Updated August 13, 2017 19:17:49
Malakai Watene-Zelezniak’s 79th-minute try has handed the Wests Tigers a thrilling 30-26 win over the Manly Sea Eagles, following the Canberra Raiders’ comfortable win over the New Zealand Warriors.
The Wests Tigers have dented Manly’s prospects of a top-four finish and boosted their own prospects of avoiding the wooden spoon in a thrilling 30-26 comeback win at Leichhardt Oval.
The Tigers trailed 20-6 at the break after first-half try doubles to Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans and Akila Uate.
The home team roared back after the break and completed a stirring recovery with winger Malakai Waten-Zelezniak crossing for the winning try with less than two minutes to play.
If the half-time margin had stayed the same the Sea Eagles would have gone fourth on points differential and the Tigers fallen to last behind Newcastle.
The Tigers revival started when centre Kevin Naiqama and five-eighth Tuimoala Lolohea crossed for tries.
However, Tigers’ full-back James Tedesco dropped the restart kick after Lolohea’s try and shortly after Addin Fonua-Blake barged over to give Manly a bit more breathing space.
The hosts rallied again and cut the gap to two with 18 minutes to go after Sauaso Sue charged over the line.
The Tigers also started the game well with Elijah Taylor scoring the first try, but Manly then rattled 20 unanswered points.
The Tigers played much of the match without hooker Matt McIlwrick, who suffered concussion in the first half.
Canberra has kept its slim finals chances alive and rubbed salt into the slumping Warriors’ wounds by inflicting a 36-16 drubbing on the hosts in Auckland.
While performing with far more energy and drive than in last weekend’s capitulation to bottom-placed Newcastle, typical blunders and poor try-line defence cost the Warriors dearly on their home patch as they fell to a sixth straight defeat.
They stayed in the hunt until the 60th minute when, trailing 18-10, tries to Raiders right-edge duo Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana killed off the contest.
Nick Cotric then added insult to injury, before young second rower Isaiah Papali’i nabbed a Warriors consolation try with a minute to go.
Backing up solid wins over the Rabbitohs and Sharks, the Green Machine’s 20-point victory — six tries to three — keeps them within four points of the eighth-placed Cowboys.
They must win their final three matches against Penrith, Newcastle and Melbourne to have a chance sneak into the top eight.
The Warriors’ finals hopes, however, are long gone — with Sunday’s match marking their worst loss of the season to date.
Two trademark gaffes bookended the Aucklanders’ first stanza in relentless drizzle, with the Raiders heading into the break 18-6 ahead.
For the first, centre Solomone Kata got on the end of an Ata Hingano grubber, only to lose the ball and injure his shoulder while grounding — and then watch on in horror as winger Cotric broke down the left to score in the next play.
Tries to Jarrod Croker and Blake Austin followed, sandwiching a David Fusitu’a effort, before Hingano tumbled over with the tryline begging near half-time.
Likely handed a rocket by coach Stephen Kearney in the sheds, the Warriors turned the screws with repeat sets of six in the early second half.
But, barring a well-worked Roger Tuivasa-Sheck try down the left, the Warriors could not break through before letting the floodgates open to the Raiders.
Topics:nrl, rugby-league, sport, balmain-2041, manly-2095, brookvale-2100, nsw, canberra-2600, act, australia, new-zealand
First posted August 13, 2017 13:14:13
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