The NYC Penrith Panthers have fallen to consecutive defeats, with the Tigers proving too strong for an experimental Panthers line-up at Pepper Stadium on Friday.
After a tight first half, the Tigers surged in the second 40 minutes to walk away 22-14 victors.
It wasn't the best of starts from Penrith as they fell behind after just three minutes. Tigers centre Tony Tali collecting a grubber down the left and finding his way over the line to open the scoring. Roman Ioelu converting to make it 6-0 to the Tigers early.
Consecutive mistakes from the kick-off invited more pressure from the Tigers who were ultimately penalised just short of the line on eight minutes to give the Panthers some relief.
With 15 minutes played Tigers fullback Daniel Roberts landed awkwardly in a tackle and had to be stretchered from the field.
As the action got back underway, the Penrith attack continued to stall as they failed to make metres and handed the ball over to the Tigers 20m from their line.
Not made to pay for that mistake, the Panthers charged up the field and had their first real crack at the Tigers line on 18 minutes only for an attempted grubber to be defused 10 metres out.
The metres weren’t coming easily for Penrith in the first half and after another average set they were gifted territory as Obed Karwhin dropped a Jarome Luai bomb on 25 minutes.
Christian Crichton then opened the scoring for the Panthers moments later as Luai and Daniel Edwards combined down the left to send the centre over the try-line. Luai unable to convert as the Tigers held on to a 6-4 lead.
Another unforced error from the Tigers put Penrith within striking distance of the Tigers line but an attempted grubber on the last was read well to deny them from crossing on 31 minutes.
The remainder of the first half never really threatened to offer more points as the Tigers went in to the break ahead.
HALFTIME - Wests Tigers 6-4
The Panthers started the second-half with greater attacking intent as Luai broke the Tigers line and ran 50 metres only to be dragged down a metre short of the try-line. Tigers hooker Jacob Liddle made the tackle and was sin-binned for not allowing Luai to play the ball.
With great field possession and an extra man there was no stopping Billy Burns from adding a second Panthers try moments later. The forward did well to gather a Sean O’Sullivan grubber close to the line and force his way over on 44 minutes. Luai was unable to convert as Penrith took the lead for the first time, 8-6.
Consecutive penalties then fell the Panthers way as they went within metres of another try only for a loose pass and knock on to spare the Tigers.
Despite playing a man down, the Tigers continued to charge in attack and found a try through Tali with 56 minutes played. The centre grabbed his second try of the night after the Tigers created numbers down the left. Ioelu failed to convert but the Tigers reclaimed the lead at 10-8.
The Tigers threatened to add another straight from the kick-off only for Edwards to make a clutch, one-on-one tackle 20 metres out to prevent the try.
There was no preventing a Tigers try minutes later however as Jakob Giles ploughed his way through a stretched Penrith line with 60 minutes on the clock. Ioelu was this time successful with his conversion to extend the Tigers lead to 16-8.
After being kept on the back foot for ten minutes, the Panthers were able to string an attack together and got within 10 metres of the Tigers line but couldn’t find a through on 65 minutes.
A Penrith set five metres out from the Tigers line minutes later couldn’t deliver any points either with Caleb Aekins tackled over the sidelines as he went for the corner post.
On 72 minutes the Tigers were able to find points of their own as Esan Marsters dummied and forced his way over the line. Ioelu converting to extend the Tigers lead to 22-8.
With the game pretty much over, Jack Hetherington salvaged some pride for the Panthers as he crossed over with 78 minutes played. Luai added the extras to make it 22-14 to the Tigers.
And that's the way it would stay as the Tigers picked up a hard-fought win.
FULLTIME - Wests Tigers 22-14