he shows good speed to evade Alan Tongue and score under the posts. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. Wests Tigers 34-26
78 min: Campese launces a towering mid-field bomb and Rhys Hanbury takes it well under pressure to all but seal the win for the Tigers.
79 min: Marc Herbert steps at the line and gives an inside ball to Buttriss who goes agonisingly close as he is held up by some brilliant Tigers defence.
80 min: Justin Carney looks to offload to Campese to score but the ball is ruled forward as the siren goes off in the background.
FULLTIME: Wests Tigers defeated the Canberra Raiders 34-26