Fulltime score: Round 11 WESTS TIGERS 28 CANBERRA RAIDERS 16
It was a strange match where the pendulum swung both ways at various times of the game. In the first half it was all one way traffic with the Tigers dominating proceedings and racking up 22 unanswered points.
Early tries to Chris Heighington and Benji Marshall set the tone in the first half, with Marshall�s effort an absolute pearler. It was reminiscent of the type of plays current Tigers coach Tim Sheens used to employ when he was at the Raiders over a decade ago, with a deep backline movement from a scrum and the ball hitting a player at pace. Marshall stepped his opposite effortlessly and raced 30-odd metres to score and take the lead to 10-nil.
Further tries to Robbie Farah (22nd minute) and Paul Whatuira (26th minute) in the first half saw the Tigers skip to a comfortable 22-0 lead at the break. With Canberra searching for answers and playmaker Jason Smith out of the game with medial ligament damage, many expected them to fold.
But to their credit the Raiders came out firing in the second half, scoring three quick tries to powerful fullback Marshall Chalk (49th minute) before a run-away Lincoln Withers put another one on just three minutes later to really give the Tigers a shake. They were at it again in the 57th minute when Phil Graham steamed onto a pass close to the line and carried a defender over with him to really test the Tigers.
At this point the game began to deteriorate a little, with both teams making mistakes and giving away penalties. The players also looked tired and spent from a workload that was deceptively tough and continued to ask plenty of questions about both club�s defence.
With the Tigers leading 22-16, man-of-the-match Paul Whatuira came up with his second try of the day and sealed the victory for the home team with just over 15 minutes of play left. From here both sides found the going tough and Tigers fullback Brett Hodgson was the last player to bother the scoreboard attendant when he kicked a penalty goal in the 76th minute after Ben Cross (Raiders) and Bryce Gibbs (Tigers) both got ten in the bin for fighting.
WESTS TIGERS 28 Tries: Whatuira 2, Heighington, Marshall, Farah Goals: Hodgson 4/6 defeated CANBERRA RAIDERS 16 Tries: Chalk, Withers, Graham Goals: Gafa 2/3
The Raiders lead us onto Campbelltown Oval for the first time this year. The crowd has built steadily and the Tigers get us underway in the first half!
1 min: Pat Richards kicks off and finds touch about 15m into Raiders territory with a high bouncing kick that went over the oppositions heads. Tigers get the ball back from the scrum and are on the attack.
2 min: TRY - Chris Heighington for the Tigers goes over in the corner from a cross kick by Scott Prince despite some great defensive work by Marshall Chalk at fullback (he lost the ball after a good take initially). Hodgson misses the conversion and the score is 4-0 in favour of the home side. Tigers very much on the front foot.
8 min: TRY - Tigers. A scrum packs down and Prince gives the ball to Benji Marshall with a bit of depth. Marshall runs at the defensive line and puts on one of those unbeleivable freakish steps and carves up the defense then runs 30m to score under the posts. Hodgson converts easily and the score is 10-0 Tigers over the Raiders.
10 min: Paul Whatuira makes a break down the left side of the field and just puts a foot into touch before finding a flying Hodgson who would have scored. Tigers on fire early!
14 min: Hodgson misses a penalty goal from about 35m out. Raiders finding the ire of the referee at the moment and are struggling to keep up with the pace of the game in the early stages.
18 min: Tigers throwing the ball around, chipping over the top and finding gaps in the Raiders defence regularly but haven't capitalised with points. Great entertaining footy though. Raiders back in possession now and looking to settle into a rhythm.
22 min: TRY - Tigers. Robbie Farah goes in following a huge break down the western touch line by Matt Rieck. The ball travelled in field and found Farah who barged over with most of the Raiders offside. Hodgson converts and the Tigers lead 16-0 and look very good.
26 min: TRY - Tigers. Whatuira follows through on a grubber from Farah into the ingoal area and snatches a try from the clutches of fullback Chalk. Hodgson converts and takes the lead to 22-0.
28 min: Ok, it can't get much worse for the Raiders....Jason Smith has just left the field with an injury and they have just kicked out on the full from the restart for the second time this game. They are looking dishevelled and without any real direction in their game.
32 min: Early diagnosis of a medial ligament tear for Jason Smith. Not good at all for the Raiders and he probably won't be back today, it's generally a 4-6 week injury. Possession for the Tigers is enormous as they starve Canberra of the ball.
Halftime: Well the Tigers are going really well as a unit and playing some entertaining footy as well as smart footy. Across the park everyone is putting in and as a result they lead 22-0 at the break. Unfortunately for Raiders fans their team is in a spot of bother. Chief playmaker Jason Smith looks to be gone and they are a long way behind on the scoreboard. Mat Adamson is going ok, as is Marshall Chalk, but I can't see them repeating the heroics displayed against Penrith in round 9 when they came back from 18-nil down to record a 26-18 victory. They did look to have regrouped somewhat just before halftime and if the possession evens up they may be able to make a game of it, but the Tigers look hungry for points today and are putting in a great performance in front of a big home crowd in Campbelltown.
And we're underwayin the second half!
45 min: A few mistakes and penalties early in the second half as both teams look to find their feet after the resuption of play.
49 min: TRY - Raiders. After working their way down field, Chalk gets on the end of a pass at close range and wrestles himself over the line with attention from Hodgson. Conversion successful from Gafa and its 22-6 in favour of the Tigers.
52 min: TRY - Raiders. A runaway effort from Lincoln Withers with Kris Kahler in support has got the Green Machine back in the hunt. Gafa converts again and now its Tigers 22 Raiders 12 with just under half an hour to go.
56 min: Some big hits from both teams have just seen the ball dislodged twice.
57 min: TRY - Raiders. Well I'm not sure what they put in the water at half time, but Canberra have just scored their third try, this time through Phil Graham, out wide from a sweeping backline movement. The Tigers are as shocked now as the Raiders were in the first half. Gafa misses the attempt and the scores are Tigers 22 Raiders 16.
63 min: TRY - Tigers. The home team strikes back as Whatuira bags his second for the day after a string of passes finds him out wide and he grounds the ball close to the corner post. Hodgson just misses from the sideline and the score is 26-16 in favour of Wests.
70 min: Both teams seem resigned to the fate that this game is over although there is still ten minutes left. Whatuira picked up a bit of a calf muscle injury and there have been numerous mistakes in the last five minutes as players tire in the hot Campbelltown sun.
76 min: Hodgson boots a penalty goal off the back of the fight. Tigers lead 28-16.
Fulltime: Tigers run out winners by 28 points to 16 in an eventful and sometimes spiteful second half.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - P Whatuira (Tigers) 2 - B Hodgson (Tigers) 1 - M Chalk (Raiders) -----------------------------------------