Dolphins cage up Tigers to finish Magic Round

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Wests Tigers v Dolphins

The Dolphins have run out 24-12 winners over Wests Tigers in the eighth and final match of Magic Round for 2024 on Sunday night at Suncorp Stadium.

It was tipped as the clash of apprentice and master of the coaches, with Benji Marshall tacking on his mentor, Wayne Bennett. And what better way to end a great round of footy? But with Wests in poor form and Dolphins riding a high, it was always going to be tough for the Tigers at Suncorp.

The Tigers applied pressure early, after a Jack Bostock error under the high ball gave the Tigers some good field position. But with their paws all over the ball, some undisciplined play in the ruck saw their good work come unstuck. In the next play, the Dolphins took advantage and turned their good field position into points, with Bostock going over in the left corner in the 12th minute.

The return to play saw more attack from the Tigers, but they kept coming up short, with their errors releasing any pressure they were putting on the Dolphins. The Dolphins were able to turn the Tiger's errors into better possibilities on the field and made the most of it when Jeremy Marshall-King lined up Mark Nicolas in broken play to go over for a try in the 28th minute.

The Tigers again continued to apply pressure on the Dolphins after the return to play. Through some scrappy play, Justin Olam found the ball in his hands and space between him and the try line. And with the conversion, the Tigers were back in the game just before halftime. 

But they were to suffer a blow after a brain explosion from Brett Naden. With only a minute to go before halftime, Bostock jumps on a loose ball, only to be cleaned up by Naden and cop a swinging arm. The Bunker didn't like it, and Chris Butler concurred, giving Naden 10 minutes in the bin for his trouble, as both teams ran back into the sheds. 

For Wests, Jayden Sullivan's consistent kicking allowed the Tigers to stay in the game. And the Dolphin's back-rower, Euan Aitkens, bullocking runs up the left edge that was standing out for them.

On paper, the Tigers were looking the better team, with high completion rates, fewer penalties conceded and missing only 10 tackles to the Dolphins' 23. There was clearly hope for the Tigers and room for improvement for the Dolphins.

Only four minutes into the second half Justin Olam gets sent to the bin for ten for dangerous contact on Jamayne Isaako. This put the Tigers to 11 men, and in the 48th minute, the Hammer went over after jumping on a loose ball at the Dolphin's 30m line.

But with only 12 on the field, the hungry Tigers managed to get over after Jayden Sullivan gave a late offload to Api Koroisau, who found the Dolphins sleeping at the line and went over.

At 12-18 and with about 25 minutes of play, it looked like we were in for a nail-biter. But the momentum started to go in the favour of the Dolphins. Even though there were consistent breakdowns in the Dolphin's attack 10 minutes before the end of the Connelly Lemuelu found some space, and then an ever-present Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow in support to give the returning fullback a double.

The Tigers had a few more moments to try something, but the clock beat them and gave the Dolphins yet another win, even if it wasn't emphatic.

Jayden Sullivan gave another sound performance, keeping the Tigers in it with his end-of-set kicks. Api was causing some trouble in the middle, but the team was failing to capitalise on their offload advantage with no one in support. Jahream Bula had a quiet game by his standards, and on a night when his team was ahead in pressure plays, he seemed absent.

Euan Aitken was the star up the left edge, while Herbie Farnworth had a game of mistakes, dropping a number of chances that came his way. In fact, the ball found the sideline on the left for just as many attacks that came off down that side. Jeremy Marshall-King was solid in the middle, while Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow came into his own in the second half.

The stats will show that the Dolphins had a shocker in defence, missing 44 tackles to Wests' 18 and even committing twice as many errors as them in the game. If anything, this was a chance gone, begging for the Tigers, who couldn't capitalise on the errors or nerves of the opposition. While Wayne Bennett will be asking more from his team if they are going to be a threat to outfits such as Cronulla, Roosters, Storm and Penrith.

Wests Tigers 12 - Dolphins 24

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Milton / Yuggera-Turrbal
Crowd: 47517
Halftime Score: Wests Tigers 6 Dolphins 12 Players of the Match:
3 points - Euan Aitken
2 points - Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
1 points - Apisai Koroisau

Tries: Justin Olam, Apisai Koroisau
Field Goals:
Two Point Field Goals:
Conversions: Apisai Koroisau (2/2)
Penalty Goals:

Tries: Jack Bostock, Mark Nicholls, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (2)
Field Goals:
Two Point Field Goals:
Conversions: Jamayne Isaako (4/4)
Penalty Goals:

See how it happened in our Match Centre