Defence won us the game: Taylor
Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor has credited his side's resolve in defence for their crucial 34-26 win over the Penrith Panthers on Saturday night.
A quick glance at the final score doesn't do the Tigers' defence any justice as the black and golds repeatedly held out their higher-ranked opponents before conceding two tries in the final few minutes.
The Tigers made more tackles, had less possession and received fewer penalties but that didn't stop them for registering their seventh win of the season to move within two points of the top eight.
Their desperation and scramble without the ball didn't just stifle Penrith's options in attack; it also led to points at the other end with two goal-line interceptions in the first half resulting in tries.
"We won the game with our defence," the proud Tigers coach said after the game.
"Penrith had a lot of sets at our line. They had something like 27 plays in our 20 [metre zone] compared to us having eight in theirs.
"We won the game because we defended that really well. We got some points that we needed, but it was about defence and we're really pleased with that.
"After 20 minutes, they'd had 70 per cent of the possession and we'd had 30. That slowly came back our way from that point but the game still finished at a point where they had 56 per cent of possession and we had 44 per cent.
"We got two penalties to eight and they just had so much footy, and we just defended and defended and defended, and it was really impressive."
Taylor acknowledged the importance of last week's fightback against the Melbourne Storm as the confidence boost his side needed to win a game he thinks they would have lost 12 months ago.
The Tigers trailed 26-0 at the break at AAMI Park last Sunday before limiting their opponents to just three points in the second half.
"I think it's a game we probably would have lost not that long ago," he said.
"We've been working really hard on it; we're making great improvements.
"Our defensive approach last week in Melbourne – albeit they got those four tries really early – we took a lot of encouragement out of that. We were really excited about how we did that and it was there again tonight.
"There's some real positivity around the way the guys are defending and it's great progress for us as a club."
Tigers prop Ava Seumanufagai told NRL.com that Saturday's win could prove crucial in the side's hunt for a spot in this year's finals series.
Like his coach, the Tigers prop said defence was the biggest thing to take out of the contest; especially their ability to handle Penrith's 25 offloads.
"I think they're the top offloaders in the competition so we did a lot of video on that throughout the week," the try-scoring front-rower said.
"That was something we needed to work on and I think the boys did really well tonight to stay committed up in the line.
"It's a really close competition this year so any two competition points we can get are crucial. It's important that we set ourselves up for the back end of the year because it's anyone's game once you make the eight."