The Wests Tigers’ NRL eason still has a heartbeat but they face a nervous weekend of watching their finals hopes go on the line after they held out a fast-finishing Manly 22-20.
After they trailed by two at the break, the Tigers looked to have the game in the bag when they unleashed three tries in the space of five minutes early in the second half to lead 22-8.
However they had to endure a nervous final six minutes after Trent Hodkinson scored and Tom Trbojevic caught a pass off his laces and found Daly Cherry-Evans to help bring Manly within two points.
Cherry-Evans then had a penalty shot at goal after the siren from 47 metres out and on the sideline to level the scores, but the kick fell two metres short.
The win moves Ivan Cleary’s men to within two points of the Warriors and Brisbane, still needing to beat South Sydney next week and hope one of those teams lose both their remaining games.
Their late collapse could also come back to haunt them, given they’re still 43 points behind the Warriors on for-and-against and 52 behind Brisbane when the margins could’ve been far smaller.
Brisbane now play the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night, while the Warriors face Ivan’s son Nathan against Penrith on Friday evening in Auckland.
“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens but it’s great that we’re still alive,” Cleary said.
“It looks pretty good actually midway through the second half.
“There’s a certain No.7 over in Auckland who knows what he’s got to do. Hopefully they do their job over there.”
The Tigers had earlier struggled to take their chances in the first half before two veterans kicked them into gear when Robbie Farah grubbered out of dummy-half for Chris Lawrence to score early in the second.
That spurred prop Alex Tawl to break downfield in the set from the kickoff, before he gave it to fullback Moses Mbye to dive over.
The Sea Eagles still hadn’t touched the ball again when they were found short on numbers on their right edge just moments later, allowing Kevin Naiqama to dot down for his second after crossing once in the first half.
The win marked the Tigers’ first at Campbelltown in 824 days, after they’d lost seven straight at the venue.
Meanwhile Manly’s loss capped off another horror week amid the Trent Barrett drama, and left them in danger of picking up their first wooden spoon if they lose to Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium next Sunday and results go against them.
They blew several chances to cross in the first half, and had three disallowed tries that Barrett questioned.
“They put themselves in positions to win so many games this year and just don’t get over the line,” Barrett said.
“I can count probably eight just like that.”