TWL RD 8: SHAKY WARRIORS HANG ON AGAINST SURGING COWBOYS

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The Warriors dodged a bullet from North Queensland Cowboys’ six-shooter in Gosford, escaping with a 24-20 win after all but blowing a huge halftime lead.

The home side scorched to a 24-4 advantage at the break on the back of the attacking class of Kodi Nikorima, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Reece Walsh. But the second stanza was one-way traffic in the Cowboys’ direction as the mistake-addled Warriors looked set to enact a gut-wrenching collapse.

The Warriors hung on, however, to get the result in a thoroughly unenjoyable second half.

Despite some dusty moments, Walsh’s mouth-watering talent was again on full display, making breaks and setting up tries and generally dazzling with his combination of confidence and ability.

The Warriors struck first in the seventh minute, Nikorima slicing through for a 25-metre solo try on the back of some RTS second-phase.

The pair combined seven minutes later, this time Tuivasa-Sheck pouring through a gap off a Nikorima pass before finding 19-year-old centre Rocco Berry for his first NRL try in just his second game.

Adlib play on the last tackle netted the Warriors’ third try – and again Nikorima was the catalyst. Picking up a loose ball near halfway, the halfback burst into the clear and linked with Reece Walsh, who showed tremendous footwork and composure to put Ben Murdoch-Masila over with a slick flick pass.

Eighteen-nil in almost even time.

The Warriors slipped into a flat patch characterised by pedestrian attack and the Cowboys landed on the scoreboard. Impressive hooker Reece Robson hoodwinked marker Jazz Tevaga – who had given up possession only a minute earlier with an unnecessary offload – to dive in.

But the hosts delivered a hammer blow a minute out from the break.

Walsh served up a deft short ball to Josh Curran, who offloaded brilliantly for Adam Pompey and the strapping centre breezed past Valentine Holmes for his fourth try in six 2021 appearances.

But the Cowboys turned the game on its head with an attacking flurry early in the second half.

Winger Murray Tuilagi latched onto a Scott Drinkwater grubber for a try before outstripping debutant opponent Edward Kosi in the ensuing set to return the favour for Drinkwater, who scored under the posts.

Walsh conjured a scintillating 50-metre try for Ken Maumalo by running the ball on the last, only for it to be scrubbed out by the Bunker due to the ball coming off Curran’s shoulder in the lead-up.

The 18-year-old wunderkind tore the Cowboys to ribbons on another occasion but lost his footing and subsequently the footy.

The Cowboys set up a nerve-shredding final period with a beautifully worked move down the Warriors’ shaky right-edge defence, Tualagi again the beneficiary as he strolled over after Kosi jammed in.

The Warriors did seemingly everything possible to hand the Cowboys gift-wrapped opportunities to steal the win. But they somehow survived with a combination of desperate defence, dumb luck and their opponents’ incompetence.

Two points is two points, though, and the Warriors may look back on this nervy victory as a key moment in their 2021 campaign.

 

 

 

 

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