Tigers stun Dragons to ease pressure off Madge
Michael Maguire may have started this week hanging onto his job by a thread.
Now it might be on the strength of an unlikely mullet – as well as the play of Adam Doueihi – after the Wests Tigers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 16-8 victory over St George Illawarra.
Doueihi was the shining light in a dour game littered with poor attacking play, handling errors and missed tackles, with the Tigers five-eighth clearly a class above his counterparts.
The Lebanese international played a hand in all three of the Tigers tries on Sunday evening, and mastered a fierce southerly by nailing two clutch sideline conversions.
But while Doueihi has emerged as Maguire’s go-to man this year, the embattled coach may just have unearthed a new cult hero in winger Zac Cini.
The Penrith junior – and his estimated 100 raucous entourage in the southeast corner of WIN Stadium – stole the spotlight with a debut to remember.
Called up for the injured James Roberts (shoulder), the 20-year-old with the wild blonde mullet claimed his maiden try, was denied another, and even produced a trysaver in the first half.
His effort, combined with Doueihi’s classy play and a strong effort from Daine Laurie, was enough to ease the pressure on Maguire for at least a week.
They jump one spot above Brisbane to 14th on the ladder.
On the flip side, the honeymoon period is well and truly over for his counterpart in Anthony Griffin, who watched his side miss a whopping 42 tackles compared to 16.
After winning four in a row, the Dragons have now dropped three in a row and are fast resembling the side that cost Paul McGregor his job last year.
The signs were ominous early for the Tigers, when a Zac Lomax penalty goal to open the scoring was quickly followed by Cody Ramsey finishing off a left-side swing.
But the Tigers responded through Tommy Talau, who latched onto a David Nofoaluma tapback to keep the visitors within two at the break.
It was the impetus they needed to pile the pressure on after halftime, keeping the Dragons scoreless in the second half while scoring through Cini and Joseph Leilua.
Corey Norman assumed goalkicking duties after Zac Lomax left the field injured. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
BEN HUNT BACK FROM BROKEN LEG
Making his anticipated return following a four-week absence with a broken leg, Hunt looked dangerous in attack, particularly when linking with his halves partner in Corey Norman.
And while the former Kangaroos representative also pulled off a trysaver on Luke Garner just before halftime, he had nine of the Dragons’ 42 missed tackles.
LOMAX INJURY BLOW
Such was the form Lomax was in, the Dragons three-quarter was being mentioned as a possible bolter for a spot in the NSW State of Origin backline.
But any chance of an unlikely call-up have seemingly been shattered by a suspected fractured thumb early in the first half while defending his line, which could result in a month on the sideline.
CINI SEES NRL
Cini impressed early with a line break, while also cutting Billy Burns just short of the tryline.
But he quickly made a name for himself in the second half, sending his supporters in raptures when he was on the end of a Luke Brooks kick, only to be overturned by the bunker.
But he didn’t have to wait long for his maiden four-pointer, when he finished off a set piece play, with Joseph Leilua sealing the win with a try in the 65th minute.
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