Wests Tigers into NRL grand final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wests Tigers into NRL grand final

By Steve Jancetic 24/09/2005 10:01:41 PM Comments (0)

Wests Tigers fairytale run continued on Saturday night when they became the first team to qualify for this year's NRL grand final with a 20-12 win over a disappointing St George Illawarra outfit in their preliminary final clash at Aussie Stadium.

The joint venture outfit led all the way in securing a four-tries-to-two victory, with the black-and-gold contingent of the 41,260 strong crowd sent into raptures following the fulltime siren.

While the Tigers continued to play the simple brand of football which has seen them surprise North Queensland and Brisbane already this finals series, the Dragons were well blow par, turnovers proving costly just when they looked like getting back in the game.

The Tigers got off to the perfect start, with five-eighth Benji Marshall going over in the fourth minute following a knock-on from Dragons winger Colin Best inside his own 20m zone.

The Dragons, looking off pace and out of sync following their one week layoff, struggled to mount any real pressure on the Tigers, with referee Tim Mander denying them their best tryscoring opportunity when he called back a flying Matt Cooper due to an offside in the lead-up play.

Instead it was the Tigers who extended their lead three minutes later when young lock Dene Halatau weaved his way through the middle of the ruck, with the Dragons defence run off its feet after defending for back-to-back sets on their own line.

Frustrated by their inability to get any field position, the Dragons decided to spin the ball inside their own red zone and it paid immediate dividends, with winger Wes Naiqama racing 70m to score his side's opening points in the 27th minute.

The Tigers restored their advantage five minutes before the break when interchange forward Chris Heighington crossed out wide after a smart blindside play sparked by hooker Robbie Farah, with Brett Hodgson's conversion making it 16-6 at halftime.

Skipper Trent Barrett got the Dragons back in touch when he scored under the posts early in the second half after a strong run close to the Tigers line.

With Tigers' lead now cut to four the Dragons were seemingly back in the contest, but they were let down by a multitude of handling errors, with their frustration visibly growing with each dropped ball.

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