Both the Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys looked to snap a two-match losing streak as they clashed at Campbelltown Stadium.
The West Tigers started in remarkable fashion, as they peppered the Cowboys line, and with the first opportunity, Zane Musgrove crashed over the line, after picking up a pass from Josh Reynolds straight from the ruck for this first NRL try.
Despite the early lead, Kyle Feldt’s kick-off was dropped by Reynolds, and the Cowboys camped deep inside the Tiger’s half, forcing three back-to-back sets.
However, Wests managed to keep Josh McGuire off the floor to force a turnover on the last tackle under the posts.
After showing stern defence, the Tigers walked back up the field and extended their lead with ease.
A set restart on the halfway line, allowed Luke Brooks to run early, leaving the Cowboys line in tatters.
Adam Doueihi ran at the line and helped the ball onto Joey Leilua sho pushed off Scott Drinkwater and crossed the line easily.
Moses Mbye converted both tries for 12-0.
Despite the Tigers ill-discipline in their own half, they were able to keep North Queensland out. This time, David Nofoaluma picked up an interception to quickly turn defence into attack.
They didn’t manage to score from the interception, but a minute later, Moses Mbye made a break down the left-hand edge. He dummied to get past Kyle Feldt, and with only Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to beat, the captain passed inside to Luke Brooks who raced away to score under the posts.
With Valentine Holmes and Michael Morgan both missing for the Cowboys, they were struggling to make any breakthroughs in the defensive line.
With only a quarter of the game gone, North Queensland were already looking very slow compared to the speed of Wests, as they were trapped inside their own 10-metre line.
With 15 minutes to go until the break, the Tigers picked up yet another try, and once again, it was a poor defensive effort from the visitors.
Harry Grant jumped out from dummy-half and popped to Josh Aloiai who walked past Drinkwater to score a fourth Wests try.
A fifth Tigers try followed on the half-hour mark, as the ball was shifted out to Moses Mbye, and the centre spotted Kyle Feldt in no mans’ land and pushed the ball out to Robert Jennings to slide over.
The only problem Wests had after 30 minutes was the injury sustained by Alex Twal just before the try was scored, and also Jennings also picking up a knock in the process of scoring.
The Cowboys were getting close to the Tigers try line, but the strong defence was topped off with a fifth tackle kick snuffed out by Adam Doueihi.
Just a tackle later, David Nofoaluma broke down the middle of the park to put his side back on the front foot.
A fifth tackle kick from Josh Reynolds ricocheted off the legs of Michael Chee-Kam after Esan Marsters completely ignored the ball, and Mbye reacted quickest to dot down for try number six.
With the Tigers already equalling their highest ever score at half-time, they were desperate to stop the Cowboys from crossing.
This time, Gavin Cooper was held up by four Wests players for another turnover.
HALF-TIME: Wests Tigers 34-0 North Queensland Cowboys
North Queensland did start the brighter of the two sides, forcing a goal-line drop-out, and picking up multiple back-to-back sets.
They couldn’t break through easily, but a quick pass down the short side seemed to be enough as Connelly Lemuelu dived over. Unfortunately, the debutant stepped into touch to let the Tigers off the hook.
With just over 15 minutes of the half gone, the Cowboys finally get themselves on the board.
Scott Drinkwater picked off a soft pass from Josh Reynolds and raced 75 metres upfield to score.
A few minutes later, North Queensland were once again over for a try, as Kyle Feldt climbed above Moses Mbye to grab Jake Clifford’s chip to the corner.
The back-to-back tries for the Cowboys had perked them up a bit, and a third swiftly followed.
From a scrum in centrefield, Drinkwater ran across the Tigers defensive line, passed to Esan Marsters, who offloaded to Kyle Feldt who dropped low to the floor and dotted down in the corner despite the effort of Harry Grant to stop the grounding.
Harry Grant was penalised for using his boot to try and stop the try, which connected with the face of Kyle Feldt, so a penalty in front of the posts was converted, despite the missed conversion attempt.
With 20 minutes to go, and the Tigers lead 34-16, but it wasn’t comfortable for the home side.
Things went from bad to worse for the Tigers, as Zane Musgrove left the field.
This left them with just one fit substitute for the remaining 16 minutes.
Despite this, they picked up a penalty after Marsters obstructed Mbye’s kick chase, and Mbye converted the penalty for a 20-point lead.
The 20-point lead looked to be cut even further with just over ten minutes to go, as Ben Hampton crossed after yet another centrefield scrum move. Unfortunately, the winger stepped into touch.
With five minutes of the match remaining, the game was certainly beyond North Queensland.
That didn’t stop them from peppering the Tigers line though, breaking 50 tackles inside the Wests 20-metre line.
Jake Clifford created the fourth Cowboys try in a row, as his chip over the top of the Tigers defensive line was juggled and eventually gathered by Marsters to score.
A hectic end to the game ensued, as Tabuai-Fidow strolled down the left edge, and kicked too early for his inside man, which Luke Brooks cleaned up.
The ball was then stripped out of Brooks’ hands, but David Nofoaluma picked up the loose ball and ran to the 4-metre line.
On the back of the set, the Tigers forced a goal-line drop-out.
With seconds left on the clock, Wests had the ball in hand, through Reynolds who’s dribble kick through was cleaned up by Tabuai-Fidow.
FULL-TIME: Wests Tigers 36-20 North Queensland Cowboys
Doueihi, Nofoaluma, J. Leilua, Mbye, Jennings, Reynolds, Brooks, Aloiai, Grant, Musgrove, Garner, L. Leilua, Twal
Interchanges: Eisenhuth, Mikaele, McIntyre, Chee-Jam
Tries: Musgrove, J. Leilua, Brooks, Aloiai, Jennings, Mbye
Goals: Mbye (6/7)
North Queensland Cowboys
Tabuai-Fidow, Feldt, O’Neill, Marsters, Lemuelu, Drinkwater, Clifford, Molo, Robson, McGuire, Dunn, Hess, Taumalolo
Interchanges: Hampton, Jensen, Hola, Cooper
Tries: Drinkwater, Feldt (2), Marsters
Goals: Feldt (1/3), Clifford (0/1)
Referee: H. Perenara
Touch Judges: K. Badger, M. Noyen
Video Referee: B. Norrie
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)