A much-rotated Wests Tigers side welcomed a Canberra Raiders side with plenty to prove after being soundly beaten by the Knights last weekend.
With Benji Marshall, Robert Jennings, Luke Garner, Billy Walters, and Oliver Clark pulled out the squad and Corey Thompson still missing for the Tigers, it was clear Michael Maguire was ringing the changes after plenty of up and down performances from his side.
Once again, Wests started the game on the up, winning multiple sets of six early on. The Raiders did well to keep them out early though.
The introduction of Josh Reynolds to the Tigers side was certainly increasing their energy levels, and his tackle on Jordan Rapana forced the ball loose. However, a forward pass from Harry Grant let the Raiders off the hook.
With 15 minutes gone, and no scores between the two sides, David Nofoaluma and Adam Doueihi sped the game up slightly with a line break and a quick-tap penalty.
This allowed Wests to pick up the first try, as at the end of the set, Josh Reynolds kick wasn’t grabbed by Curtis Scott, with the ball falling into the hands of Luke Brooks who raced around the outside of the out of position Scott to score.
After an error from Moses Mbye in the 20th minute, the Raiders camped deep inside the Tigers half, and looked to take the lead themselves.
Tackles from Harry Grant and Josh Reynolds were keeping Canberra out, but with the Raiders tightening the vice, a try was looking imminent for the visitors.
A very committed Tigers side were stopping everything the Raiders were throwing at them and after 10 minutes of constant pressure finally escaped.
Despite the Tigers holding on, five minutes later, the Raiders looked to have finally got on the board.
Nick Cotric climbed highest to grab a high bomb and hit the deck. However, Tommy Talau was underneath his opposite number to keep them to zero.
Despite the low scoring affair in the first half, plenty of big hits, close calls and the errors close to both teams try lines were making the game extremely interesting.
With four minutes to go until the break, there was a call for a penalty try for the Canberra Raiders as Curtis Scott looked to latch onto George Williams kick along the floor before hitting the deck.
His contact with Moses Mbye was not deemed enough to warrant a penalty try and the score remained 4-0.
In the final play before the break, the Tigers seemed to have punished the Raiders for their lack of clinical finishing, thanks to a wonderful swooping move from left to right.
Luke Brooks and Josh Reynolds combined to create space for Adam Doueihi, whos looping pass to David Nofoaluma who dived over in the corner.
However, Jordan Rapana did enough to drag the winger’s feet into touch before the grounding.
HALF-TIME: Wests Tigers 4-0 Canberra Raiders
The Raiders were still looking to score their first points of the game, and were inches from the line on the last tackle, before Jack Wighton’s looping pass missed everyone and flew into touch.
He made up for that poor pass a minute later, as the half-back, ran at the Tigers defence and powered through three tacklers to slam the ball down. Jarrad Croker converted to make it 4-6 with just under half an hour remaining.
In the very next set, Canberra were back on the Tigers line and were keeping the ball alive. However, Talau and Alex Twall wrapped up Josh Hodgson to keep them out.
The pressure had finally tolled on the Tigers, as Rusell Packer was sin-binned for delaying a quick tap penalty.
With a man advantage, George Williams exploited the overlap on the right-hand side, kicking through the line for Nick Cotric to run onto and dive on to score.
The eight-point lead that Raiders had suddenly built up was pulled back to one score when Reynolds was hit late in the tackle.
This allowed Mbye to add the two points, and with 20 minutes to go, make the score 6-12.
With 15 minutes of the game remaining, the Raiders lost Jordan Rapana to a Head Injury Assessment, just as the Tigers were beginning to build some pressure in attack.
That pressure was quickly relieved after Packer connected high with Joseph Tapine. This allowed Croker to attempt a two-pointer and once again the Raiders led by eight.
Tapine was the next to leave the field for a HIA, which left the Raiders with 15 available players.
This didn’t stop them for crossing in the corner through Cotric, but the play was brought back for a forward pass in the build-up.
With time ticking by, Canberra were closing the game out in an impressive fashion, continuing to pin the Tigers inside their own 30-metre line.
That was until an offside penalty pushed the Tigers upfield. Michael Chee-Kam knocked on though, as Wests panicked to get a try.
A successful challenge meant the Tigers were still in the game but after a clear knock-on from Luke Brooks on tackle one, the game was all but over.
FULL-TIME: Wests Tigers 6-14 Canberra Raiders
Doueihi, Nofoaluma, J. Leilua, Mbye, Talau, Reynolds, Brooks, Aloiai, Grant, Musgrove, L. Leilua, Lawrence, Twal
Interchanges: Mikaele, Packer, Chee-Kam, Seyfarth
Goals: Mbye (1/2)
Nicoll-Klokstad, Cotric, Croker, Scott, Rapana, Wighton, Williams, Papalii, Hodgson, Lui, Tapine, Whitehead, Soliola
Interchanges: Simonsson, Havili, Guler, Sutton
Tries: Wighton, Cotric
Goals: Croker (3/3)
Referee: C. Sutton
Touch Judges: B. Sharpe, M. Noyen
Video Referee: B. Scott