The talk before the game centred around Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall and his final game for the club at Leichhardt Oval, with the departing stalwart keen to get his side the win – though by the end of the game, that was not to be.
Instead, it was a second-half spectacle by New Zealand Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson that stole the show, with the talented half scoring twice, setting tries up and wreaking havoc for the Tigers.
In what was quite a lacklustre first-half for the Warriors, that was not the case for the Tigers, who burst out of the blocks and were looking like the better side heading into the break.
In rugby league, however, as the old adage goes, ‘it’s a game of two halves’ and that showed, as the fortunes were reversed and the Warriors had the momentum and early running, whilst the Tigers looked flat.
With the final score finishing up 24-14 to the Warriors, it was not all doom and gloom for the Tigers, with young and recently re-signed winger Tim Simona scoring one of the best individual tries of the season.
Receiving the ball in his own half, Simona saw a gap in the defensive line and exploited it with ease as he burst through the line, before racing down the field and kicking back infield electronic cigarette supplier china for himself, to then beat the Warriors fullback to the ball and ground it – capping off a remarkable solo effort.
Their was praise galore from Warriors coach Matt Elliott, who dished out the kudos to halfback Shaun Johnson and veteran hooker Nathan Friend, for acting as the side’s glue when they needed it.
“Shaun’s second-half performance, in particular, was really pivotal,” he said.
“Shaun obviously came up with some pretty striking plays and I’m over the moon for him.
“He’s starting to learn that the more responsibility he takes on, the better he plays.”
Knowing full well that Marshall is departing at season’s end, Tigers back-rower Liam Fulton refused to use any of that as an excuse for his side’s loss.
“He probably didn’t know how the crowd were going to react to him,” Fulton said.
“He was probably pretty emotional during the week, but we got on with the job and that probably wasn’t the reason we lost.
“I thought he went alright.”
With a mathematical hope of still making the finals, despite tonight’s loss, the belief of reaching that mark is still alive at the Tigers.
“I know it’s getting harder, but we’re still positive,” he said.
“We’re still putting in each week and we still think we’re a chance.”
3. Shaun Johnson
2. Tim Simona
1. Sam Rapira