Tigers scrape home over gutsy Sharks

The Wests Tigers have consolidated a top four spot with an important, yet unconvincing, 24-22 victory over a committed Cronulla Sharks side in front of nearly 15,000 loyal fans at Leichhardt Oval.

The Sharks surprised the home crowd with first points of the evening thanks to Dean Collis who, against his former club, barged through some sliding defence to score in the 12th minute.

But the Tigers snatched the lead just five minutes later when stand-in fullback Mitch Brown pounced on a Robbie Farah grubber. Wests then increased their advantage to 10-4 following a determined surge from Liam Fulton.

Sharks' winger Blake Ferguson got his side back in the contest when he picked up the scraps from a cross field kick. Scott Porter nailed the conversion to level the scores at 10-all.

A stunning solo-try on the stroke of halftime to speedy centre Chris Lawrence gave Wests a 14-10 lead at the change of ends and when Fulton grabbed his double in the 42nd minute, it looked as if the Tigers might have put the final nail in the Sharks' coffin.

However, to Cronulla's credit, they didn't say die. Ferguson was denied when he grounded the ball on the sideline before Collis went one better, pouncing on a loose ball to notch his second four-pointer.

But the Tigers strode ahead again thanks to Lote Tuqiri, the winger found a saloon passage to the line thanks to some long passes. Not to be outdone, the Sharks reduced the defecit to 24-22 in the 70th minute when Nathan Gardner continued the theme of pouncing on a bouncing ball in the ingoal.

The final ten minutes saw no points as the Tigers finished with a slender victory. Cronulla can hold their heads high after a competitive performance against one of the better teams in competiton. Wests, although they won, were far from convincing and need to start hitting their straps with the finals about a month away.

Match Details
Wests Tigers 24 defeated Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 22
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 21 - Saturday July 31, 2010 7:30pm
Venue: Leichhardt Oval
Referee: Jason Robinson and Brett Suttor
Video Referee: Phil Cooley
Touch Judges: Daniel Eastwood and Luke Potter
Crowd: 14942
Halftime: Wests Tigers 14 Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 10

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Liam Fulton (2 Tries)
2 Points - Nathan Gardner (1 Try)
1 Point - Chris Heighington

WESTS TIGERS (24)
Tries: Liam Fulton (2), Mitch Brown, Chris Lawrence, Lote Tuqiri
Conversions: Benji Marshall (1/3), Chris Lawrence (1/2)

CRONULLA SUTHERLAND SHARKS (22)
Tries: Dean Collis (2), Blake Ferguson, Nathan Gardner
Conversions: Scott Porter (3/4)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Tonight we've got the Wests Tigers coming up against the Cronulla Sharks. After going down to Manly last weekend, Wests need a win to ensure they hold on to a top four spot. Cronulla on the other hand are sitting in second last but will be looking to give new coach Shane Flanagan his maiden win in just his second game at the helm.

In the Under 20s, the Tigers snuck home 14-10 thanks to a 78th minute try from Liam Ayoub.

