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Wests Tigers have got off the mark in 2013, after a convincing 28-18 victory over the Penrith Panthers today in front of 9,715 fans at Campbelltown Stadium.
Both teams were cautious in the opening stages of the contest, looking to get to their kick but making a few errors. Penrith were able to settle down quicker when they ran it on last, Simmons kicking for Sika Manu to latch onto the kick for the try. Walsh converted for a 6-0 start.
The Tigers worked their way into the game with Marshall and Farah threatening with quick passing. It was those two who set up their opening try when a long break resulted in a penalty and from the resulting tap, Marshall waltzed in untouched to level proceedings.
Farah was the provider for the second try, running at a tiring Panthers defense giving a short pass to Ben Murdoch-Masila who popped the ball out for Jacob Miller to cross the stripe. Marshall converted for a 12-6 lead and almost added a field goal in the dying seconds of the half but it went wide.
Compounding the Panthers woes was an injury to Lachlan Coote ruling him of the game. They started the second stanza, with a headless chicken knocking on and conceding penalties waiting for the Tigers to make them pay. Farah went to Woods again with the short ball and it was a brace for the prop. His try extended the lead to twelve (18-6).
Penrith hit back with some quick hands from new recruit Wes Naiqama who sent David Simmons away and the winger squeezed it inside the post to bring the mountain men within six. Luke Walsh slotted the conversion from the sideline.
They couldn't sustain the pressure on the Tigers though, as errors crept back into the contest allowing Benji Marshall to control play, forcing repeat sets. His patience bore results when Farah went to the line again, sending Aaron Woods in for his brace and a 24-12 lead.
Marshall showed a deft touch in the Tigers fifth try, stabbing a kick through that bounced wickedly evading everyone in the road but sat up for Marika Koroibete to plant the ball down. Marshall missed the conversion leaving the scoreline at 28-12 to the home side.
There was a ray of hope for the Panthers on the 72nd minute when Sika Manu scored his third try for his new club after taking a pass, pumping those legs and barging over for a consolation try following Luke Walsh's conversion putting the fulltime score at 28-18 and the Tigers first win of 2013.
It wasn't all roses for the Tigers, as they have injury concerns to Keith Galloway (pectoral muscle) and young half Jacob Miller (ankle). Penrith have their own injury concern with Lachlan Coote ruled out for the next six weeks of the competition.
WESTS TIGERS 28 (Aaron Woods 2, Benji Marshall, Jacob Miller, Marika Koroibete tries; Benji Marshall 4/5 goals) defeated PENRITH PANTHERS 18 (Sika Manu 2, David Simmons tries; Luke Walsh 3/3 goals) at Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Leumeah. Halftime: Tigers 12-6. Crowd: 9,715. Referees: Matt Cecchin and Luke Phillips.