Tigers spoil Pearce's NRL milestone party

·2-min read

The Wests Tigers have gained much-needed confidence after pulling off a remarkable 24-20 upset to end Newcastle's undefeated start to the NRL season and claim their first win.

A week after being belted 40-6 by Sydney Roosters, the Tigers toughed out an error-riddled win in front of a packed McDonald Jones Stadium.

The Knights were leading by two points before Tigers winger David Nofoaluma crossed untouched in the 74th minute, giving the Tigers hope their season isn't doomed as some feared after last week's loss.

After losses to the Roosters and Canberra to start the season, coach Michael Maguire said he was thrilled with the response.

"The last two weeks, the results didn't reflect who we are at times but the way the boys responded was pleasing," he said.

"We can be a much-improved team with what we saw out there today and that's the growth in the team."

While there were big celebrations for the Tigers, the last-ditch win spoiled the Knights' plans to remember Mitchell Pearce's 300th NRL game in style.

Replacement Knights winger Gehamat Shibasaki had a horror afternoon under the high ball with three errors, his last coughing up possession on the line for Nofoaluma's try.

It came just four minutes after the Knights had snatched the lead for the first time in the match.

The Tigers were leading convincingly 18-8 with 17 minutes to go when a comedy of errors handed possession back to the Knights and they roared back into the game.

First, Pearce raced into the clear from 20 metres out to score under the sticks with the Tigers then kicking the ball dead to start the next set.

Knights forward Tyson Frizell scored in the next set, but the comeback win wasn't to be, to the dismay of 20,239 fans in the stands.

Stand-in fullback Tex Hoy had a tough night under the high ball but redeemed himself slightly with a slick show-and-go for the Knights' first try 15 minutes in.

However, his three errors contributed to 18 overall for the Knights in a shocking show of poor ball control.

The Tigers made the most of the possession with Tommy Talau, Stefano Utoikamanu and Adam Doueihi also getting on the board for the win.

"It's frustrating. It was an important occasion for us," said Knights coach Adam O'Brien.

"We desperately wanted to make it a memorable day for Mitchell and I'm sure it still is for him, but you want to get the win for it.

"There are some young guys there, I don't like giving them an out but they're learning their craft."

The Knights are already missing several key players but are looking at further injury troubles with Jacob Saifiti coming off with a calf injury and Mitch Barnett battling through a leg complaint.