Wests Tigers NSW Cup side have suffered a 28-16 defeat today at the hands of the New Zealand Warriors in the Round 6 fixture at Mount Smart Stadium.
The loss sees the Warriors jump ahead of Wests Tigers on the competition ladder, as both sides came into the game on equal competition points.
Wests Tigers opened the scoring in the 10th minute with the Warriors defenders unable to handle a towering cross-field kick from Josh Drinkwater, as fullback Shannon McDonnell pounced on the ball just centimetres from the dead-ball line. Drinkwater missed the tough goal and it remained at 4-0.
Warriors five-eighth Api Pewhairangi did it all himself to strike back for the home side, throwing a massive dummy and stepping his way over for a four-pointer. The former Parramatta Eels playmaker then added the tough conversion to give his side a 6-4 lead after 21 minutes.
David Fusitua extended the Warriors lead in the 34th minute, reeling in a perfectly weighted grubber from Sam Cook on the right edge. Pewhairangi couldn’t add the conversion and the Warriors’ lead remained at 10-4.
New Zealand edged further in front through replacement hooker David Bhana, who barged his way over from dummy-half to score under the posts. Pewhairangi extended the margin to two converted tries as the buzzer sounded, with the Warriors going into the sheds with a 16-4 advantage.
With a wealth of possession to open the second half, Wests Tigers eventually struck back in the 52nd minute with good hands from both Tim Moltzen and Keith Lulia finding an unmarked Delouise Hoeter on the wing; who did well to finish the move. Drinkwater kicked the goal from the sideline and the Warriors lead was cut back to 16-10.
Miscommunication between Wests Tigers right edge defenders resulted in Warriors winger Jarrod Tua strolling over for a try in the 59th minute, with Pewhairangi’s conversion from touch extending the lead to 22-10.
New Zealand fullback Viliami Kaveinga showed great pace to beat two defenders and score in the right corner in the 63rd minute. Pewhairangi again made no mistake and the Warriors held a comfortable 28-10 lead over Wests Tigers.
Wests Tigers centre Chance Peni was taken from the field on a medicab in the 73rd minute of the match, with Warriors opposite Matthew Allwood placed on report for innocuous tackle.
From the ensuing penalty, Wests Tigers worked it up the field, with hooker Manaia Cherrington providing Brenden Santi with the perfect short-ball and the lock forward crossed for a try. Drinkwater converted with ease to make it 28-16 in favour of the Warriors with five minutes remaining.
However, Wests Tigers were unable to make a late charge in the match and the deficit remained at 12 points as the Warriors ran out 28-16 victors.
Warriors 28 (Pewhairangi, Kaveinga, Fusitua, Bhana, Tua tries; Pewhairangi 4 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 16 (McDonnell, Hoeter, Santi tries; Drinkwater 2 goals)