Titans 12 Tigers 42
Wests Tigers coach Michael Potter feared fullback James Tedesco's season was over almost before it began.
Fans of the joint venture – even those with sunburn at a sweltering Cbus Super Stadium – went pale when the 21-year-old lay motionless after a first half collision during the 42-12 thrashing of Gold Coast on Sunday.
Wests Tigers' Martin Taupau celebrates with team mates after his try against the Titans. Photo: Getty Images
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Sezer, Kelly||Tries||2||Tries||7||Players||Richards(2), Tedesco, Thompson, Nofoaluma, Taupau, Brooks|
|Players||Sezer 2/2 (100%)||Conversions||2||Conversions||6||Players||Richards 6/7 (85%)|
|Players||Penalty goals||0||Penalty goals||1||Players||Richards 1/1 (100%)|
|Players||Field goals||0||Field goals||0||Players|
''I thought 'oh no' – I shat myself,'' Potter said. ''You think it's his knee. My first message to the runners was 'check on Teddy'.''
But a grinning Tedesco said after terrorising Gold Coast with 140 metres gained, nine tackle breaks and a line break: ''It was never the knee. I copped a knock in the personals. There was a fair bit of pain down there but I was OK before long.''
Some water to the affected area also helped ... ''I waited for the cameras to be off me first.''
Wests Tigers v Gold Coast Titans
Wests Tigers' defeated the Gold Coast Titans 42-12 at CBUS Super Stadium on Sunday March 16, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
Up 22-6 at half-time, the Tigers belted an inexplicably poor Gold Coast after the break to bury the memory of last week's heavy loss to St George Illawarra.
Temperatures in the middle of the newly renamed Cbus Super Stadium topped 40 degrees; drinks breaks and an extended half-time would have done little to assuage the distress of the 34 players involved.
The oppressive conditions could not have been more different to those in Wigan where he set multiple records, but veteran winger Pat Richards helped Wests Tigers bury the Titans on what was accurately marketed as ''White Hot Sunday''.
Richards, returning to the NRL after a stellar eight years in Super League, scored his first try after four minutes and another in the 31st, and booted 7 from 8 for an 22-point individual tally, in a dominant performance from the joint venture.
Richards' first try was from a simple overlap, in the north-western corner. He was unable to convert but had no trouble three minutes later when Tedesco crossed much closer to the posts after a kick from a sharp-looking Luke Brooks.
After replacement Sauaso Sue was booked for diving at the legs of Titans kicker Aidan Sezer, the five-eighth showed no ill-effects when he crossed in the 23rd minute off a Greg Bird break and converted himself, leaving the home side closer than it probably deserved to be.
But after the outstanding Tedesco executed a try-saving ankle-tap on Albert Kelly, Wests Tigers extended their lead when Richards scored in similar circumstances to his first with nine minutes remaining in the half, outdoing his previous effort by converting from the sidelines.
Former Titan Bodene Thompson then hammered in another nail in the shadows of half-time by fielding Braith Anasta's bomb for a try.
Cory Paterson was denied a try when the ball bounced off the posts two minutes into the second half.
But less than another 60 seconds elapsed before late inclusion David Nofoaluma scored after some smart lead-up by Brooks. Shortly before the second drinks break, prop Martin Taupau steamrolled over for another.
Brooks completed the scoring with a try in the 71st minute.