An injury-ravaged Wests Tigers have recorded one of the bravest performances in their history with a battling 19-18 win over Canberra in an enthralling NRL encounter at Campbelltown Stadium tonight.
The Tigers finished the game with 14 players after losing James Tedesco, Sauaso Sue (shoulder) and Tim Simona (concussion) and withheld a barrage of second half pressure from the Raiders before Braith Anasta’s late field goal sealed the two points.
But the win came at a cost with Tedesco’s season looking like it may be over after he fractured his kneecap in the opening 10 seconds of the game.
The fullback, who was due to join the Raiders in 2015 until reneging on the deal earlier this month, collided with Terry Campese when fielding the kick-off and was immediately stretchered from the field.
He was taken to hospital and is expected to miss between 10 and 12 weeks.
Simona left the field midway through an action-packed, occasionally spiteful first half with concussion.
The Tigers led 18-12 at halftime following a brace of tries from David Nofoaluma and the outstanding Pat Richards on the stroke of the siren, with Branko Lee crossing twice for the visitors.
Scuffles broke out on three occasions between players from both sides in a series of flashpoints, the biggest being an accusation of eye-gouging by Robbie Farah against David Shillington.
Farah refused to make an official complaint to the referees, but not before sledging prop Brett White, telling the former NSW player ‘‘he should have retired five years ago.’’
The second period was dominated by the Raiders, with Mick Potter’s side hanging on grimly for dear life in front of their own line for almost all of the second stanza.
Despite their weight of possession, the Raiders had only a Jarrod Croker try to show for their effort and the centre spurned a glorious chance to win the game for his side when he missed a very kickable penalty from 35 minutes out.
Croker, who had earlier kicked three conversions, appeared to have his preparation disturbed by referee Matt Ceccin, who walked in front of him to move back two Tigers players.
After setting up for a second time he dragged the ball wide, as the struggling Raiders sunk to a morale-sapping defeat that almost certainly ends their season.
The Raiders were left to rue a number of missed opportunities late in the match, including a field goal attempt by Campese, which sailed wide of the posts.
Wests Tigers 19 (D Nofoaluma 2 P Richards tries P Richards 3 goals B Anasta field goal) Canberra Raiders 18 (B Lee 2 J Croker tries J Croker 3 goals) at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. Referee: Matt Cecchin, Gavin Reynolds. Crowd: 9,243
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