One of the best modern wingers to have ever laced on the boot and a fan favourite among many of the New Zealand Warriors faithful, today, it was all about Manu Vatuvei.
Playing in his 200th career NRL game, Vatuvei was cheered by the Warriors fans came onto the ground and it was a match to remember. He scored two tries in typical Vatuvei fashion – bullocking, barging runs – and the Warriors won the game 32-22 over a quality Wests Tigers outfit.
It was a 20-point burst over a fourteen minute period that set the win up for the Warriors, although the Tigers fought back well to make a fist of things.
Both sides produced some great attacking plays and showed defensive resolve, in what was a dogged affair overall.
Starting the season rather slowly, Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson blossomed and came into his own, producing some quality breaks and attacking opportunities to ignite the Warriors attack.
The game turned into a battle of the two centres, as Konrad Hurrell and Tim Simona came up against each other as attackers and defenders numerous times, both winning the battle at times.
To further complicate matters for the Tigers, they will face a nervous wait on Aaron Woods who was placed on report for a late shot in the second half.
At one point, the Tigers had momentum deluxe but the Warriors line held resolute and refused to crack, leaving the Tigers frustrated.
With the Tigers clawing their way back at one point, Warriors coach Andrew McFadden admits he felt the nerves.
Yeah we made it hard for ourselves at the end there,” McFadden said.
“You always get a little nervous there.”
Club halfback echoed his sentiments, but in a much clearer way.
“We certainly don’t make it easy for ourselves,” he said.
“We are scoring enough points, but those errors at key times could have put us in a really bad spot.
“It’s hard not to be nervous with a side like the Tigers.”
Despite the loss, Tigers coach Jason Taylor chose to look on the bright side and praised his team for the effort and resolve they showed throughout.
“That was a massive test for us tonight and there was a little period before half-time which we didn’t handle and are disappointed about, but across the course of the game the guys did really well,” he said.
“In the second half we did some great stuff. They were the better team, they weren’t the better team for 80 minutes though.”
Player of the Game:
3. Manu Vatuvei
2. Tim Simona
1. Chad Townsend
Warriors 30 (Vatuvei 2, Townsend, Lolohea, Johnson, Thompson tries; Johnson 4 goals) def. Wests Tigers 22 (Simona 2, Tedesco, Richards tries; Richards 3 goals) at Mt Smart Stadium. Crowd: 13,781. Half-time: 20-12. On report: Aaron Woods.