Tigers crush Bulldogs in Holden Cup
A second-half blitz has inspired the Wests Tigers to a crushing 42-10 win over the Bulldogs in the Holden Cup at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers held a slender 6-4 lead at the break but came out firing in the second half with six straight tries to stay within three points of competition leader the Panthers.
The Tigers headed into the game averaging just over 42 points over the past five weeks and it didn't take long for their much-vaunted attack to click into gear against the Bulldogs.
Fresh off a two-try haul and 252 metres against the Rabbitohs in Round 9, fullback Luke Sharpe continued his impressive form with a huge left-foot step leading to the game's opening try.
While the No.1 got the points, credit has to go centre Samuel DeFiddes whose 30-metre bust down the right dragged most of the defence out wide.
The blue and whites tried hard to hit back but were denied not once but twice by some desperate goal-line defence that saw Joseph Tramontana and D'Rhys Miller held up over the line.
Instead the Tigers were nearly the next to score when a dribbling ball was scooped up by DeFiddes and grounded, only for the sideline official to put his flag up.
Both teams continued to pepper the line but were let down by their own handling errors.
The Bulldogs finally hit back six minutes before the break and they had long-locked centre and Milperra Colts junior Jayden Okunbor to thank after he scooped up a pass on the half volley before managing an offload in traffic to send Luis Strickland over in the corner.
After doing well to get back in the game, the Bulldogs were dealt a blow in the 40th minute when Tramontana was sent to the sin bin following repeated warnings from referee Chris Butler.
Whatever Tigers coach Willie Peters said at half-time must have worked as his side came out on fire to start the second stanza to confirm their top two position on the Holden Cup ladder.
Three tries in the space of eight minutes to their wingers turned a narrow two-point lead into a comfortable 20-point margin to blow the game wide open.
Late inclusion Roman Ioelu was the first to strike thanks to a great ball from Sharpe before he strolled over three minutes later after some nice work from Mapesone and Ryland Jacobs on his inside.
The carnage continued virtually from the kick-off as an offload from Taniela Paseka sent winger Ryan Papenhuyzen into the clear for a terrific long-range try.
Another quick brace heaped more misery on the Dogs as back-rowers Esan Marsters and Jakob Giles added their names to the scoreboard to move the Tigers further in front.
Marsters then showed why he earned a spot in the Kiwis under-20s side with some fancy footwork and deft hands to set up No.9 Jacob Liddle for his side's sixth try of the half.
The Bulldogs grabbed a late consolation try through winger Marcelo Montoya but it mattered little as the Tigers recorded their fourth straight win in style.
Wests Tigers 42 (Roman Ioelu 2, Luke Sharpe, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Esan Marsters, Jakob Giles, Jacob Liddle tries; Veiru Mapesone 7 goals) defeated Bulldogs 10 (Luis Strickland, Marcelo Montoya tries; Josh Bergamin 1 goal) at ANZ Stadium. Half-time: 6-4 Tigers. Sin bin: Joseph Tramontana (Bulldogs)