The Tigers are back in the winner’s circle after defeating a desperate Bulldogs outfit 36-22 on home soil at Leichhardt Oval.
Michael Maguire’s men shot out to an 18-nil lead at half time but some home truths at half time saw the Bulldogs show signs of life and stage a comeback of sorts.
It was the response the Bulldogs faithful desperately needed to see after a horror week in which the club parted ways with coach Trent Barrett.
Star Tigers halfback Jackson Hastings said pre-game that his side had to be ready for a Bulldogs ambush after the tumultuous week at Belmore but it was the Tigers that got on the board first.
Luke Garner and Starford To’a crossed for tries in the opening 13 minutes, before Ken Maumalo extended the lead with a double.
But the Dogs turned the game on its head in the second half, scoring two tries in three minutes and then another in the 54th minute.
The Tigers responded, scoring two tries in seven minutes. The Dogs kept the game alive when Aaron Schoupp crossed for a well-deserved try, but Nu Brown’s second four-pointer of the night seal the win.
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Nu Brown barged over for his second try of the night to seal the Tigers’ win. Just moments later Jackson Hastings was given an early mark as he hobbled off the field with what looked to be a lower leg concern.
Aaron Schoupp got a well-deserved try for the Bulldogs to keep the game alive. Matt Burton nailed the conversion to take the score to 30-22.
The Tigers got back into their rhythm thanks to a timely try to club debutant Nu Brown who played his first NRL game since 2019 after a horror run with injuries.
They doubled down with Jock Madden scoring off a chip and chase seven minutes later.
The Dogs’ momentum was killed when gun centre Aaron Schoupp was sin binned for a lifting tackle.
The Bulldogs continued their roll with some brilliance from Matt Burton. The star five-eighth looked to kick a grubber but instead passed to the left, Aaron Schoupp flicked it onto two-game rookie Jacob Kiraz, who scored in the corner.
Cooper Cronk was certainly a fan of Burton’s decision, declaring: “I love that play from Matt Burton.”
The Bulldogs had well and truly come alive. Jeremy Marshall King made a break to get his team down the other end of the field. Later in the set the hooker then barged over to score. Matt Burton converted to narrow the gap to 18-12.
Tigers — who were already on the back-foot — copped an untimely blow when Jackson Hastings was sin binned for a professional foul.
The Dogs needed their big guns to step up and Tevita Pangai Junior did exactly that straight after half time. The star forward came up with some silky footwork before offloading to Matt Burton to score.
Ken Maumalo crossed for his second of the night to extend the Tigers’ lead to 18-nil at half time.
Noticeably, Maumalo clutched at his heavily-strapped knee after the try.
The Tigers extended their lead through veteran winger Ken Maumalo who crossed in the corner after some quick hands from Bulldog-turned-Tiger Brent Naden.
It came as Cooper Cronk pointed out mid-way through the first half that the Bulldogs looked “flat.”
The Tigers stamped their dominance, scoring two tries in 13 minutes.
The first came in the fifth minutes when Luke Garner crossed off a Joe Ofahengaue ball, but Jackson Hastings was unable to convert so the score remained 4-nil.
Eight minutes later, Starford To’a scored after a double-pump pass from Hastings, who came up with some “top shelf halfback play,” according to Fox League analust Cooper Cronk.
Jock Madden took over the kicking duties and took the score out to 10-nil.
It may be a bottom of the table clash but make no mistake both teams have plenty to play for.
The Tigers found some form when they won back-to-back games in Rounds 6 and 7 but have suffered three consecutive losses since then.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are hoping to put their week from hell behind them.
The club has dominated headlines all week after parting ways with Trent Barrett on Monday, while several key players will miss the clash after a bad case of the flu swept through the squad.
Adding even more spice to the game is the fact Brent Naden will go up against his former club after gaining a release from the Bulldogs on Tuesday to sign with the Tigers that same day.
Mick Potter has stepped in as interim coach of the Bulldogs and with the assistants has put together a new-look 17 due to both forced and unforced changes.
Star winger Josh Addo-Carr is the biggest loss due to the flu, while Jackson Topine sand Bailey Biondi-Odo have also been ruled out.
Big-name forward Tevita Pangai has been dropped to the bench with Joe Stimson moving into the run-on side.
Josh Jackson moves to an edge with Max King starting at lock. Jacob Kiraz gets his second NRL game on the wing in place of Addo-Carr, while 27-year-old New South Wales Cup veteran, Zach Dockar-Clay earns a well-deserved debut off the bench.
Raymond Faitala-Mariner is an exciting inclusion for the Dogs with the second-rower set to play his first game since 2020.
As for the Tigers, Jock Madden replaces the injured Luke Brooks at five-eighth and Jacob Liddle comes in for Jake Simpkin (head knock) at hooker.
Along with Naden, Nu Brown will make his club debut off the bench after making the mid-season switch from the North Sydney Bears.
Wests Tigers fan favourite Alex Twal also plays his 100th NRL game.
Tigers: 1. Starford To’a 2. Junior Tupou 21. Brent Naden 4. Tyrone Peachey 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Jock Madden 7. Jackson Hastings 8. James Tamou 9. Jacob Liddle 10. Zane Musgrove 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Joe Ofahengaue 14. Kelma Tuilagi 15. Alex Twal 16. Fa’amanu Brown 17. Stefano Utoikamanu. Replacement player: 18. Alex Seyfarth
Bulldogs: 1. Matt Dufty 2. Jayden Okunbor 3. Aaron Schoupp 4. Jake Averillo 19. Jacob Kiraz 6. Matt Burton 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Luke Thompson 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Paul Vaughan 15. Joe Stimson 13. Josh Jackson 16. Max King 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 17. Chris Patolo 20. Zach Dockar-Clay 23. Raymond Faitala-Mariner. Replacement player: 26. Declan Casey
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