When Warriors fans look back on the 2020 indigenous round, they'll be reminded of the time the NRL bunker ruled in their team's favour.
The Warriors vs the Bunker has been a long-standing narrative, laced with complaints over questionable decisions against the club and subsequent apologies from the NRL. However, an overturned no-try call was the difference in the Warriors' 26-20 win over the Wests Tigers in Sydney tonight.
With the scores level at 14 midway through the second half, the Warriors moved it through the hands – from Kodi Nikorima on to Eliesa Katoa, who squeezed an offload out to Peta Hiku with room to move.
Hiku put the foot down and took on Tigers fullback Adam Doueihi, toeing the sideline before planting the ball. The on-field decision was no-try, but the bunker found Hiku had remained in the field of play, the try was given and the match was turned on its head.
To be fair to the NRL nomads, they deserved to be in the lead. The Tigers have shown through the 2020 season that they either win big, or struggle in a dogfight. From the opening whistle, the Warriors took the battle to the Tigers.
Some good work on defence in the opening sets was a promising sign for the Warriors, but when Roger Tuivasa-Sheck came up with an ugly play-the-ball inside his own 10m, the Tigers crossed rather easily through Moses Mbye. By the 15-minute mark, they had conceded two tries and things were beginning to look all too familiar.
But after an early mistake, Tuivasa-Sheck worked tirelessly to make up for it. The Warriors captain got involved numerous times in sets, working his way into the game up the middle on the back of Nikorima's running game.
An opportunistic try from hooker Karl Lawton, followed soon after by a penalty goal levelled the scores at eight, but the Warriors looked the better side after the opening 15 minutes.
Loan forward Jack Hetherington continued to show he's talented, and a player the Warriors should be enquiring about keeping long-term, with new additions George Jennings and Daniel Alvaro – the 29th and 30th players to feature in Warriors colours this season – did their job well in limited opportunities.
Looking set to go into the break level at halftime, three penalties in short succession - two crusher tackles from Adam Blair and Blake Green taking a kick chaser out – saw the Tigers cross again through Sam McIntyre to take a 14-8 halftime lead.
Out of the break, the Warriors were forced to defend under heavy pressure following an error from Green, but after a strong defensive set were able to again work the ball down field through strong carries across the park.
Hiku crossed the stripe off a strong solo run close to the line to level the scores, before bagging a second thanks to the bunker overturning the on-field call soon after.
When Tohu Harris crossed with ease to make it 26-14 with less than 20 minutes to play, the game was the Warriors' to lose.
Tigers winger Tommy Talau pulled it back to a six-point game in the final 10 minutes, but the Warriors held on for a deserved win.
Warriors 26 (Peta Hiku 2, Karl Lawton, Tohu Harris tries; Kodi Nikorima 4 cons, pen)
Tigers 20 (Moses Mbye, David Nofoaluma, Sam McIntyre, Tommy Talau tries; Benji Marshall con, Moses Mbye con)