Canterbury and Wests Tigers played out a thrilling golden point contest at ANZ Stadium in Round 24 last season, with a Krisnan Inu field-goal inside the final minute of extra time proving the difference.
It was a heart-breaking result for the eighth-placed Tigers, who desperately needed a win against the competition leaders to maintain their tenuous hold on a finals berth. But it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Trailing 12-0 midway through the opening half following brilliant long-range tries to Aiden Tolman and Josh Reynolds, the Tigers finally opened their account shortly before half-time as Marika Koroibete crashed over out wide to make it 12-6 at the break.
A second Koroibete try early in the second half closed the gap to two and for a moment the Tigers thought they had taken the lead when Robbie Farah pushed his way over – only for video referee Sean Hampstead to rule he had been held up. That call proved crucial as Inu broke free in the 55th minute to send Barba across and extend the lead to eight points.
But again the Tigers weren’t finished. Some quick passing between Benji Marshall and Blake Ayshford saw Marshall fall across the line and although the Bulldogs were awarded a highly dubious try when Jonathan Wright scored with six minutes remaining for 22-16, scores were level when Aaron Woods crashed over as the clock ticked down.
That sent the game to golden point and just when it looked like nobody would land the killer blow, Inu launched a 30-metre field-goal shot that sailed between the sticks to continue the Bulldogs’ golden run.
The Tigers certainly had their chances: they completed 34 sets to Canterbury’s 27 and enjoyed 55 per cent of possession. They also missed 36 tackles to the Bulldogs 46 but couldn’t find the win.
Aiden Tolman, James Graham and Greg Eastwood all made well over 100 metres for Canterbury, with Graham adding 46 tackles and captain Michael Ennis chipping in with 54 tackles. Matt Utai ran for 205 metres and produced 10 tackle-breaks for the Tigers.