Wests Tigers have gone down to the New Zealand Warriors 44-6 in their Round 2 Intrust Super Premiership NSW clash this afternoon at Leichhardt Oval.
Having lost five-eighth Jack Littlejohn to a training injury during the week, Wests Tigers struggled to build any ascendency in the opening 40 minutes due to a number of handling errors — heading into the half-time sheds down 20-0. And despite an improved second half effort from Paul Stringer’s side, it wasn’t enough to stop the momentum of the Warriors, who pulled away in the second half to record a dominant 38-point victory in the end.
After a tight opening start which saw both teams struggle to find any rhythm in the blistering heat, it was the Warriors who eventually opened the scoring in the 16th minute when Matt Allwood crashed over out wide off a short ball from Ata Hingano.
Hingano was unable to convert from the left wing, leaving the score at 4-0.
Wests Tigers should have taken the lead in the 21st minute when a break from Jeremy Marshall-King saw the playmaker in space, but his pass on the inside to Josh Drinkwater went to ground —10 metres out from the Warriors line with no defender in front of him.
That error would prove costly for the home side as the Warriors were able to work the ball down-field, and off the back of another error, cross for their second try in the 24th minute when hooker Jazz Tevaga darted over to make the score 10-0.
Warriors captain Ali Lauititi crashed over in the 33rd minute to extend the Warriors’ lead to 16-0 following Hingano’s conversion, with Wests Tigers desperate to get on the board before the break. However, their enthusiasm just before half-time put them even further behind, with Konrad Hurrell picked up a loose ball 20m out from his line before offloading to Viliami Kaveinga, who raced away to score in the corner and make it 20-0.
After losing Joel Edwards to injury in the opening set of the second half, Wests Tigers found themselves even further behind on the scoreboard in the 45th minute when Jonathan Wright put a kick in behind Peni for winger Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to score in the corner.
Hingano converted from the sideline to extend the visitors’ advantage to 26-0.
Allwood grabbed his second try in the 51st minute when he got on the outside of his man to break free down the left wing, before stepping back on the inside to get the ball down, despite the best efforts of Wests Tigers fullback Watson Heleta in the in-goal.
Another simple conversion for Hingano took the Warriors’ lead to 32-0.
Wests Tigers would finally get themselves on the scoreboard in the 59th minute through a wonderful piece of individual skill from young hooker Jacob Liddle.
Taking off from 60m out, Liddle beat both markers and then rounded the fullback to score under the posts, giving Drinkwater a simple conversion to reduce the Warriors’ margin to 32-6.
However, the visitors would quickly restore their 32-point advatage in the 62nd minute when Pat Sipley crashed over next to the posts to take the score out to 38-6.
Albert Vete would extend the Warriors’ lead even further in the 74th minute when he charged on to a good short ball, with Hingano’s conversion pushing the score to 44-6.
Despite a few late chances for the home side, that would be how the score remained at full-time, handing Wests Tigers their first loss of the 2016 Intrust Super Premiership season.
FULL TIME — New Zealand Warriors 44 (Allwood 2, Tevaga, Lauititi, Kaveinga, Nicoll-Klokstad, Sipley, Vete tries; Hingano 6/8 goals) def. Wests Tigers 6 (Liddle tries; Drinkwater 1/1 goals)