NRL: Wild win for the Warriors

By Michael Burgess in Wellington

Warriors players celebrate the third try of Glen Fisiiahi during the round four NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Wests Tigers. Photo / Getty Images.
Warriors players celebrate the third try of Glen Fisiiahi during the round four NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Wests Tigers. Photo / Getty Images.

Warriors 42
Tigers 18

Finally, the Warriors deal out some capital punishment.

The Auckland club have notched up their first win in Wellington, with a 42-18 drubbing of the Tigers.

It was an incredible result, not least as the Tigers dominated the first 30 minutes and led 12-0 late in the first half.

Glen Fisiiahi scored four tries while Shaun Johnson finished off one of the best team tries of the season as the Warriors scored eight tries to three.

Like last week Jacob Lillyman and Sione Lousi again stood out up front, while Thomas Leuluai made a welcome return from injury.

The Tigers lost James Tedesco in the first half- who had been one of their standout performers in the first three rounds - through injury - and Pat Richards struggled once moved to fullback, while Jerome Ropati also exited the match early in the first spell.

These two sides had been evenly matched over the years, with their matches split 11-11 before this game. This, their first clash on New Zealand soil since 2011, was also notable for the absence of Benji Marshall, who had often proved the difference in these matches over the years.

Last night was also about proving they can perform outside Mt Smart. Their record away from Penrose had been dreadful (just two wins from 16 games) and they had never won in the capital (though they had managed a miraculous draw against the Bulldogs in 2001 and went close against the same opposition last year).

The Warriors survived early scares in the first five minutes, when Braith Anasta almost forced the ball after Manu Vatuvei was caught in two minds in his own in goal, then winger David Nofoaluma grounded the ball fractionally short of the try line. Both attempts were turned down by the video referee, though the decisions were marginal and may have been different at Leichhardt Oval.

Jayson Bukuya then had a possible try ruled out, before the Tigers began to take control of the first half. They took a deserved lead through an Anasta try in the 19th minute, though the way the NRL veteran was able to beat three Warriors close to the ruck represented poor defence.

James Tedesco extended the Tigers' lead six minute later, taking advantage of hesitation by Sam Tomkins to plant the ball millimetres before the deadball line. It was poor judgement by Tomkins, who should have learnt from Vatuvei's mistake earlier in the match.

The Warriors were rocked, but worked their way back into the game and Tomkins made amends with a beautiful touch for the Warriors' first try. After the ball was spread across the backline, Tomkins flicked it on in a flash before Fisiiahi finished in the corner. Fisiiahi scored again three minutes later (matching his first half brace in Wellington last year) before the Warriors scored one of the tries of the season right on the half-time hooter.

On the last play of the half, it started with Hurrell bursting through the Tigers defence 30 metres out from his own line. The ball was found its way to Nathan Friend, whose intelligent kick to the corner was eventually forced by Johnson.

The game was blown open early in the second half, with tries to Fisiiahi (43rd minute) and Manu Vatuvei (46th minute), both coming when the Tigers failed to deal with Warriors kicks.

Robbie Farah brought the Warriors back into the match with a strong touchdown with 22 minutes on the clock. There were nervous moments, as the Tigers closed to within eight points and had further chances but a Jayson Bukuya try in the 70th minute (after a Richards fumble) made the game safe. Tomkins then topped up the celebrations with a solo try (74th minute) before Fisiiahi scored his fourth late on.

Warriors 42 (G. Fisiiahi 4, S. Johnson, M. Vatuvei, J. Bakuya, S. Tomkins tries; S. Johnson 5 goals)
Tigers 18 (B. Anasta, J. Tedesco, R. Farah tries; P. Richards 3 goals)
Halftime: 14-12

- Herald on Sunday

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