West Tigers 20
NZ Warriors 12
The New Zealand Warriors slumped to their second loss in the NRL tonight as a Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah-inspired Wests Tigers atoned for their own opening round woes with a controversial 20-12 victory at Leichhardt Oval tonight.
The Wests Tigers playmaker and captain both made crucial incisions to negate Krisnan Inu's contentious try on debut as one of the pre-season favourites finished a tense, error-strewn encounter emphatically.
Farah's 69 th minute dart under the posts, shortly after he had botched a restart by his own uprights, gave the Wests Tigers breathing space at 16-12 and then centre Chris Lawrence completed his double to ease a partisan crowd's anger after Inu's debatable touchdown with half an hour to go.
A high profile off-season acquisition from Parramatta, and surprise omission against his former club last weekend, Inu displayed exceptional ball skills in the 50th minute when collecting his grubber past marker Matt Utai and flinging a hopeful pass infield where Jerome Ropati set up a new attack close to the line.
Inu then feinted from dummy half and powered through the tackles of Wade McKinnon and Marshall to give the Warriors a precious 12-6 lead with half an hour remaining .
Television replays indicated the ball was out of play before Inu found his centre but the incident was soon forgotten as the Warriors capitulated in the final 10 minutes.
Inu's try was the second debatable scoring movement - in the 14th minute the Warriors appeare d to have been denied a try when on field match officials Tony Archer and Alan Shortall did not refer a potential touchdown to the video referee Chris Ward.
Shortall ruled a Lance Hohaia grubber to the in goal was forced by Blake Ayshford though the contact appeared minimal before Feleti Mateo pounced on the ball. Replays again cast doubt on the call although the Warriors players did not protest.
After a tough period of defence the Wests Tigers were also denied a try when making a rare foray out of their territory in the 21st minute when a Marshall pass to Ayshford was ruled forward before former Kiwis wing Utai crossed in the corner.
Inevitably it was Marshall who had a decisive hand in breaking the stalemate in the 35th minute of a scrappy encounter in greasy conditions when he picked up a pass at his bootlaces and recovered to put Lawrence on track to ghost through two defenders from 10 metres.
Marshall added the angled conversion but the Warriors struck back almost immediately when captain Simon Mannering barrelled over in the tackle of former Warriors fullback McKinnon giving Brett Seymour a relatively easy two points to level the scores at 6-6 at halftime.
Although McKinnon was powerless to stop the second rower he still showed glimpses of counter attacking form that made him a fan favourite in Auckland three seasons ago.
The Warriors, upset 24-16 at Eden Park last Saturday, were left to rue a high error rate - a deficiency they will have to remedy as there is no respite next weekend with premiers St George Illawarra headed for Mt Smart Stadium.
WESTS TIGERS 20 (C Lawrence 2 B Ayshford R Farah tries B Marshall 2 goals B Marshall field goal) bt NZ WARRIORS 12 (K Inu S Mannering tries B Seymour 2 goals B Seymour 2 field goals) at Leichhardt Oval. Referee: Tony Archer, Alan Shortall. Crowd: 13,161.