A late Wests Tigers try steals a dramatic win over the Melbourne Storm and ruins Billy Slater’s 300th game, after the Panthers and Warriors claimed Saturday wins.
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Tigers spoil Slater’s party with stunning late win
The Giant-killing Wests Tigers have toppled NRL premier Melbourne on its own turf, with Luke Brooks scoring a last-ditch try to claim a 10-8 victory.
After their opening-round defeat of premiership heavyweights the Sydney Roosters, the Tigers showed no fear against the Storm on Saturday night to continue their unbeaten start to the season.
The Tigers tossed aside the script for Storm superstar Billy Slater’s 300th NRL match to rattle the home side from the opening whistle and nailed the win with Brooks’ try in the 78th minute.
In a frantic first half, the Tigers beat Melbourne at their own game — out-defending the tightest team in the competition.
Frustrated by their inability to get across the line, the Storm’s error count grew alongside their penalty count.
Like the Roosters game, it was a tryless first half and a scoreless match until Esan Marsters kicked two penalty goals in the final two minutes of the half for a 4-0 lead.
That was extended to 6-0 in the 57th minute before the Storm finally made it onto the scoreboard.
Tigers prop Ben Matulino was sin-binned for a professional foul and Melbourne took advantage of the numerical advantage to send the ball wide to winger Suliasi Vunivalu, who dived across in the corner.
It was the highlight of Vunivalu’s otherwise below-par night, with the Fijian flyer guilty of a number of schoolboy errors.
Smith shanked the conversion and, with his team still trailing, was forced to rely on two penalties for the champions to go ahead in the 72nd minute.
It looked like Melbourne would hold on for the win but the Tigers wouldn’t be denied, with Matulino making amends as he found Brooks on the charge for his match-winning try.
Panthers come from behind to edge Bunnies
The Panthers left it late to mount a charge, but it was a successful one. (AAP: Daniel Munoz)
Penrith has cemented its status as the NRL’s early-season comeback kings, after beating South Sydney 18-14 and fighting from 14-0 down for a second-straight week.
A week after overcoming the same deficit to beat Parramatta at the same venue, the Panthers endured a pointless first half against the Rabbitohs on Saturday before piling on three second-half tries.
The last came with just four minutes remaining, a spectacular five-pass final-tackle play as the Panthers spread it right before offloading, allowing Nathan Cleary to provide a short lofted inside ball for Tyrone Peachey to burrow his way over.
Making Peachey’s effort even more remarkable was the fact it came after he spent the first 63 minutes of the game on the bench — the last 10 of those pacing the sideline and looking at the coach’s box desperate to get on.
The hosts survived a last-ditch Rabbitohs effort at Panthers Stadium, after Cleary missed a field goal on the siren and Souths attempted to catch it and go the length of the field.
Penrith had some assistance in the comeback, after Greg Inglis was ruled out of the last 33 minutes of the match and the Rabbitohs struggled to spark anything in attack.
Trent Merrin and Waqa Blake scored second-half tries, Merrin’s effort to open the account coming after he pushed and spun his way over to get the ball down backwards over his head.
Blake’s came with 15 minutes to play, setting up the grandstand finish.
Earlier, the Rabbitohs looked to have control of the match with a dominant opening half.
They had their first in the 15th minute via a length-of-the-field effort through five sets of hands, kick started by a Richard Kennar bust and finished by a jinking Cody Walker run.
Hooker Damien Cook — easily one of the Rabbitohs’ best — scored their other before halftime when he broke through the middle of a seemingly tired defensive line and set up the 14-0 lead
Warriors two from two after win over Titans
The Warriors have continued their unbeaten start to the 2018 NRL season, outclassing Gold Coast 20-8 in Auckland.
Barring a brief spell of early-game jitters, the home side dominated Saturday’s game, deploying a free-flowing style.
They bagged two tries in the first half through winger David Fusitu’a and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, before Solomone Kata and Fusitu’a crossed in the second.
In stark contrast, the Titans — without injured playmaker Ashley Taylor — had plenty of ball but couldn’t breach a disciplined Warriors’ defence.
They remained tryless until the 78th minute, after an early Michael Gordon penalty goal, but secured a consolation via winger Anthony Don.
Having won last week’s opening-round clash with South Sydney, the Warriors have started a season with back-to-back wins for just the third time.
After the Titans’ early 2-0 lead, the Warriors piled on the pressure, eventually nabbing their first in the 18th minute through Fusitu’a.
Captain Tuivasa-Sheck followed five minutes later, collecting a Blake Green inside ball to skip past two men and score between the posts.
Ahead 12-2 at the break, the Warriors continued to turn the screws in the second half, but wasted chance after chance to extend their lead.
Tuivasa-Sheck, Sam Lisone and Bunty Afoa all bombed opportunities before the Titans’ Phillip Sami had a try controversially disallowed for obstruction.
Kata extended the Warriors’ lead in the 63rd minute, barrelling over on the left edge after collecting a Tuivasa-Sheck offload, and Fusitu’a sealed the match.
Rising high to collect a Shaun Johnson bomb, the Tongan winger outjumped his Titans counterpart to score his second and guarantee the two points.