Tiger threat grows after keeping Bulldogs from biting back
RUGBY LEAGUE: An in-form Norths Tigers continued their mid-season revival to overcome the West End Bulldogs 24-8 and stay in touch with the top four at the kennel last night.
Norths had too much experience in the defining moments for the developing doggies.
The class of seasoned campaigners like halfback Steven West and dual try-scorer Anava Fesolai proved decisive.
The pair came up with some crucial plays as Norths opened up an 18-4 half-time lead.
In a fashion typical of their namesake, the Bulldogs demonstrated resilience and spirit, and were never out of the fight.
Their committed effort saw them leak just the single second-half try.
It came late in the piece on the back of a West End fumble.
West End coach Jae Woodward said his charges had improved their effort exponentially from recent outings and the scoreline did not reflect the competitiveness of the contest.
He said the Bulldogs had dominated field position but blown five clear-scoring opportunities due to a lack of direction, whereas Norths had finished clinically and capitalised on their chances.
"We had a 21-year-old and an 18-year-old calling the shots, and they will be better for it," he said.
West End's Kaya Cuthers and Mileni Reupanea made their debuts in the top grade.
Both equipped themselves admirably and impressed their club mentor.
Woodward also praised Aiden Boyce, Kelepi Faukafa and Ipswich High speedster Ativalu Lisati. "They were solid, as they are week-in, week-out," he said.
The Tigers (28) keep their playoff ambitions burning.
The loss means it would take a miracle for the Bulldogs (21) to feature in the finals this season.
"If you critiqued our season on wins and losses, it would obviously be a fail," Woodward said. "But these guys keep showing up and trying to improve their games."
Woodward said his club did not have any Diggers representatives in previous seasons but several players had made it this year, indicating they were improving and so was the club.
He was also unhappy with refereeing standards in general.
"Every club has improved but the refereeing hasn't improved,'' he said.
Woodward said the best referees were not necessarily being allocated A-Grade games and this had caused some of the region's most experienced officials to walk away from the game.
He said clubs paid $290 per match to cover the cost of officials and Rugby League Ipswich needed to take immediate action to remedy the issue.
State of Play
RLI A-Grade Rd 14: Norths Tigers 24 (Anava Fesolai 2, Drew Robertson, Dylan Martin tries; Drew Robertson and Steven West 3 goals) def West End 8 (Lisite Hafoka, Kaya Cuthers tries).