Ruthless NYC Tigers trounce the Rabbitohs
The Wests Tigers have moved back into equal second on the Holden Cup ladder with a comprehensive 40-14 win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Friday night.
The Tigers raced out to an early 22-0 lead and never looked troubled despite the Rabbitohs pegging back their lead to 12 points at the break.
It was a night out for winger Roman Ioelu who scored a double and kicked six goals, while fellow winger and late inclusion Toa Mata'afa also crossed twice.
The Tigers went into the game without their five leading try-scorers in 2016 but you wouldn't have known as they recorded their second crushing win over the Bunnies this season.
Bayley Sironen showed no signs of rust in what was his first game since Round 8, slicing straight through after four minutes to set up Tigers prop Mark McCormack for the evening's first points.
The game settled into an arm wrestle after that with South Sydney winning the territorial battle but unable to crack the Tigers' solid defensive line.
Buoyed by their steely defence, the Tigers extended their lead midway through the first half when Ryland Jacobs attracted two defenders to create space for Ioelu to score untouched in the corner to make it 10-nil.
The lead ballooned to 16 points just two minutes later as back-rower Jakob Giles barged over from close range to consolidate the black and golds' great start.
There was nothing solid about their next four-pointer with the Tigers showing plenty of pizzazz to score one of the best tries of the season on the half-hour mark.
Five-eighth Daniel Roberts took advantage of a quick play the ball on the last tackle stepping three times off his left foot before linking up with his halves partner Thomas Bartley who, at pace, put it on the toe for winger Toa Mata'afa to score.
The Rabbitohs managed to pull one back shortly after through Mawene Hiroti who crashed over in the corner after some broken play to give them some hope leading into half-time.
That hope intensified two minutes before the break as interchange forward Josh Saunders bashed his way through some would-be defenders close to the line to make it 22-10 at the interval.
The first try after the break was always going to be crucial and just like they did in the first half, it was the Tigers who crossed first in the second stanza.
Play looked to have broken down after a kick was blocked in the line on the last tackle, but thanks to some fast thinking, Ioelu recovered the loose ball, pirouetted past his defender and raced down the sideline to nab his second of the evening.
Things got even better for the home side with Ryan Papenhuyzen latching onto a ball from Jesse Jackson to celebrate his 18th birthday in style with a try.
The fill-in fullback then turned provider to set up Mata'afa for his second; the winger likely to owe his teammate a lemonade or two for the assist.
South Sydney managed to grab a consolation try 13 minutes from full-time with Hiroti sliding over out wide to complete his double but it mattered little as the Tigers joined the Cowboys in the hunt for the Holden Cup top two.
Wests Tigers 40 (Roman Ioelu 2, Toa Mata'afa, 2, Mark McCormack, Jakob Giles, Ryan Papenhuyzen tries; Roman Ioelu 6 goals) defeated Rabbitohs 14 (Mawene Hiroti 2, Josh Saunders tries; Mawene Hiroti 1 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Half-time: 22-10 Tigers.