Wests Tigers have suffered a 22-2 defeat to the New Zealand Warriors as the NRL returned to Mt Smart Stadium for the first time in three years.
Match: Warriors v Wests Tigers
Round 16 -
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Brett Kimmorley’s men fought bravely as the home side relentlessly attacked the line, but they were ultimately unable to overcome a 14-2 halftime deficit.
Wests Tigers were forced to put up an early defensive stand as an inspired Warriors outfit received four consecutive penalties and held onto 70% of possession through the first ten minutes.
Wayde Egan looked to have scored the only try of the opening twenty minutes, but it was disallowed by the Bunker as he was held up by some desperate defence.
Instead, the first points of the match came via the boot of Shaun Johnson after the home side’s fifth penalty of the first half.
Debutant Fonua Pole received his first taste of NRL action and was quick to make an impact with 17 tackles in his first 15 minutes before requiring a head injury assessment.
After 28 minutes, the visitors’ defence finally cracked under the overwhelming weight of possession as Tohu Harris barged over.
Chanel Harris-Tavita doubled the Warriors’ lead shortly after, receiving a fortunate bounce off the backside of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.
Wests Tigers’ only points of the afternoon came on the stroke of half-time as Adam Doueihi slotted his first goal of the year to cut the lead to twelve.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first forty minutes, with no points scored through twenty minutes of play.
Adam Doueihi looked to have earned a rare repeat set for his side with a well-placed bomb, but a knock-on from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak went unseen.
Instead, both teams continued to go set-for-set until the home side received a penalty and Shaun Johnson extended the Warriors’ lead to fourteen points.
Jesse Arthars then crossed to seal the victory for his side.
Despite the loss, there were several standout performances for Wests Tigers as Daine Laurie, David Nofoaluma, Starford To’a, Ken Maumalo and Jackson Hastings each ran for over 100 metres.
Up front, Joe Ofahengaue continued his rich vein of form with an impressive stat line that included 152 running metres and an incredible 58 tackles in the middle of the field.
Brett Kimmorley and his side will now turn their attention to a homecoming of their own as they return to Leichhardt next Saturday to host Parramatta.