The Warriors broke their duck for 2022 with a hard-fought 16-12 win over Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on Friday night.
Both sides were desperate to kick-start their season after consecutive losses and it was the Warriors who held their nerve in a tryless second half.
The Tigers made a promising start when skipper James Tamou left Josh Curran in his wake and carried Reece Walsh over the line with him to give the home side a 6-0 lead.
Six minutes later the Warriors opened their account when a Chanel Harris-Tavita bomb was spilt by David Nofoaluma and Euan Aitken pounced to score.
The Tigers' problems under the high ball continued in the 26th minute when Daine Laurie leapt high and came up with thin air, allowing Adam Pompey to take the ball on the full and grab the Warriors' second try to make it 12-6.
A penalty goal to Reece Walsh extended the lead to 14-6 before Nofoaluma and Laurie took a measure of revenge in the shadows of half-time.
Tamou bursts through to score
Tigers five-eighth Jock Madden launched bomb and Nofoaluma knocked the ball back to Laurie who dished off to Zane Musgrove for a four-pointer and the half-time score was 14-12.
An offside penalty against Laurie close to the tryline gave Walsh the chance to knock over his second penalty goal and the Warriors led 16-12.
Laurie then had a chance to draw the Tigers level when he chased a clever Luke Brooks grubbered and gathered the ball but lost it as he attempted to ground the ball.
Pompey times his jump perfectly
With 11 minutes to go the Warriors were reduced to 12 men when Marcelo Montoya was sin binned for holding Madden down too long but some poor handling by the Tigers saw them squander any chance they had of snatching a win.
Centre Oliver Gildart's wild flick pass to try and find Starford To'a in the final minute summed up another tough night for the Tigers, who have slumped to their first 0-3 start to a season since 2007.
Match: Wests Tigers v Warriors
Round 3 -
Venue: Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Sydney
- Warriors back-rower Eliesa Katoa left the field for a HIA in the 22nd minute which he passed and was able to return to the game. Five-eighth Chanel Harris-Tavita also underwent a HIA early in the second half and received the all clear.
- Tigers powerhouse Stefano Utoikamanu ran for 129 metres from 12 runs before being forced from the field midway through the second half with an ankle injury.
- The Warriors ventured outside Queensland for a match for the first time since round 17 last year.
- Englishman Oliver Gildart enjoyed his best game in Tigers colours with two line breaks, four tackle breaks and 201 running metres for the night.
- The Tigers are sure to ask some questions about the decision by match officials not to refer an attempted put-down by Luciano Leilua in the 20th minute when replays suggested the back-rower may have grounded the ball as he chased a kick.
- Tiger Jake Simpkin was put on report for a crusher tackle in the 52nd minute and Zane Musgrove followed soon after for a late tackle.
Play of the Game
With the Tigers on the march late in the first half it was Warriors fullback Reece Walsh coming up with a superb cover tackle on Starford To'a to deny the home side their third try. Centre Oliver Gildart made a long break for the Tigers and sent a flick pass to To'a who juggled the ball and then was crunched by Walsh just metres from the corner post.
An unreal finish to the first half
What They Said
"The way the boys competed... Reece [Walsh] is obviously a talented young player and everyone sees the try assists and that but his work off the ball tonight, especially in the defensive part of his game, was the best it's been since he's been here which was great, and I thought Bayley Sironen had his best game since he's been at the club." - Warriors coach Nathan Brown
"I had a committed team but we just didn't handle moments in the game the way we should have and unfortunately it got away on us. I've got a group down there who are hurting a fair bit at the moment because the amount of work they're putting in, they're not getting the rewards for it, but I do know if they continually stay at the things we are doing, the boys will start getting the right results."
- Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire
The Tigers travel to Cbus Super Stadium to open round four against the Titans. Kelma Tuilagi (head knock) and Ken Maumalo (ankle) are expected to be available for selection but Jackson Hastings still has two matches to serve on his suspension.
The Warriors make their first appearance for 2022 at their home away from home, Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe, when they host the Broncos. Shaun Johnson's return from a pectoral injury shouldn't be too far away while Ash Taylor (hip) is expected to be available.