TWL RD 3: WARRIORS V DRAGONS PLAYER RATINGS

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Can’t remember the last time it was so enjoyable to dish out digits to the Warriors – plenty of star showings in an 18-0 restart shutout of the Saints.

1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (c): Flat with worrying body language in the opening two rounds, RTS was back to his usual magnificent self. A mammoth game-high 284 metres with six tackle-breaks reflected his perpetual involvement and impact. It appears they have ditched the pre-season plan to ease the skipper’s load and save him to inject himself more selectively – and the 2017-19 status quo seems a better fit for both parties. 8.5

2 PATRICK HERBERT: The terrier-like Herbert has found a nice little home on the wing. He struggled for involvement as a rookie centre, but the new Dad racked up 154 metres and defused a number of tricky situations calmly. 7

3 PETA HIKU: Solid enough start before his afternoon ended just 26 minutes in with a rib injury. 5

4 GERARD BEALE: It’s no secret the TWL team were less than excited to see the likeable veteran back in the backline, but there’s no complaints here after 101 running metres and a mighty 27 tackles. It’s a timely reminder that a player of Beale’s qualities can be valuable if the rest of the team pulls their weight in the flash and creativity department. 7

5 KEN MAUMALO: Not quite the authority and impact we became accustomed to in 2019, but 274 metres – after racking less than that in the first two rounds combined – from a game-high 26 runs suggests Big Ken is back. Huge defensive play to deny a late Ravalawa try. 7.5

6 KODI NIKORIMA: Took the bull by the horns involvement-wise early on and put Katoa over for the Warriors’ second try. Forced out to the centres, Nikorima effectively wrapped up the result with a sizzling break and a brilliant dart to score on the next play. Arguably his best for the club. 8

7 BLAKE GREEN: Still a bit of a clunk and rust, but the elder statesman got better as the match wore on. His kick produced the first try, he had a key hand in the second and overall had a wonderful day in the kicking department. Great control. 7.5

13 ADAM BLAIR: Yes, that! The polarising 313-game stalwart unleashed the combined presence, authority and work-rate fans and critics have chastised for not coming up with since heading to Auckland. Blair was an inspiration, an enforcer and invaluable. Tallies of 122 metres and 29 tackles and all of it quality – if that’s the benchmark, we’ll welcome the taking up of his 2021 player option. 8

9 WAYDE EGAN: Still not convinced. A tally of 43 tackles is impressive, a running-metres count of 14 is not. Has an odd and unnecessary habit of dishing no-look passes at every opportunity. But otherwise sound direction and option-taking around the ruck, but still a ways from convincing us the side is better off with him in it given he’s essentially there at the expense of Chanel Harris-Tavita and Nate Roache. 6

10 JAMAYNE TAUNOA-BROWN: Great pick-up for his first NRL try in a strong opening stint. With 14 runs for 133 metres and 28 tackles, Yung Manie will be dropping bars in the starting line-up for some time to come. 7

17 ELIESA KATOA: What a prospect. Runs great lines – as evidenced by his maiden first-grade try – and troubled the Dragons all day, outshining some big reputations in the other team’s back-row with a massive 181 metres. Also pulled off a big try-saver among 29 defensive stops. The real deal and an early front-runner for Dally M Rookie of the Year honours. 8.5

12 TOHU HARRIS: After an early end to 2019 due to injury and a quiet start to this season, the ‘marquee’ glow around Tohu had faded somewhat. It’s back big-time after a hugely influential 80-minute display. Finished with a crazy 211 metres from 20 runs and a team-high 48 tackles. Just sensational. 9

11 ISAIAH PAPALI’I: Good toil from a tyro coming in for plenty of criticism from the fanbase, chalking up 121 metres and 36 tackles in a very solid performance. A stepping stone. 6.5

14 KARL LAWTON: Replaced Hiku, slotted in at five-eighth but played essentially as an extra roving back-rower. Looks to have put on a bit of bulk and it worked in his favour, reeling off 18 tackles without a miss and 95 metres from 10 runs in a strong showing. One of the best Mr. Fix-its going around. 7

15 KING VUNIYAYAWA: A different player from the butter-fingered, somewhat tentative rookie of the opening two rounds. Great intent and impact, running for 111 metres and making 22 tackles in 34 minutes off the pine to keep the likes of Josh Curran at bay for at least another week. Credit to King – we didn’t know he had that in him. 7

16 AGNATIUS PAASI: A solid return from injury, making 96 metres and 19 tackles in 28 minutes. May miss time for an ugly challenge on a Dragons kicker. 6

22 JACK MURCHIE: Good first hit-out for the 244th Warrior, making 63 hard-earned metres from seven runs and 18 minutes in 31 minutes. Some great defensive plays near his own line and has the size and mobility we’ve been crying out for. Made the first Warriors error of the match (five minutes from fulltime) but was otherwise impressive. 6.5

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