Penrith have put a serious dampener on Wests Tigers season tonight at Leictharte Oval, with a 26-10 victory. A five tries to two win and Penrith remain in the top eight, but the Tigers now have to win nine from thirteen too play finals football.
A clear, serene evening saw ideal conditions prevail, for what should have been a high scoring match between two superb attacking sides.
Instead, the Tigers in particular failed to hold onto the pill in the first half, completing less than fifty percent of their sets.
Added to this, the fact that their error count was twice that of Penrith, they did well to be down only two at the break.
Neither team could gain the ascendancy over the first fifteen minutes. It was not until the 18th minute that Taniela Tuiaki dived over in the left corner to dot down, that the Tigers opened the scoring for the evening.
A 4-0 lead that they held until Paul Aton- a Papa New Guinea international, who joined Penrith this season- scooted out from dummy half to dive over under the horizontal bar, and with the conversion, give Penrith a two point advantage, 6-4.
Penrith would have been disappointed to go into the half time break with a two point lead, as they had fifty-four percent of the possession and had a completion rate of eighty percent, compared to the Tigers fifty percent.
However, it only took them three minutes to add to their halftime score, when Jeff Daniela got his hands on a grubber kick, that was directed into the Tigers in-goal area, to take the score to 10-4 in their favour.
With Frank Pritchard and Trent Waterhouse making gains up the middle of the ruck with expert precision, you could have been excused for thinking that Penrith were getting the better of proceedings.
But the Tigers fired up at the 50th minute with a try to their sole State of Origin representative, Robbie Farrah. The Tigers had broken the Penrith defence with a sortie down the middle of the paddock, then taking the play wide to their right-side attack, where Benji Marshall appeared to have been tackled, but passed off the ground to Farrah who crossed for what they thought was a try. And they were right, once the video ref made a decision after what seemed an eternity. One, two, three looks. He has another look- did you know that the Earth tilts at 23.5 degrees, and that Brangalina are apparently splitting up. Not too mention the fact that orange jellybeans taste far superior to blue jellybeans- oh, after the ninth replay, the video ref awarded the try, by the bye.
The Tigers were strong over the next twenty minutes, but could only add a further two points from a Marshall penalty goal, to level the scores at ten a piece.
From the 68th minute onwards, Penrith had things to themselves. Oh what fun they had. The 69th minute brought their third try into significance, after Brad Tighe latched onto a cut out pass, to dive over in the right corner.
The conversion missed, but this did not set Penrith back, as in the 75th minute, halfback Luke Walshe breaks the Tigers defensive line eight out to score beside the right upright. For fun, he converts his own try to give Penrith a safe ten point margin, 20-10.
"There is no harm in repeating a good thing". So said Plato.
It seems Luke Walshe agrees. With two and a half minutes left on the clock, he takes the last pass from a movement that started with a bomb and ended with him touching down five wide of the right upright, for his second try of the evening. Lucky to be awarded the try though, as one of Penriths inside runners was off-side from the original kick. But, fortunately, it did not influence the outcome of the match.
With the conversion, this took the final score to 26-10.
Which has quite possibly doomed the Tigers to another season without finals football.