Wests Tigers have suffered their heaviest defeat of the year tonight, going down 26-4 to the New Zealand Warriors in their Round 9 clash at Mount Smart Stadium.
It was an incredibly frustrating evening for Wests Tigers, who were forced to spend 20 minutes of the match shorthanded as some controversial decisions saw men sent to the sin-bin on two seperate instances.
The home side were able to make the most of their extra man advantage — scoring two tries during the time Wests Tigers were shorthanded — and proved too clinical in the end to emerge with victory.
Wests Tigers will look to get back on track when they take on the North Queensland Cowboys in their first Leichhardt Oval game of the season, where they also look set to welcome back co-captain Russell Packer.
Under pressure early on, Wests Tigers would eventually succumb to the Warriors' clinical right side attack after 10 minutes with a clever move from Shaun Johnson putting David Fusitu'a over in the corner.
Johnson backed up strong start with a classy sideline conversion to extend the hosts lead to 6-0.
The task was made much harder for Ivan Cleary's men shortly after a Roger Tuivasa-Sheck break led to David Nofoaluma being sin-binned for a professional foul. And despite the best efforts of the 12-man Wests Tigers in defence, the Warriors soon extended their lead on the opposite wing as a long ball from Blake Green found Ken Maumalo in space for the home side's second try of the evening.
This time, however, Johnson was unable to convert, leaving the score at 10-0 after 24 minutes.
With Nofoaluma still off the field, it was his opposite number in Mahe Fonua that produced a moment of magic to bring Wests Tigers back in to the contest — latching on to the end of a sweeping play to the left before acrobatically planting the ball down narrowly inside the line despite a mountain of pressure.
Marsters was unable to land his sideline conversion, leaving the hosts' lead at six points, before a late penalty goal in the half to Johnson saw the Warriors head in to the sheds leading by eight.
After 16 penalties across the board in the first half, the game was once again turned on its head when Elijah Taylor was controversially sent to the sin bin for what was deemed to be repeat infringements on the line.
Once again, it would prove to be a costly call by the officials, with Fusiut'a and Johnson combining on the right once again — this time the winger returning the favour for his halfback to score the try.
Johnson's pushed conversion from close range kept the scoreline at 16-4 with 30 minutes still remaining.
Karl Lawton would put the game beyond doubt with 13 minutes remaining when he found space on the inside of tired defenders to score next to the posts, before burrowing over from dummy half shortly after to blow the margin out even further.
With Johnson off the field injured, Kata's attempt at converting the try would sail wide, leaving the hosts with 26-4 victory and Wests Tigers with their third defeat in as many weeks.
New Zealand Warriors 26 (Lawton 2, Fusitu'a, Maumalo, Johnson tries; Johnson 3/5, Kata 0/1 goals) def. Wests Tigers 4 (Fonua tries; Marsters 0/1 goals) at Mount Smart Stadium