Four second-half tries from young Fijian winger Marika Koroibete helped Wests Tigers reel in Parramatta to record a 51-26 win in a 14-try NRL extravaganza at Campbelltown Stadium last night.
The 20-year-old, in only his second game for the Tigers, equalled a club record for tries scored in a single match and helped his team leapfrog the Gold Coast Titans into eighth spot on the ladder.
The cellar-dwelling Eels, who beat Melbourne and Brisbane in their previous two games, gave incoming coach Ricky Stuart plenty to be encouraged about for next season with four unanswered tries in the opening 17 minutes to lead the hosts 22-6.
Adam Blair had opened the scoring for the Tigers in the fifth minute, before Ben Roberts, Ken Sio and a brace from former Tiger Jake Mullaney silenced the home crowd.
Tim Sheens' side hit back with tries from Chris Heighington and Matt Utai just before the interval to close the gap to four points, but the Eels extended their lead from the opening set of the second half, when Taulima Tautai raced 60 metres to the line.
But it was a brilliant hit by Koroibete on Chris Sandow to prevent a certain try two minutes later that proved to be the game's turning point.
The enigmatic halfback, who once again impressed for the Eels, juggled the ball over his head as he latched onto his own kick and chase, only to be ironed out by a Koroibete bell ringer just a metre in front of the posts.
With Benji Marshall becoming more influential as the game progressed, the Tigers seized control and Utai added his second in the right corner, before Koroibete raced over for his first try.
He chalked up his second in the 56th minute, before Moltzen waltzed over for his ninth of the season to ice a vital victory.
Marshall kicked a late field-goal to add some gloss to the victory before Koroibete scored twice more in the final three minutes.
Sheens slammed his side's defence and said they have to improve in their final four games, where they face St George Illawarra, Canterbury, Sydney Roosters and Melbourne.
"It was pretty disappointing defensively," Sheens said. "We fell away in the first half and we have some work to do there if we're to beat the four teams we have to play.
Skipper Robbie Farah concurred, but said the second-half performance would give the side confidence going into the last month of the season.
"I guess we didn't want to tackle tonight and it was a good job they didn't either," Farah said of the Eels.
Caretaker coach Brad Arthur bemoaned Parramatta's second-half fade out.
"We put ourselves in a position to win the game, but we didn't, because we didn't want to tough it out in defence," Arthur said.
"We were happy to play footy, but right from the start, you could see our contact wasn't good enough."