WESTS TIGERS 51 PARRAMATTA 26
WESTS TIGERS defended like a Toyota Cup team but their attack ensured they are again a top-eight team after a 51-26 win against a spirited Parramatta.
The Tigers scored enough points to win two games, but coach Tim Sheens will be more concerned with the number in the missed tackles column, despite unearthing a superstar in Marika Koroibete.
Raw talent ... Wests Tigers' Fijian winger Marika Koroibete scored four tries against the Eels. Photo: Getty Images
Last night's win in Campbelltown, highlighted by the four-try feat by Koroibete, put the Tigers ahead of the logjam on the cusp of the top eight.
But if they defend like they did in the first half come September, it is going to be a very short finals campaign for the pre-season favourites.
The Tigers would have prepared all week for an attacking onslaught from the bottom-placed Eels, who have thrown caution to the wind in back-to-back wins against Melbourne and Brisbane.
But they failed to put those preparations into practice, opening up through the middle of the field to let the Eels run riot, missing 30 tackles in a dismal opening 50 minutes.
The class of Benji Marshall and the pace of the exciting rookie on the wing, Koroibete, saved the Tigers from an embarrassing defeat.
With their team trailing 26-22, Marshall combined with the Fijian flyer to send him in for the first two tries of his two-game career, but more importantly took the Tigers out to an unassailable lead.
The last time Parramatta and the Tigers went head-to-head, Eels fans left Parramatta Stadium cursing Ben Roberts.
Last night, the few thousand diehards that made the trek to Campbelltown were singing his praises after scoring the opening try and setting up the next two in a dynamite first half.
Parramatta came into the game beaming with confidence following their recent efforts against Melbourne and Brisbane, but it looked like the Tigers would bring them crashing back down to earth when they strolled in for the opening try of the night inside five minutes.
Rather than deflate the giant-killers, it triggered them into an attacking frenzy, piling on 22 points in 19 minutes to take their record against the Tigers to 52 points in their last 41 minutes against the joint venture.
Eels fullback Jake Mullaney, a product of Sydney's south-west, haunted his junior club in the first half, crossing for two tries in front of his family and friends.
Fuifui Moimoi wound back the clock, playing with the aggression and venom not seen since Parramatta's charge to the grand final in 2009.
Who said Parramatta couldn't score points without Jarryd Hayne?
In his absence, Roberts, Chris Sandow, Joseph Paulo and Reni Maitua took over the reins as providers, putting their teammates through holes at will.
Just as it looked like the Tigers were about to surrender to the Eels, back-to-back penalties put them back in the contest.
With a top-eight position up for grabs, the Tigers were never going to die wondering. Tries to Chris Heighington and Matt Utai just before half time reducing a 22-6 deficit to just four points at the break.
They conceded the first try of the second half, but that was a minor hiccup in an explosive second half for the home side.
The registered the half-century after the siren, with Marshall putting the icing on the cake with a conversion from the sideline.
They will fight to keep their top eight spot next Saturday when they take on St George Illawarra.
WESTS TIGERS 51 (M Koroibete 4 M Utai 2 A Blair C Heighington T Moltzen tries B Marshall 7 goals B Marshall field goal) bt PARRAMATTA 26 (J Mullaney 2 B Roberts K Sio T Tautai tries L Burt 3 goals) at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. Referee: Jared Maxwell, Tony De Las Heras. Crowd: 14,822.