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The Wests Tigers have pulled off one of the most memorable comebacks in recent years to defeat the Manly Sea Eagles 26-22 in front of a decent crowd at the Sydney Football Stadium. The Tigers were forced to come back from 20-4 down at the half-time break, thanks to a few quick tries from the Sea Eagles.
It all started well for the Tigers however, a quick set of passing saw Lote Tuqiri score in the fourth minute with his first touch of the ball since September 2002. Captain Benji Marshall failed to convert, and the Tigers failed to capitalise on some major chances (which included a decent size of possession in their favour). The hard hitting defence from both sides also took notice in the first half.
The Sea Eagles took the opportunity with Jamie Lyon taking the head and running the show. A kick to Michael Robertson put Manly in front, and a late pass to Glenn Stewart put them in control. Big George Rose weaved his way over before the break to put the Sea Eagles in cruise control.
An extra penalty goal set the scoreline at 20-4, with the Tigers having a lot of work to do. Half-way through the second half, nothing had changed. Everyone was starting to get sloppy, with mistakes and penalties occuring often.
Young Tiger Tim Moltzen then single-handedly put the Tigers in with a chance, scoring in the 60th minute and setting up a runaway Liam Fulton in the 62nd minute to put his side in control. With the scoreline now at 20-14, the Tigers gave themselves every chance, but a penalty against Chris Heighington (who had conceeded a few during the night) saw the Sea Eagles go up by eight, and saw the Tigers crowd looking shattered.
However, the comeback wasn't over quite yet. A mistake gave the Tigers possession immediately and they made good use of it, with Chris Lawrence running through a massive gap to score in the 73rd. Englishman Gareth Ellis finally scored his first try for the Tigers two minutes later, taking a one-handed grab to send the ball over the line thanks to good work from Lote Tuqiri and Robbie Farah.
The Sea Eagles had several late chances but couldn't convert them into points. A late hit sent the two sides at each other in the final minute, with George Rose sent to the sin bin. The Tigers claimed the victory, completing a miracle comeback.
The Sea Eagles will have men down for their upcoming match against the Eels. Brett Stewart is injured and will have scans in the upcoming days. George Rose, Kieran Foran and Brent Kite are all on report.
The Tigers look to next week's showdown with the first placed Roosters.
Match Details Wests Tigers 26 defeated Manly Sea Eagles 22 National Rugby League - NRL - Round 1 - Monday March 15, 2010 7:00pm Venue: Sydney Football Stadium Referee: Jared Maxwell and Gavin Badger Video Referee: Chris Ward Touch Judges: Gavin Reynolds and Paul Holland Crowd: 0 Halftime: Wests Tigers 4 Manly Sea Eagles 20
WESTS TIGERS (26)
Tries: Liam Fulton, Chris Lawrence, Gareth Ellis, Blake Ayshford, Lote Tuqiri
Conversions: Benji Marshall (3/5)
MANLY SEA EAGLES (22)
Tries: Glenn Stewart, Michael Robertson, George Rose
Conversions: Jamie Lyon (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Jamie Lyon (2/2)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to the Sydney Football Stadium for tonight's match between the Wests Tigers and the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. Tonight has been brewing as the return of Lote Tuqiri, who has not played in the National Rugby League for nearly a decade. He returns tonight against some stern opposition in Manly. Kick-off will be around 7pm.
TOYOTA CUP Under-20's: Manly have kicked their season off with a 20-12 victory over the Wests Tigers. Some of the standouts in the Manly side were backrower Mitchell Jowlett and benchie Ryan Lippiatt.
The late change for Manly will be the omission of David "Wolfman" Williams, who tonight will be replaced by Ben Farrar.
The sides are out, about to get underway.
1 min: We're underway!
4 min: TRY
It hasn't taken long for the new recruit to go over the line. Tuqiri scores and the Tigers are underway. Great movement from the scrum.
Wests Tigers 4-0
7 min: Already two penalties going against Manly early in the match.
7 min: Beau Ryan nearly scores the Tigers second, only to be called back for a forward pass.
10 min: Matai puts a few huge hits on, but quickly gives away a penalty. The count is already going against Manly.
12 min: Tigers doing well in attack and defence.
17 min: Tigers with all the ball so far, but still only holding a 4-0 lead.
25 min: TRY
Another try in the corner tonight, this time through Manly winger Michael Robertson.
Manly Sea Eagles 6-4
25 min: Quite a few hard hits tonight, everybody's going to be hurting tomorrow!
28 min: A few mistakes creeping in from both sides.
30 min: TRY
This error proving costly for Wests as Lyon runs to the line, taking Glenn Stewart over.
Manly Sea Eagles 12-4
30 min: The kicking game of Manly is starting to get to a new level. Nice and accurate. They'll be looking to keep a nice lead at the break.
35 min: TRY
The charge from the 2008 premiers continues. A surge from a penalty enables good field position, with big George Rose stepping his way over the line.
Manly Sea Eagles 18-4
38 min: Manly continuing their Midas touch. Thankfully for Wests, no tries from this set.
39 min: Tigers, through Beau Ryan (again) go close, but so far. Ryan drops the ball in the in-goal from a nice Farah kick.
39 min: Tigers penalised for a late hit on Lyon...looks like he'll get another two before the break.
40 min: PENALTY GOAL
He boots the two, and that's half time.
Manly Sea Eagles 20-4
40 min: We're not far from beginning the second half.
40 min: The second half is underway.
44 min: Tigers running well on the last tackle, great work. Only a desperate Brett Stewart stopped them from scoring.
47 min: Fulton on the ground. The ref has put young Foran on report.
52 min: New Englishman Mark Flanagan makes an early error. Tigers still putting all the pressure on themselves.
55 min: Manly getting rough. A forearm puts Kite on report, joining Foran.
56 min: Farah makes no use of the penalty, with the kick going well away from...everything.
59 min: Kite again! Another high shot!
60 min: TRY
Tim Moltzen deserves the thanks for this try, getting the Tigers back into it a bit.
Manly Sea Eagles 20-10
62 min: TRY
The Tigers aren't dead yet! Moltzen breaks away to send Fulton in, setting up an exciting finish.
Manly Sea Eagles 20-14
65 min: An unpredictable final fifteen minutes awaits, with the result not yet sealed.
67 min: Moltzen in the mix again, saving a potential Manly try.
68 min: Heighington gives away a penalty, Lyon looks set for two. This could costs Wests dearly. He has given away a fair few penalties tonight.
69 min: PENALTY GOAL
The kick goes through and Manly hold the eight point lead.
Manly Sea Eagles 22-14
71 min: ...and suddenly the Tigers have another shot.
73 min: TRY
Marshall puts Fulton into...what seemed to be a massive gap, sending Lawrence in for another important try. The comeback continues! Well deserved.
Manly Sea Eagles 22-20
75 min: TRY
It's only taken him one game to score this year! Ellis scores after a master play. Tuqiri makes a huge break, followed by some fancy footwork from Farah. Ellis picks it up with one hand and scores! The comeback has taken the twist that seemed to be inevitable.
Wests Tigers 26-22
76 min: Manly's night has gone from bad to worse. It looks like Brett Stewart could be going off with an injury. It looks bad, after getting stuck in the turf during his tackle on Tuqiri.
78 min: Now Moors gives away a penalty, here comes Manly!
79 min: It doesn't come off for the Sea Eagles. Seu Seu then manages a strip, only to have knocked it on.
80 min: Well, a biff begins and Rose is off for ten. Barely any time left.
80 min: That'll do me, an amazing finish from the Tigers. Thanks for joining us this evening.