It was not pretty; in fact, it was downright ugly but the New Zealand Warriors have notched up their first win of 2022 after beating the Wests Tigers.
With both sides desperate to break their duck having started the season 0-2, it was a nervy win for the Warriors as they held on in a tryless second half.
It was a rare try for one of the Tigers five captains in James Tamou that opened the scoring, as he bustled through to score and put the Tigers ahead early.
The Warriors faithful did not have to wait long for their first try.
Off the trusty left boot of Chanel Harris-Tavita, the Tigers spilled a bomb, and Euan Aitken was there to pounce, scoop the ball up and dive over.
The Warriors would hit the lead for the first time on the back of a terrible misread from Tigers fullback Daine Laurie.
Laurie, who has traditionally been as safe as houses at the back, mistimed his jump from a high kick and Adam Pompey plucked the ball out of the sky to score.
The Warriors would go further ahead courtesy of a Reece Walsh goal to make 14-6.
Not to be outdone, the Tigers scored their second try and there was some redemption for Laurie.
Off a Jock Madden kick, the ball was batted back by David Nofoaluma to Laurie and he found Zane Musgrove to score.
The Warriors made the interesting decision to kick a penalty to go up 16-12 and they were the last two points scored.
Try as they might, neither side was able to trouble the scorers again as the Warriors recorded a crucial win.
The Tigers loss only puts further pressure on embattled coach Michael Maguire.
New Zealand Warriors 16 (Aitken, Pompey; Goals: Walsh 4) def. Tigers 12 (Tamou, Musgrove; Goals: Brooks 2).
Warriors coach Nathan Brown was pleased to get the win and was especially keen to give wraps to talented fullback Reece Walsh.
“The way the boys competed… Reece [Walsh] is obviously a talented young player and everyone sees the try assists and that but his work off the ball tonight,” Brown said.
“Especially in the defensive part of his game, was the best it’s been since he’s been here which was great.”
With his side now 0-3, Tigers coach Michael Maguire admits his side failed to stand up in the big moments.
“I had a committed team but we just didn’t handle moments in the game the way we should have and unfortunately it got away on us,” Maguire said.
I’ve got a group down there who are hurting a fair bit at the moment because of the amount of work they’re putting in, they’re not getting the rewards for it.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Euan Aitken (WAR)
2. Oliver Gildart (WST)
1. Jock Madden (WST)