Tigers secure fourth over spirited Sharks

It took them the full 80 minutes to secure victory, but tonight the Wests Tigers managed to cross the threshold and earn fourth position with a tense 30-22 win over Cronulla in front of 16,879 fans at Toyota Stadium.

The old adage "one team dominates general play, the opposition scores" was in play early on, as Cronulla were all over the Tigers in attack, but it was the hosts' defence that let them down as the visitors ran in two early tries to take an 8-0 lead.

Before long, winger John Williams bought the Sharks close and the benefits of his goalkicking availability saw the side just two points behind after 20 minutes. The Tigers' ability to create something out of nothing then saw them push back ahead by 8 points, with Tim Moltzen on the end of a beautiful long-range effort started by Rob Lui and Blake Ayshford.

Some Jeremy Smith brilliance put the Sharks in the box-seat once again nearing halftime, with Stewart Mills the beneficiary on this occasion to close the gap to two until a Lote Tuqiri try before the break maintained the eight point margin in favour of the Tigers.

The Sharks struck quickly after the break, reducing the margin once again and the pattern continued through the rest of the game, the Tigers eventually clearing to 26-18 through some Robbie Farah brilliance. The Sharks made a race of it late in the game with John Williams grabbing his second try, but a Robbie Farah hat-trick effort before fulltime generated the final margin of... you guessed it - 8 points.

The win sets up a tantalising opening to the 2011 Finals Series, with the NRL tonight confirming the Wests Tigers v St George Illawarra Dragons 4th v 5th Qualifying Final will be played at ANZ Stadium at 7:45pm. Cronulla will move on to the 2012 pre-season with their eyes firmly on securing their maiden premiership in their 45th year.

Match Details
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 22 were defeated by Wests Tigers 30
National Rugby League - Round 26 - Saturday September 3, 2011 7:30pm
Venue: Toyota Stadium
Referee: Ben Cummins and Gerard Sutton
Video Referee: Paul Simpkins
Touch Judges: Jeff Younis and Adam Reid
Crowd: 16,879
Halftime: Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 20 Wests Tigers 12

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Robbie Farah (3 Tries)
2 Points - Jeremy Smith (1 Try)
1 Point - Lote Tuqiri (1 Try)

Cronulla Sutherland Sharks (22)
Tries: John Williams (2), Jeremy Smith, Stewart Mills
Conversions: John Williams (3/4)

