A rapid burst of three tries in five minutes has kept the Wests Tigers' finals hopes alive in an otherwise unconvincing 22-20 win over Manly at Campbelltown Stadium on Thursday night.
Despite a 47-metre penalty missed attempt after the siren from Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans, the Wests Tigers did enough to keep within reach of the top eight with one round remaining.
Ivan Cleary's men overcame a spirited Sea Eagles outfit in a dire spectacle to race out to a 22-8 lead after the visitors handled the opening 50 minutes with ease following a horror week of coaching speculation. They led 8-6 at half-time.
But the Sea Eagles' second half woes continued after last week's loss to the Titans with their five-minute fade-out proving their downfall, along with three disallowed tries throughout the clash.
Manly stormed home with two tries in the final 17 minutes to set up a grandstand finish, but the Tigers defence held firm late with an error from Brian Kelly helping their cause with three minutes remaining.
Match: Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles
Round 24 -
Venue: Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Sydney
But the overall Tigers performance won't impress Cleary.
The Tigers lost their cool earlier with a 67 percent completion rate - failing to capitalise on multiple chances with forced errors. Manly had no trouble finding metres and offloads in attack on the back of Cherry-Evans' boot.
A hospital pass from Esan Marsters to Luke Brooks caused the error allowing Manly to attack and Cherry-Evans pounced on a decoy opportunity from close range to carry Marsters over the line in just the third minute.
Back-to-back penalties enabled the Tigers to finally get on the board for their first of the night and level the scores in the 30th minute.
Mahe Fonua proved too strong in his wrestle with former teammate Moses Suli to pop an offload wide for Kevin Naiqama to stroll over the line in his final home clash.
A simple drop ball from Brooks on halfway allowed Manly to knock over a penalty goal in the ensuing set before halftime.
A David Nofoaluma line-break out of nowhere enabled Robbie Farah to find Chris Lawrence through a grubber kick, before Alex Twal broke through the line in similar fashion to set up Moses Mbye for a comfortable advantage 18-8.
The final blow came as Mbye found Naiqama down the left edge for his second of the evening to push the lead out slightly further 22-8.
But an easy effort from Trent Hodkinson at dummy half (63rd minute), followed with a freak effort from Tom Trbojevic to Cherry-Evans (72nd) set up a nail-biting final five minutes.
News & Notes:Tigers prop Russell Packer may attract some match review committee interest in his 15th minute 'crusher' tackle on Addin Fonua-Blake; Daly Cherry-Evans scored his 50th career try (from 194 games) and scored his 51st 69 minutes later; Wests Tigers snapped a seven-match losing streak at Campbelltown by scoring their first win since round 11, 2016; the Tigers have beaten the Sea Eagles twice in the same season for the first time. Crowd: 8,163.
Mbye extends Wests Tigers lead