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Tigers begin post-Taylor era with NRL loss

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/03/2017 Matt Encarnacion

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

In an emotionally-charged day 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 speared Taylor on Monday after their round-three humiliation against Canberra.

The 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-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.

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.

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.

The Storm sealed their win with long-range tries to Cheyse Blair and Josh Addo-Carr.

It was an almost unrecognisable Melbourne outfit that started the match, putting themselves under pressure by failing to complete their opening four sets of the match.

And it was some of their most experienced heads that were among the culprits, with Cooper Cronk throwing passes to ground and Smith kicking straight into opposition players.

By the 10th minute mark, the Tigers had 15 plays inside the opposition 20 to zero, had a 5-0 advantage in the penalty count and over 65 per cent of the possession.

They finally turned the pressure into points when Moses shrugged off some flimsy defence in the 11th minute and Elijah Taylor latched onto a Brooks short ball not long afterwards.

The win marked Smith's 237th in the NRL, equalling Darren Lockyer's record for most individual victories.

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