Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
A masterful 70-minute display from Benji Marshall has powered the Wests Tigers right back into finals contention with a 46-4 win over the Newcastle Knights on Saturday night.
Marshall had the ball on a string, setting up four tries and remains unsigned for next season but that may soon change.
The Tigers have the Dragons and Sharks to come in the next two weeks and sit just one point shy of the eighth-placed Broncos, who have tough games with the Eels and Bulldogs to come.
After a dramatic week where coach Nathan Brown parted ways with the club, the Knights' defeat comes just a week after they seemingly reignited their seesawing season with a 42-6 win over the Cowboys.
The Tigers, meanwhile, had been thumped 32-12 by the Sea Eagles. With the lowly Titans and faltering Panthers to come, Newcastle were considered a serious chance of sneaking into the top eight.
Instead, seven errors and 23 missed tackles in the first half proved their downfall as they were out-enthused by a Tigers side playing to keep both their and Robbie Farah's season alive.
Wests and Newcastle entered Saturday's game with a 15 and -64 for-and-against respectively but the blowout score line now sees the Tigers head into next round with a superior points differential.
Luke Brooks and Marshall combined for their best performances of the year, with six try-assists between them while their kicking game was precise.
Brown's men may have been left wondering what could have been after a missed opportunity in the opening minutes of the game.
Bradman Best, making his long-awaited debut, was first to a Mitchell Pearce kick but couldn't pick the bouncing ball up.
It all went downhill from there, Ryan Matterson scoring off the next set as the bounce of the ball went in the Tigers' favour again.
In what some may consider a controversial decision, Robert Jennings was then awarded a try despite replays suggesting Esan Marsters may have denied Kalyn Ponga a fair opportunity at catching a bomb.
Wests pushed further ahead with two quick tries, the first seeing Corey Thompson straighten up and offload for Marsters to score before Luke Brooks played it perfectly as Luke Garner ran through to go over minutes later.
Garner ran another strong line off Brooks to steam through and set up their fifth of the night as Marshall hit David Nofoaluma on the chest with a pinpoint kick.
Marshall then linked with Nofoaluma twice in the second half, both leading to tries for the winger as he nabbed his first career hattrick.
There was a brief 10-minute period of quiet before the ambush continued, Marshall again starring as he deceptively took on the line and sent Michael Chee-Kam crashing over.
Newcastle crossed over late through Aidan Guerra but it meant little, the Tigers running out big winners.
The Knights will likely be playing for pride next week against the Titans while the Tigers battle the Dragons.
Wests Tigers 46 - Newcastle Knights 4
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Halftime Score: Wests Tigers 30 Newcastle Knights 0
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Benji Marshall
2 points - Luke Brooks
1 points - David Nofoaluma
WESTS TIGERS (46)
Tries: Ryan Matterson, Robert Jennings, Esan Marsters, Luke Garner, David Nofoaluma (3), Michael Chee-Kam
Conversions: Paul Momirovski (6/8)
Penalty Goals: Paul Momirovski (1/1)
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (4)
Tries: Aidan Guerra