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Fulltime score: Round 17 Wests Tigers 49 v Manly Sea Eagles 24
Both teams were guilty of allowing defence to take a back seat in the first half as holes were found all over the park. It was try-for-try in the first 30 minutes before the Tigers kicked away with two further tries and a Scott Prince field goal to take a 31-18 lead into the sheds. Prince was on song with his kicking game for this match, setting up a pearler of a try for Benji Marshall in the 20th minute with a pin-point banana kick.
The Sea Eagles were desperate for points as the second half began, but the Tigers rediscovered some defensive steel to keep their opposition out despite repeat sets and penalties keeping the pressure firmly on. A Paul Whatuira try midway through the half pushed the Tigers further ahead before Brett Stewart scored his second try of the night for Manly to give them a glimmer of hope as fulltime was rapidly approaching.
However, there was to be no miracle comeback this time. Two further tries to the Tigers wrapped up a comprehensive victory, and Tim Sheens will undoubtedly be impressed with the way his young side were able to keep going for the entire 80 minutes.
Scott Prince was a stand-out for the home team, with a brilliant kicking game that certainly wouldn't have looked out of place in the Queensland Origin side. He was well complimented by Benji Marshall, who enhanced his reputation with some of his traditional sparkling moves.
The Sea Eagles have now lost consecutive matches for the first time in 2005, and have conceded close to 150 points in the last four weeks to teams all in the bottom half of the competition ladder. While they are certainly suffering from Origin committments and injuries to key players, there are still some worrying signs for the coaching staff to contend with in the weeks ahead.
Scorers: WESTS TIGERS 49 Tries: Marshall 2, Galea, Fulton, Heighington, Farah, Whatuira, Elford Goals: Hodgson 8/8 Field Goals: Prince 1/1 MANLY SEA EAGLES 24 Tries: Harris 2, B Stewart 2 Goals: Witt 4/4
Late change for Manly: Steve Matai in for Terry Hill. The Tigers are as-per-programme.
0 min: Kickoff. We're underway!
1 min: John Skandalis drops the ball cold during the Tigers first set, but Manly let them off the hook by throwing a forward pass.
5 min: The video ref is checking a possible Tigers try ...
5 min: TRY - Tigers Ben Galea opens the scoring tonight after chasing through a Robbie Farah grubber kick. The Tigers have enjoyed the majority of possession to open this match, also helped by forcing a goal-line drop out. Brett Hodgson adds the extras. Tigers 6 Sea Eagles 0
9 min: TRY - Sea Eagles Sam Harris catches a Michael Monaghan chip over the try-line to open Manly's account. The Sea Eagles were helped down to the Tigers end of the field by consecutive penalties as Steve Clark gets his whistle in fine tune. Michael Witt converts two more points. Tigers 6 Sea Eagles 6
15 min: TRY - Sea Eagles Sam Harris gets a second try for the night, set up by a nice offload from Mark Bryant. Looks like we're in for plenty of points tonight. Michael Witt adds the extras from right in front. Tigers 6 Sea Eagles 12
20 min: The video ref is checking another Tigers try ...
20 min: TRY - Tigers A Scott Prince banana kick is brilliantly picked up by Benji Marshall who catches the ball while he was falling over and dots down in the same movement. Brett Hodgson's conversion is successful. Tigers 12 Sea Eagles 12
22 min: ON REPORT - Kane Cleal (Sea Eagles), after a high shot on Liam Fulton.
23 min: TRY - Tigers Robbie Farah makes a great run 25 metres out from the Manly try-line and flicks a nice inside ball to Liam Fulton who scores the try. Another two points from Hodgson. Tigers 18 Sea Eagles 12
29 min: The video ref is now checking a possible Sea Eagles try ...
29 min: TRY - Sea Eagles Brett Stewart dives across from dummy half and is awarded a try, despite big question marks about a double movement. Michael Witt has no worries with the kick from in front. Tigers 18 Sea Eagles 18
32 min: TRY - Tigers Chris Heighington follows a Scott Prince line-break, takes the pass and scores an easy try. Brett Hodgson adds the extras. Tigers 24 Sea Eagles 18
36 min: Video ref again, another possible Tigers try ...
36 min: TRY - Tigers Robbie Farah dives over from dummy-half through some soft Sea Eagles defence to score. Brett Hodgson's conversion is OK. Tigers 30 Sea Eagles 18
40 min: FIELD GOAL - Tigers Scott Prince adds one point to complete a very high-scoring first 40 minutes. Tigers 31 Sea Eagles 18
HALF TIME: Tigers 31 Sea Eagles 18 At the risk of stating the obvious, defence is certainly taking a rest tonight. Both teams are finding plenty of holes and this score could blow out to anything. Manly certainly aren't out of the game, and the Tigers will need to stay switched on in front of a vocal home crowd. Possession: Tigers 57% Sea Eagles 43% Completion: Tigers 19/22 Sea Eagles 12/15 Missed Tackles: Tigers 14 Sea Eagles 12 (Honestly!) Offloads: Tigers 3 Sea Eagles 7
The second half is underway ...
45 min: The Sea Eagles have just had three consecutive sets, but the Tigers defence has held them out. Not surprisingly, both coaches had a lot to say about defence at half-time.
49 min: Some more sustained pressure from the Sea Eagles on the Tigers try-line is well contained. Manly seem to be panicking with their attack as they try to reel in this defecit.
56 min: Still no addition to the half-time score. Both teams have had their chances, but are being let down by sloppy handling more than anything else.
59 min: Michael Witt is penalised for a swinging arm in a tackle which could attract some judiciary attention.
60 min: TRY - Tigers Paul Whatuira scores from a good Dene Halatau offload close to the Manly try-line. Brett Hodgson adds the extras. Tigers 37 Sea Eagles 18
66 min: NO TRY - Sea Eagles Nathan Tutt is held up over the line as Manly continue to try and get themselves back into this match.
67 min: TRY - Sea Eagles Brett Stewart grabs a second try for the night - could a comeback be on the cards?? Michael Witt continues an excellent night for the goalkickers. Tigers 37 Sea Eagles 24
73 min: TRY - Tigers Benji Marshall displays his brilliance again and scores his second for the night. He started the movement by setting up a break for Dean Collis, and followed through in support to score the try. Brett Hodgson kicks another goal. Tigers 43 Sea Eagles 24
78 min: TRY - Tigers Shane Elford adds to the massacre as Benji Marshall gets himself involved again by throwing the final pass. Brett Hodgson takes another two points. Tigers 49 Sea Eagles 24
FULLTIME: Tigers 49 Sea Eagles 24 The Tigers had one final chance to crack the 50-point mark, but a Shane Elford kick only just beat Pat Richards over the dead-ball line. A much-improved second half effort from the Tigers has given them a very convincing win over a disappointing Manly side tonight, who have suffered consecutive defeats for the first time in 2005.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - Scott Prince (Tigers) 2 - Benji Marshall (Tigers) 1 - Liam Fulton (Tigers) -----------------------------------------