Tigers grab fourth for NRL finals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tigers grab fourth for NRL finals

David Beniuk 03/09/2011 10:26:32 PM Comments (0)

They were made to work hard for it, but a Robbie Farah-inspired Wests Tigers sneaked into fourth place and a home NRL final with a 30-22 victory over a gallant Cronulla at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night.

Farah scored a hat-trick, including a 78th-minute clincher, as the Tigers struggled to put the home side away in what became a nailbiter when Sharks winger John Williams scored in the 72nd minute to make it 26-22.

The six tries to four victory set up a blockbuster opening night to week one of the finals with a massive game against fifth-placed St George Illawarra.

With that match-up capable of drawing in excess of 50,000, the NRL chose to play the qualifying final at ANZ Stadium.

The win avoided a nasty trip to Brisbane for the Tigers and came against a Sharks side desperate to celebrate inspirational captain Paul Gallen's 200th game with an end to their seven-match losing streak.

The earlier victory for the Warriors over North Queensland earned the Auckland side sixth place and consigned the Cowboys to seventh.

If the standings remain the same after Sunday's games, Melbourne will host Newcastle, Manly will play the Cowboys and Brisbane will take on the Warriors.

As well as Farah, Mitch Brown, Tim Moltzen and Lote Tuqiri grabbed tries for the Tigers with Benji Marshall booting three from six.

For the Sharks, Williams (two), Stewart Mills and Jeremy Smith bagged four-pointers, while Williams kicked three from four.

It looked ominous for the Sharks when two tries in the opening nine minutes had the Tigers up 8-0 but the home side stuck with Tim Sheens' men and limited them to a 20-12 halftime lead.

Sheens would have been ropeable when Gallen sent Smith over three minutes after the break to narrow the gap to just two points.

The Tigers made it 26-18 went Farah scored his second after a neat ball from Gareth Ellis in the 60th minute before Williams set up a grandstand finish.

A late flurry from the Sharks came to nothing before Farah celebrated by slamming the ball down after notching his third.

With eight straight wins under their belt, Farah said the Tigers would have no fear of the premiers who they beat 16-14 a month ago.

"It's a semi-final, you've got to beat the best teams to win the comp and any team you come up against is going to be hard," he said.

"Last time we played them it was a tough game, we got them at the end but it took 80 minutes to get them.

"I'm sure it will be the same."

Sheens said the close shave with Cronulla was the result of a month's intense training.

"It was a tired effort from our guys," he said.

"I've worked them pretty hard for a month. We'll freshen them up this week.

"You don't have to be up mentally (for the final), you've got to be up physically for this game."

The Tigers' run has plenty thinking they can relive their 2005 premiership, among them Gallen.

"They've probably got to play through the middle a bit more. They play a bit expansive when a team's getting into them," he said.

"I definitely think they'll be around there. I'll back them. I think they'll be there with Brisbane."

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