Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire was left fuming in the viewing box following an “inexcusable” blunder during Sunday afternoon’s match against the St George Illawarra Dragons.
Twenty minutes into the round eight clash at Wollongong’s WIN Stadium, the Tigers were awarded a scrum 30 metres out from their own tryline, trailing by six points.
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Tigers youngster Jake Simpkin retrieved the footy from the back of the scrum and passed it across to teammate Joseph Leilua.
But the referees quickly called the blatant forward pass, gifting the Dragons a set of six in their forward half.
Cameras panned towards a fuming Maguire, who needless to say was not impressed with the schoolboy error.
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“That’s inexcusable, that’s terrible,” former Cronulla star Michael Ennis told Fox League.
“That’s a metre forward … both parties to blame. Joey Leilua overrunning the football, but Simpkin had enough time to keep that one in his hands.
“This just gives the Dragons a great opportunity.”
The mistake was quickly rectified when Tigers centre Tommy Talau dived over in the 23rd minute to even the scores at 6-6.
Simpkin has played three games for the Tigers since making his NRL debut last month — he started the 2021 season representing Western Suburbs in the New South Wales Cup.
Leilua was demoted to reserve grade earlier this season after the Tigers suffered consecutive heavy defeats.
Dragons five-eighth Corey Norman kicked a penalty goal in the 28th minute to give the hosts a narrow two-point lead at halftime.
Earlier in the first half, Dragons centre Zac Lomax went off the field with a suspected broken thumb.
After the break, Leilua redeemed himself by bursting through a tackle on the left wing and scoring a decisive try in the 65th minute.
The Tigers ultimately secured a 16-8 victory, their second win of the season to date.