Match summary: In what ended up being quite an unusual game of football, the Tigers have cemented a Top 4 spot on the NRL Ladder with a 22-14 defeat of the Canberra Raiders in the nation's capital.
The Raiders led 14-0 at halftime and clearly were dominating, but injuries around the halftime break to both Jason Smith and Matt Adamson for Canberra saw the Tigers creep back into the game. In the final ten minutes, the Tigers threw themselves into the lead and as the siren was to sound, Hodgson sealed the Raiders' fate.
The home side came out firing in the first half, and after a quiet first 15 minutes, they finally scored, and then managed to get across twice before the break. The second half however saw Wests score 22 unanswered points, in a performance engineered by fullback Brett Hodgson, who himself bagged 14 points courtesy of a double, and three from four goals.
The Tigers now go on to cement their spot in the four, while the Raiders will be ruing the opportunity to put the Bulldogs and Warriors out of contention, and themselves lengthening their odds of making the final series.
Raiders v Tigers match photos: Click here to see the photo gallery for this game
Scorers: CANBERRA RAIDERS 14 Tries: P Graham, A Mogg, D Howell Goals: C Schifcofske 1/3 WESTS TIGERS 22 Tries: B Hodgson 2, D Fitzhenry, R Farah Goals: B Hodgson 3/4
Venue: Canberra Stadium Referee: Tony Archer Half time: Raiders 14-0
Live commentary: 0 min: KICK-OFF. Both teams with an excellent first set. This is set to be a cracker!
11 min: PLAY UPDATE Canberra making the most of opportunities so far but still unable to crack the Tigers' line. The score remains 0-all at Canberra Stadium.
16 min: NEWS- 40/20 TIGERS Prince puts in a superb downfield kick which catches Gafa out of position and now the Tigers will be heavy on the attack. So far slly errors have cost Canberra points, but their defence in general has been superb. Tigers heavy on the attack now.
17 min: NEWS- NO TRY TIGERS Tigers called back for a forward pass from the ensuing set. Raiders to work it back upfield. 0-all.
19 min: PLAY UPDATE- After a sluggish start things starting to pick up at Canberra Stadium. First the Tigers turning the tide with the 40/20, now the Raiders fight back with some superb play forcing another set. Raiders on the attack. 0-all.
23 min: PLAY UPDATE- Canberra make a sensational break but the pass for the try is flagged down by Hodgson. Raiders ball. 0-all.
24 min: TRY- RAIDERS Despite protest of an obstruction Phil Graham receives a brilliant Jason Smith pass and puts Canberra in front. Schifcofske can't convert. Canberra 4 Wests 0.
32 min: TRY- RAIDERS Easy try for Mogg after some disgustingly poor Tigers defence. The Raiders travel 70m after a Tigers drop ball on the last. Schficofske converts. Canberra 10 Wests 0.
34 min: PLAY UPDATE- Tigers manage to force a Canberra error but the Raiders defence is too good. Fitzhenry fumbles on the last and Canberra will return upfield once again.
38 min: TRY- RAIDERS David Howell scores another easy long-range try and the Tigers look dead. Schifcofske's shocking kicking today may be their only saving grace so far, he misses. Canberra 14 Wests 0.
HALFTIME: Canberra Raiders 14 Wests Tigers 0 Unbelievable first half, the giant-kiling Wests Tigers being silenced by the Raiders, whose finals chances are well and truly on the line today. Canberra lead the penalties, while the Tigers lead the scrums - however, the Tigers have dropped far more ball, with two errors leading to try-scoring runs for Canberra. Their defence and ball-handling will need work in the second half. Canberra dominating so far. Time will tell if they can go on with the job.
PLAY UPDATE- Second half underway.
44 min: TRY- TIGERS Brett Hodgson scores for Wests and they're on the board. Converts his own try. Canberra 14 Wests 6.
55 min: PLAY UPDATE- Both teams throwing everything at it but neither is able to get across the line. Benji's sidestep got the better of him minutes ago as Smith collared him, giving the Tigers a penalty right on the line. No team able to get over the line though. Canberra 14 Wests 6.
60 min: TRY TIGERS- Fitzhenry try. Hodgson converts. Canberra 14 Wests 12.
62 min: ON REPORT- Penalty Tigers after Alan Tongue is put on report for a high shot on Tigers player Heighington. Tigers heavy on the attack.
63 min: NO TRY- TIGERS Fitzhenry denied a try after being pulled into touch in a desperate tackle from Canberra. Canberra 14 Wests 12.
69 min: TRY- TIGERS Tigers are in the lead! Farah scores and Hodgson converts. Canberra 14 Wests 18.
73 min: PLAY UPDATE- Both teams playing some great football now, but need to exercise some better last tackle options. Raiders on the attack. Canberra 14 Wests 18
79 min: TRY- TIGERS Hodgson with a double and the Raiders are spent. Conversion unsuccessful. Canberra 14 Wests 22.
FULLTIME: Canberra Raiders 14 Wests Tigers 22. The Raiders have turned in a pretty disappointing second half after being on top at the break 14-0. The loss of Adamson and Smith had a great effect on their hopes to stay in the finals race. After a slow start, the Tigers will be happy to have cemented themselves in the top 4 after today's win.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - B Hodgson (Tigers) 2 - R Farah (Tigers) 1 - L Withers (Raiders) -----------------------------------------