The Wests Tigers’ finals ambitions have been dealt a big blow with young playmaker Luke Brooks picking up a knee injury in his side’s hard-fought 23-8 NRL win over Parramatta.
He picked up the injury early in the match on Saturday but valiantly attempted to play on, twice getting on-field treatment from the trainer before finishing out the half.
However, Brooks failed to come out of the sheds after the break, with coach Jason Taylor set to sweat on scans to determine the extent of the injury, and possibly their finals’ hopes.
But Brooks’ absence didn’t stop the Tigers going on to claim a vital two points against the Eels and edge closer to the top eight with just five games remaining in the regular season.
And although they remain in 10th spot, the Tigers join the 7th-placed Gold Coast, Penrith and the Warriors on 22 points ahead of next week’s clash with North Queensland.
In front of a crowd of 14,428 at ANZ Stadium, long-range tries to David Nofoaluma and James Tedesco in the space of two minutes whisked the Tigers to a 14-2 lead by the 13th minute.
Nofoaluma made the most of Mitchell Moses’ enterprising play in the 11th minute, before Tedesco finished off a clean Josh Aloiai break through the middle not long after.
Both four-pointers were symptomatic of an error-riddled but frenetic first half played from end to end.
Despite conceding the double setback, the Eels, one day after releasing troubled star Kieran Foran from his four-year contract, were rewarded for their effort with a 37th-minute try to Vai Toutai.
However, that was as close as the home side were able to get, with Moses twice nailing penalty goals in the second half before sealing the win in the 74th minute with a grubber for Sauaso Sue to score.
Moses, who took advantage of powerhouse games from forwards Aloiai, Chris Lawrence and Tim Grant, added salt in the wounds with a field goal three minutes later.
Fill-in five-eighth Clinton Gutherson and fullback Michael Gordon tried hard for the Eels, while Tepai Moeroa was the only forward to crack the 100-metre gained mark.