Wests Tigers edge South Sydney 23-22 in NRL thriller, North Queensland humbles Gold Coast 30-4

Luke Brooks has nailed a final-minute field goal to kick the Wests Tigers to a 23-22 win over South Sydney.

In Saturday’s earlier match, North Queensland outclassed Gold Coast 30-4 in Townsville.

After Jackson Hastings sent home a field goal to sink Parramatta on Easter Monday, it was Brooks who was the hero at the Western Sydney Stadium.

Standing on almost the same patch of turf with 59 seconds to play, Brooks nailed the field goal from 25 metres out to secure a second straight win for the Tigers.

The kick capped an enthralling clash, which swayed both ways and claimed a number of casualties with the Rabbitohs finishing with just one on the bench.

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On a brutal night for the Rabbitohs, Jacob Host hurt his shoulder and Liam Knight his leg, while Hame Sele was concussed in the opening minutes.

The Tigers’ win also came at a cost, with fullback Daine Laurie suffering a suspected medial ligament injury in his knee and sitting out the second half.

Ken Maumalo also limped off late, before Brooks’s final-minute heroics.

Often maligned for their lack of organisation and with Brooks under fire after their poor start to the year, it was the Tigers who handled the final minutes better.

While Hastings missed two shots for the Tigers, Taane Milne made a late attacking error and Jai Arrow also rushed a panicked shot at field goal.

His mis-kick that barely left the ground put the Tigers on the attack, and while Jock Madden was initially charged down an accidental offside gave Brooks the defining chance.

In truth, the Tigers had always looked the better team.

With Hastings at halfback and Brooks at five-eighth, Michael Maguire’s side look a completely different side that went 0-5 through the opening five rounds.

They completed at 98 per cent, making just three errors for the match while still throwing plenty at the Rabbitohs’ defence.

Laurie was in everything before his injury, putting David Nofoaluma over for the Tigers’ first with a quick catch-and-pass from Hastings.

Bizarrely, the Rabbitohs scored both their first-half tries while down to 12 players, with Milne sin-binned for a late high hit in the lead-up to the Tigers’ opening points.

They also bagged their first try of the second half with the Tigers down to 12, with Alex Twal off the field for a professional foul just before the break.

At that point the Rabbitohs led 16-12 but the Tigers drew level through Nofoaluma, before Brooks scooped up a loose ball and went 70 metres to score to make it 22-16.

And while Lachlan Ilias put Keaon Koloamatangi over with eight minutes to play to level the scores for South Sydney, it ultimately only set up Brooks’s grandstand finish.

Cowboys hammer Titans

Scott Drinkwater (left) was in the thick of the action for the Cowboys.(AAP: Scott Radford-Chisholm)

Scott Drinkwater played a starring role in North Queensland’s demolition of Gold Coast, as the Cowboys ran in five tries to move to provisional fourth on the ladder.

Playing fullback in place of the injured Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Drinkwater had a direct hand in three of his team’s tries, scoring one of his own, as the Cowboys’ defence held their opposition to just one try at home for third time this season.

The Cowboys (4-3) enjoyed the lion’s share of possession throughout in Townsville, pinning the Titans in their own half with deep kicks and the defensive line speed they have adopted through seven rounds.

Taking a 16-4 lead into the break, the home side ran in two unanswered tries in the second half with Gold Coast unable to capitalise on its numerical advantage when Jeremiah Nanai went to the sin bin in the 52nd minute.

Upon returning to the field, Nanai immediately latched onto a kick from halfback Chad Townsend to score untouched with the Titans goal-line defence appearing uninterested in getting a hand on the 19-year-old.

Drinkwater then put a hard-running Heilum Luki through a hole to score in the 72nd minute before Valentine Holmes slotted a penalty goal to complete the scoring.

In the first half, it took just five minutes for the Cowboys to get on the board as Holmes drew in David Fifita and Patrick Herbert in midfield before finding Murray Taulagi who passed inside to Tom Dearden to score.

The home side held their nerve in defence, but were thwarted by repeat sets on their own line as Fifita — playing at centre — offloaded to Jamayne Issako to score for the Titans.

It was all North Queensland for the remainder of the half as Drinkwater’s 19th-minute grubber ricocheted off two players and sat up for Taulagi to score.

In a moment of brilliance, Drinkwater scored the pick of the Cowboys’ five tries, going untouched from a scrum in the 31st minute, showing and going past two defenders before dummying past Fifita in the corner.

Gold Coast had one more attacking set before the break but Erin Clark was held up just short of half-time.

Clark’s effort would be the closest they would come again, as errors, poor discipline and penalties cost the Titans all game as they fell to 2-5 for the season.

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AAP/ABC

Reference-www.abc.net.au

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