NRL Rd 5 - Wests Tigers v Cowboys
NRL Rd 5 - Wests Tigers v Cowboys

‘Disgraceful’ Tigers booed off the field by Leichhardt fans

Members appreciation round turned into a furious fan forum at Leichhardt Oval when the crowd turned on the Wests Tigers, and then the referees, as years of frustration finally boiled over.

On Sunday, against a winless team that was there to be belted on an afternoon they were honouring a Western Suburbs legend, the Tigers were on the receiving end of a barrage of boos from fed up fans who watched their team put in one of the most pathetic 40 minutes in years, only to give them false hope with a stirring second-half fightback that was foiled by a crucial no-try ruling.

This was supposed to be a celebration of the life of Tommy Raudonikis. Instead, it was a horror show, with the fans venting their frustration as they watched their side play like defence was going out of fashion in the first half.

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"Do something, anything. This is disgraceful," one fan screamed, even throwing in a cattledog call to try to fire up the players at one point.

The Tigers chant is one of the most intimidating sounds in rugby league, but the ground announcer at Leichhardt found out there's a time and a place for everything.

When he screamed "Tigers", the crowd responded with boos. The players must have heard it, but even they wouldn't have been prepared for the tirade of taunts thrown at them as they ran back into the sheds at the break down 28-6.

"It hurt (to hear that)," a distraught Michael Maguire said.

"It's disappointing. Fans are riding this with us. It was a special day today so it was tough to take.

"It was there to be seen. It was poor. It's definitely not what the Wests Tigers are about.

"It's just not good enough."


The right edge of David Nofoaluma and James Roberts looked lost at sea as North Queensland raced in five first-half tries, only for things to turn around after the break.

The hosts raced in three tries in six minutes and looked to have had a fourth moments later, sparking thunderous cheers from the 9433 at the ground.

However, the officials had other ideas, correctly ruling Nofoaluma's effort out for obstruction, leading to boos that probably reached the Bunker in Eveleigh.

Tommy's time

Tommy Raudonikis would have been so disappointed to see the Wests Tigers fold in defence, but he would have been extremely proud to see their fighting spirit in the second half as they got within a whisker of pulling off the comeback of the year.

While their on-field effort was lacking, the club has to be applauded for the way in which they honoured a giant of the game who was and still is universally loved.

The Tigers retired the No.7 jersey in all grades, with the famous jumper draped over a chair on halfway in memory of the heroic halfback.

There were emotional scenes in the seventh minute when the crowd rose as one to deliver a stirring round of applause, with countless beers had on the hill - just as Tommy would have wanted.


Hammer time

They were barely sighted in the second half, but at least there were some positive signs in the first 40 for the Cowboys, including a stunning solo try to Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow that kicked off their scoring spree.

After receiving the ball deep in his own half, the speedster scooted down the sideline, rounded the defence and then chipped past Daine Laurie before grounding it for a special try that was worth more than four points.

"I'm just happy that we got away with it. That last 25 minutes seemed to go for a bloody long time," a relieved Todd Payten said.

"A good lesson for us is that if we play the right way, we can score points in the first half."



-Nick Wright

Cowboys livewire Scott Drinkwater has laid claim to the club's five-eighth jumper long-term, having spearheaded his side to their first win of the season.

However he and his teammates made the easy look difficult in a disastrous 20 minute passage in the second half, as old habits and psychological demons reared their heads.

Plenty of mystery surrounded North Queensland's long term halves pairing since the 2021 campaign began, and it only became murkier following Michael Morgan's injury-enforced retirement last week.

The off-contract Drinkwater, 23, began the year at fullback, and with Jake Clifford en-route to Newcastle, recruitment targets such as Adam Reynolds, Moses Mbye and Tom Dearden were thrown up as prospective saviours.

However Drinkwater has always maintained the number six jersey is where he felt he belonged, and he did his best to vindicate those claims in the 34-30 victory over the Tigers.

He finished with three try assists and a line break assist to go along with a freak try in the first half.


But Cowboys coach Todd Payten will have continued concerns for his side's mental resilience, as a surge of Tigers momentum out of the sheds threatened to completely tear down their 28-6 half-time lead.

Three tries in quick succession to David Nofoaluma, Luciano Leilua and Luke Garner brought the home side within eight points, before the Bunker controversially deprived them of another and the Cowboys marched down field as a result.

Fittingly, it was a Drinkwater bomb which created another opportunity, with Lachlan Burr crossing for his first try in Cowboys colours in what transpired as the decisive try.

However, even still the Tigers would not go away, with two more tries to Tommy Talau and Joe Ofahengaue bringing them within four points in the final minute of play.

After waiting more than four weeks to taste success, the hope for Pauyten will be that winning becomes a habit.

Originally published as 'Disgraceful' Tigers booed off the field by Leichhardt fans