Wests Tigers (30)
Tries: Robbie Farah (3), Mitch Brown, Tim Moltzen, Lote Tuqiri
Conversions: Benji Marshall (3/6)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Fourth place is decided at the most unlikely of venues tonight - Toyota Stadium. The Tigers will finish either 4th or 6th depending on tonight's result, a win seeing them secure a home final against the Dragons, while a loss will see them with the daunting task of heading to Brisbane in week one.
CHANGES are in - for the home side Cronulla, fullback Issac Gordon is OUT, replaced by Nathan Stapleton. Taulima Tautai drops off the bench, with Ben Pomeroy making the cut.
For the visiting Tigers it's curtains for Beau Ryan and Keith Galloway, both out of tonight's clash with corks. Mitch Brown (wing) and Aaron Woods (prop) are their replacements, the new bench players being Ben Murdoch-Masila and veteran back Wade McKinnon.
1 min: Paul Gallen's 200th game, the teams onto the field and GAME ON! Tigers with first possession.
3 min: TRY
TRY Wests Tigers
Scored by Mitch Brown. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall unsuccessful
Great break down the left from the Tigers. Farah is through and finds Mitch Brown... Tigers are in! Marshall brings the conversion wide and back across, but not enough.
Wests Tigers 4-0
5 min: Bryce Gibbs with an uncharacteristic error. Sharks start a set close to halfway.
7 min: Sharks doing well since they conceded that try, and as I type that... it's a knock on. Field position battle is in favour of Cronulla so far.
8 min: Double blow, Sharks penalised. Jeremy Smith holding on just a bit too long. Tigers with the ball inside Cronulla territory now.
10 min: TRY
TRY Wests Tigers
Scored by Robbie Farah. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall unsuccessful.
Too easy for Robbie! He goes himself and burrows under defenders and the Tigers have an early advantage here.
Wests Tigers 8-0
15 min: Cronulla looking solid with the ball, here they've kept Tim Moltzen in-goal and forced a drop-out. Their downfall so far has been defence.
18 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by John Williams. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful.
John Williams is in out wide for the Sharks and their hard work pays off, Paul Gallen key in setting that one up. Williams converts from out wide...
Wests Tigers 8-6
19 min: A note on the Williams conversion - poor form from Tigers' interchange player Ben Murdoch Masila, running down the sideline to join the team behind the posts, he's run with his interchange official right in front of Williams as he began his run-up. Expect to hear more on that.
21 min: TRY
TRY Wests Tigers
Scored by Tim Moltzen. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful.
Robert Lui out left, they have numbers! He puts Ayshford into space, then Tim Moltzen is in support and it's a superb try to the Dragons-bound fullback. Benji strikes his first successful kick of the night.
Wests Tigers 14-6
26 min: A couple of errors in the last few Tigers sets. They're keeping the Sharks in this with poor handling and a little bit too much exuberance.
29 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by Stewart Mills. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful.
Jeremy Smith shows some of his form from his premiership seasons in recent years with a brilliant break before grubbering ahead. Stewart Mills with the try out wide! Cronulla keeping up with the Tigers at the moment, John Williams nails the conversion attempt.
Wests Tigers 14-12
31 min: Forward pass from Mark Flanagan from the Tigers, this will give the Sharks the ball inside the opposition 40. A try here could see the home side hit the lead for the first time tonight...
33 min: Tuqiri safe under the high ball, he takes it in-goal and that's a 20m restart.
35 min: TRY
TRY Wests Tigers
Scored by Lote Tuqiri. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful.
Lote Tuqiri bursts through, a huge relief for the Tigers as the big winger scores under the posts. Marshall pots the two points easily.
Wests Tigers 20-12
40 min: Cronulla with one last voyage into Tigers' territory in the shadows of halftime, they earn six more tackles with 20 seconds left. They shift left, then straighten up, but Jeremy Smith simply takes the tackle.
HALFTIME a Toyota Stadium, it's a try-a-thon here, six scored in total, four for the Tigers and two Cronulla. The Sharks will remain a threat as long as the Tigers' defence remains relatively weak. While leading by 8, the visitors are not defending like a top four side and may struggle to contain the Sharks if they start throwing the ball around. In their favour though is Cronulla's Halftime-Fulltime record... they have been behind 10 times this year at the break, and lost all 10 of those clashes.
41 min: And we're back underway. Gallen's Sharks with possession to start the second half.
41 min: Penalty Sharks early. Tigers inside the ten.
42 min: Another penalty, this time just as the Sharks looked likely to score out wide. Tigers again inside the 10m...
44 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by Jeremy Smith. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful.
Paul Gallen finds Jeremy Smith with a brilliant pass close to the line and the big second-rower crashes over beside the posts. Top start to the half here for the home side, and Williams' conversion closes the gap to two again.
Wests Tigers 20-18
46 min: Benji grubbers it through the line and it's all good until he's knocked over, but no penalty forthcoming from the referee.
47 min: Tagataese goes off injured as the Sharks lose the ball through Gallen. Oh and now a Sharks player is giving it to the referee in gobfuls and it's a Tigers penalty. Silly stuff.
49 min: Lote Tuqiri is bundled into touch attempting a rampaging run at the left corner.
51 min: Tigers find touch deep in Cronulla territory, earning all 26 players a breather for a short moment.
53 min: An error has the Tigers on the back foot here, Cronulla heavy on the attack.
55 min: Paul Gallen drops the ball in a tackle as the Sharks were hammering the Tigers line. Scrum to Wests.
57 min: INJURY update - Sam Tagataese. Medial ligament problem, grade 1 or 2. Unlikely to return but he wants to get back out there!
60 min: TRY
TRY Wests Tigers
Scored by Robbie Farah. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful.
Robbie Farah burrows over but he looks to be injured. Marshall converts and the margin's 8 again.
Wests Tigers 26-18
63 min: Cronulla once again with an opportunity to apply pressure to the Tigers' line. A try here will keep them in the contest.
68 min: Cronulla getting closer and close but not crossing the line. Time is running out...
73 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by John Williams. Conversion attempt by John Williams unsuccessful.
John Williams with a brilliant run and he scores in the corner... just! He can't convert his second try though. It's four the difference with just over 6 minutes remaining!
Wests Tigers 26-22
75 min: Back to back errors for each side and it's now Sharks with a scrum, 40m out. Tigers must defend well here or risk losing 4th spot...
79 min: TRY
TRY Wests Tigers
Scored by Robbie Farah. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall unsuccessful.
What odds a Robbie Farah hat-trick? He's got it, and in the same method, dummy half duck and slam! The Tigers secure fourth and a home final next week with that one. Marshall misses, the final margin will be eight points.
Wests Tigers 30-22
80 min: A short kickoff goes out into touch - Cronulla rush to form the scrum but the referee doesn't call time off and the siren sounds. Fulltime at Toyota! Tigers win!

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