Tigers' Tedesco burns Dragons early
A blistering 20-minute sequence from Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco has inspired his side to a 22-4 win over the Dragons, making it back-to-back victories to start the season.
You would've called it an old-fashioned carve up – in the first half at least – only it was the Tigers' new kids on the block handing out the lessons.
In front of a vocal Campbelltown crowd of 11,837, the Tigers shot out of the blocks with a 14-0 lead inside the opening quarter of the match and the visitors were never in it after that.
In fact, Dane Nielsen's try in the 38th minute provided the only points of the night for a Dragons side that also crossed for just one try in their Round 1 clash with the Storm.
The Tigers, courtesy of Tedesco's ability to go from zero to one hundred in a flash, had no such problems.
The flashy fullback's first act was a 6th minute half-break that he turned into a clean one, his blinding acceleration forcing Gareth Widdop into a legs tackle before floating a miracle pass behind the defensive line to winger Kevin Naiqama for first points.
Three-straight sets on the Tigers line had the Dragons primed to level the scores, but a 13th minute bone-jarring hit from lock Martin Taupau on play one inspired the Tigers upfield. Their set travelled deep into the Dragons' red zone, but Tedesco only needed ten metres to burn more turf in his chase of a Luke Brooks grubber kick a minute later.
Pat Richards missed his second conversion, but it was a night when his fullback would give him plenty more opportunities.
Benji Marshall's inability to kick over the defensive line gave the Tigers supreme field position in the 18th minute, and after setting one up on the left, Tedesco was involved in a shift to the right and set up Richards' first try of the evening.
Tedesco's irresistible form simply couldn't be denied, and after fielding a Widdop kick for touch in the 23rd minute, he threw the second-to-last pass for Richards' second try, literally helping his side race out to a commanding 20-0 lead.
It could've been more had Tim Simona's pass not found the cameraman on a two-on-one overlap in the 33rd, and instead the Dragons finally got a reprieve when they converted a repeat set into four points on a Nielsen try set up by ring-in fullback Peter Mata'utia just before halftime.
The second half descended into a dour affair, with neither side able to cross the stripe. A penalty goal from Richards in the 73rd minute provided the only points of the half.
Tigers prop Keith Galloway was put on report in the 77th minute for unnecessary contact on Dragons forward Jack de Belin, while Rory O'Brien will also come under scrutiny for a dubious lifting the knee call in a collision with Martin Taupau in the 80th minute.
Wests Tigers 22 (Richards 2, Naiqama, Tedesco tries; Richards 3 goals) def. St George-Illawarra 4 (Nielsen try). Crowd: 11,837. Halftime: 20-4.