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Tigers begin post-Taylor era with NRL loss

NZN 26/03/2017 Matt Encarnacion

The post-Jason Taylor era got off to a losing start for the Wests Tigers after they blew a 14-0 lead in a eight-point NRL loss to undefeated Melbourne on Sunday.

In an emotionally-charged afternoon at Leichhardt Oval, the Tigers succumbed 22-14 and could also lose halfback Luke Brooks for an extended period with a hamstring injury.

It was a sorry end to what was a promising start for the besieged joint-venture club, who parted ways with Taylor on Monday after their round-three humiliation against Canberra.

Caretaker coach Andrew Webster welcomed the improved effort after conceding a combined 82-10 over their previous two games, and a losing streak that has now reached three matches.

"A couple of things change there, we could've come out winners. We didn't, we've got to get better, but the performance is there, they wanted to play for each other," Webster said.

"We take a lot of positives out of it because in the last couple of weeks, it's been tough. And they're proud of each other. You take more out of it because it's a performance."

Taylor's axing appeared to pay immediate dividends after the Tigers surged to a two-try lead inside the opening half an hour, bringing the 12,649-strong crowd to life.

The turning point came just before halftime, when Tigers winger David Nofoaluma was denied a try and the Storm were controversially awarded one down the other end.

The bunker ruled Nofoaluma was advantaged by an obstruction in the lead-up, before Melbourne's Nelson Asofa-Solomona scored off a Joel Edwards turnover minutes later.

Edwards dropped the ball after getting knocked out in a collision with Asofa-Solomona on a play-one carry, however the prop's tackle was cleared by the bunker and the decision stood.

"It was a horrible start really. I can't remember we started as poorly as we did. We just couldn't hang onto the footy," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.

"I thought our main problem was our defence in the first half - our contact was really poor. So when we did have the ball, we didn't have a whole heap of energy to do something with it.

"The try on halftime was a big thing for us. Going in 14-0 was going to be tough, but going in 14-6, we turned things around, we were always going to be a chance then."

Melbourne went on to claim their fourth straight win to start the season with three unanswered tries in the second half, the first of which was set up by a Cameron Smith 40/20 kick.

Long range tries to Cheyse Blair and Josh Addo-Carr sealed the victory, which also allowed Smith to equal Darren Lockyer's individual wins record of 237 in the NRL.

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