Wests Tigers were handed their third loss of the year today at Mount Smart Stadium, going down convincingly to the New Zealand Warriors 38-4 in Round 6 of the Holden Cup.
It was a dominant performance from the home side, despite both teams coming into the match on equal competition points.
The home side were first to post points in just the 5th minute of play, capitalising on some ad-lib football in the previous tackle with a nice backline shift to left winger Tomas Aoake who eventually crossed in the corner. Mafoa’aeata Hingano converted the tough conversion to give the Warriors a 6-0 lead.
The opening 15 minutes was spent primarily with the Warriors deep on the attack, however Wests Tigers’ defence held strong and withstood the early pressure.
The tide looked to have turned in the 22nd minute when Tyler Cassel hit a nice short ball under the posts and spun out of a tackle, only to have the ball stripped when trying to score.
It was a similar situation just minutes later for Mark McCormack who ran a good line on the right edge only to lose the ball over the line.
New Zealand marched their way back down the field and fullback Brad Abbey sliced his way through and gave a nice long ball to winger Paul Ulberg who strolled over in the right corner of the field. Hingano couldn’t convert from out wide but the Warriors held a 10-0 lead after 26 minutes.
Ulberg was at it again in the 31st minute, wrong-footing Wests Tigers winger Obed Kharwin from close-range for his second try of the game. Hingano landed the tough conversion from the sideline for a 16-0 lead.
The Warriors went into the break holding that 16-0 lead in what was a dominant display in the opening 40 minutes.
Wests Tigers got the ball back from the kick-off after Matt Woods found the sideline, putting early pressure on the Warriors defensive line. Despite two penalties, the visitors were unable to cross for their first try of the match as the Warriors forced an error.
A Warriors error coming out of their own half put the pressure back on the home side, with Wests Tigers eventually finding their over the try-line through a draw and pass move to Kharwin on the left wing. Eli Levido missed the conversion from touch, with New Zealand’s lead cut to 16-4 after 47 minutes.
New Zealand hit back in the 54th minute off the back of a strong run from their skipper Toafofa Sipley, with second rower Matiu Love-Henry taking advantage on the right edge with a four-pointer. The conversion was waved away but the Warriors were back to a 16-point buffer at 22-4.
Wests Tigers were well and truly on the back-foot with New Zealand winger Aoake crossing for his second try of the day in the 59th minute off the back of a looping cut-out pass. Another tough conversion was waved away for Hingano but his side held a 24-4 lead.
Aoake crossed for his third try of the match in the 71st minute, stepping his way past two defenders and planting the ball down acrobatically. Hingano slotted one from the sideline to extend the Warriors lead to 30-4.
Halfback Erin Clark made it look all too easy for the Warriors, catching the Wests Tigers defence napping in the 76th minute for an individual try. Hingano converted for the Warriors to make it 36-4.
Hingano put the icing on the cake with a penalty goal after the full time buzzer, with the full-time scoreline reading 38-4 in favour of the New Zealand Warriors.
Warriors 38 (Aoaoke 3, Ulberg 2, Love-Henry, Clark tries; Hingano 5 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 4 (Kharwin try)