Team Changes
Tigers: Wade McKinnon drops out with injury, Ryan shuffles to fullback, Mitch Brown is on the wing. Flanagan replaces Fifita on the bench.
Sharks: Blake Ferguson comes in for Isaac Gordon on the wing.
1 min: Kick off! Tigers get first use in front of what looks like close to a packed house.
1 min: Wests with some razzle dazzle already, Marshall finds Ryan in space out wide but the defence converges.
3 min: Trent Barrett drops it with the Sharks on the attack, he then concedes a penalty on the next tackle to help the opposition out of their own end.
7 min: Blake Ferguson dives over in the corner but the final pass is correctly ruled forward.
9 min: Benji Marshall attempts to thread the needle with a grubber but it goes straight into the arms of Millington.
11 min: Beau Ryan knocks on from a Scott Porter bomb, Beau thinks he knows best and argues the point with the referee.
12 min: TRY
The Sharks are in! They spread the ball wide and the Tigers defence slides with them before Dean Collis straightens up and barges over against his old club. Porter fails to convert.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 4-0
15 min: Mitch Brown breaks through the line off a kick return, not quite the Hayne train but maybe the Brown bus.
17 min: Video referee - possible Tigers try, it looks like Mitch Brown was held up..
17 min: No Try! Mitch Brown ruled to have been held up, strong defence there from Cronulla but they're still under pressure.
17 min: Video referee - possible Tigers try again..
17 min: TRY
Wests Tigers TRY
Mitch Brown, playing at fullback tonight, is first to pounce on a Robbie Farah grubber under the posts. Marshall converts from right in front.
Wests Tigers 6-4
19 min: Paul Gallen looks to be full of niggle this evening, he's been involved in a few pushes and shoves already.
21 min: The Sharks turn on the razzle dazzle, two kicks eventually find their way out to Blake Ferguson who lunges for the corner. But the touchy's flag is raised, replays confirm he touched the sideline.
24 min: TRY
Wests Tigers TRY
Wests get two sets in a row on the attack and Cronulla finally crack when Liam Fulton busts through some tackles on the fringe. Marshall fails to convert.
Wests Tigers 10-4
27 min: Nathan Gardener is pinned just metres out from his line, Tigers well on top currently.
30 min: Video referee - possible Sharks try..
30 min: TRY
Cronulla Sharks TRY
Well I think I jinxed the Tigers there. A last tackle bomb is contested by Tuqiri and Collis, neither grab the ball but Blake Ferguson collects the scraps and scores. Porter converts.
10 all
32 min: Sharks get another penalty to help them into the Tigers half.
33 min: Cronulla spin it wide but Dean Collis spills the pass under pressure from Lote Tuqiri - I don't blame him.
35 min: Video referee - possible Tigers try..
35 min: Referee's Call.. and Jason Robinson rules that Chris Lawrence was pushed into touch, pretty straight forward decision - he never got close to the try line.
36 min: Mitch Brown makes a meal of a high kick, giving the Sharks a chance just before the break.
40 min: TRY
Wests Tigers TRY
Stunning try on the stroke of halftime from Chris Lawrence! The centre hit a hole out wide before swerving around Gardener at the back - too much speed and acceleration. Marshall fails to convert.
Wests Tigers 14-10
Halftime: A surprisingly close encounter this evening, the Sharks have been resolute in defence so far. Hopefully, for their sake, that Lawrence try doesn't break their spirit too much.
41 min: We're underway in the second half, as Gallen makes a mistake in the first set.
42 min: TRY
Wests Tigers TRY
Liam Fulton bursts on to a short pass from Benji Marshall to crash over, Fulton's really improved his attacking running since last time I saw him play. Chris Lawrence converts.
Wests Tigers 20-10
44 min: Paul Gallen penalised, the Tigers should really put them to the sword here.
46 min: Wests can't make them pay, as Robbie Farah fumbles on the second tackle.
50 min: The Sharks string some offloads together and Collis kicks ahead to earn his side a goal line drop out.
51 min: Video referee - possible Sharks try..
52 min: No Try! Blake Ferguson fielded a cross field kick but couldn't quite get the ball down under the attention of Tuqiri, would have been a spectacular one with Ferguson in mid-air over the sideline as he attempted the put down.
55 min: TRY
Cronulla Sharks TRY
Trent Barrett bombs high, Paul Gallen comes up with a massive swan dive but he misses the ball and it bounces its way to Dean Collis, who grabs his double. Porter converts.
Wests Tigers 20-16
58 min: Beau Ryan drops a ball cold and now the Sharks get another chance on the attack.
59 min: All the pressue is undone though, as Cronulla get in a tangle and get penalised for obstruction.
61 min: Taulima Tautai makes a break from nowhere but Pomeroy fumbles on the next play. They're close the Sharks but can't put the finishing touches on their plays.
64 min: TRY
Wests Tigers TRY
A stunning hold up by Luke Covell on Blake Ayshford proves to be all in vain as, on the next play, the Tigers get it wide to Lote Tuqiri, who has wide open pastures in front of him on the way to the line. Lawrence fails to convert.
Wests Tigers 24-16
68 min: Nathan Gardener steps through from dummy half but is cut down by Mitch Brown.
70 min: Video referee - possible Sharks try..
70 min: TRY
Cronulla Sharks TRY
Yet another cross field kick yields a result for the Sharks! Lote Tuqiri flies high but can't get a catch on the ball, Nathan Gardner scoops it up and scores. Porter converts.
Wests Tigers 24-22
72 min: Trent Barrett goes for a 40/20 but it lands on the line and is out on the full! Centimetres in that one.
73 min: Robbie Farah is in la-la land and doens't pick up the ball at dummy half.
74 min: Ben Pomeroy is penalised for reaching out for the line, bizzare sequence as he was hit late after the ref had called held and propelled towards the line by a Tigers defender.
76 min: Sharks get penalised again and the Tigers attack their line, with the clock winding down.
79 min: Farah grubbers into the ingoal and Ferguson has no option other than to hit it dead.
79 min: Sharks have 90 metres to travel in the final minute..
Fulltime: The Wests Tigers record an important, yet unconvincing, 24-22 win over a gutsy Sharks side.

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