TWL RD 20: WARRIORS PLAYER RATINGS

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Marks out of 10 for the motley crew who got an unlikely win over Wests Tigers.

1 REECE WALSH: No real flashes of brilliance across the 80 minutes and had a tough first half on both sides of the ball, but looked better after the break, finished with five tackle-breaks and kicked soundly – as well as landed three-from-three off the tee. First game in the NRL that he didn’t finish with a try, try-assist or line-break. 6.5

2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK: Another big, hard-running effort from the mid-season recruit, who overcame being barrelled back into the in-goal early by racking up a team-high 180 metres from 20 runs. Continues to impress. 7.5

3 ADAM POMPEY: Solid contribution trucking the ball up with 15 runs for 124 metres, and came up with a couple of handy defusing moments on defence. One of his better showings of recent times. 6.5

18 VILIAMI VAILEA: Credited with three errors and came up with a glaring miss in Mbye’s try, but the teenaged debutant genuinely looks the goods. Athletic, skilful and a strong ball-runner (9 carries for 72 metres) – decent first outing and great signs for the future. 6

5 MARCELO MONTOYA: Unrecognisable from the player who last turned out from the Bulldogs. Rock-solid, reeled off 156 metres on 17 carries – always willing to take the tough ones – and came up with some good defensive plays. Now a genuine three-quarter-line contender with everyone available. 7.5

6 PETA HIKU (c): After three and a half months out, that was a hell of an effort in just his second NRL game at five-eighth and first as skipper. Kick-started the comeback with a glorious try-assist, had several nice touches and ran for 131 metres on 13 carries. Racked up 21 tackles, though missed eight. Should stay in the No.6 for the remaining five games of his Warriors tenure. 7

7 SEAN O’SULLIVAN: Just about as good as any Warrior tonight. Constantly involved, be it probing the line (15 runs for 97 metres), tackling himself to a standstill (28 stops, 2 misses), doing the lion’s share of the kicking and doing it very well, or testing the Tigers with his passing game. SOS stepped up. 7.5

8 JAMAYNE TAUNOA-BROWN: A defensive rock with 30 tackles and just one miss, but had just six hit-ups in 39 minutes. Solid, but not exactly the type of performance that is going to forge a spot in a full-strength Warriors 17. 6

9 TANIELA OTUKOLO: Looks very comfortable in first grade. Yet to really show his wares, but 28 tackles without a miss in 33 minutes on the park is a real good sign. Easing his way in, slick service at dummy-half and not overplaying his hand. Looks the goods. 6

10 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA: Shocking pass on the second tackle inside the Tigers’ 20 didn’t bode well early, but racked up eight hit-ups and 31 tackles in a hearty contribution up front as he tries to rediscover that early-season form. 6

4 EUAN AITKEN: The big individual story to come out of the win – has the ex-Dragons centre found a new home in the second-row? Certainly seemed to love it there, coming up with two great tries – the second a once-in-a-career type of deal – and finished with 17 runs for 153 metres and a huge 41 tackles. One of the best second-row displays by a Warrior this year and definitely Aitken’s best in the jersey so far…why move him? 8

11 ELIESA KATOA: Not quite to the resurgent level we’ve seen in recent weeks, but nonetheless solid with nine runs and 31 tackles. 6

12 BAYLEY SIRONEN: A workhorse with 14 runs for 109 metres and an equal-game-high 53 tackles. Seemed to thrive in the middle and did a bit of ball-playing, passing the ball more times (12) than any player not in the spine. 7.5

 

14 KODI NIKORIMA: Immediate impact and this clearly is the role for Kodi if he is to stay in the Warriors’ line-up. Some great dummy-half darts and good service, including a deft try-assist, though a defensive lapse soon after coming on and some abysmal passes in the latter stages tainted his performance. 6.5

15 BUNTY AFOA: Barrelled over for a crucial try, had 18 tackles without a miss and carted the ball up 11 times for 115 metres in one of his strongest displays of 2021, coinciding with one of his biggest allowances minutes-wise (40 minutes) this season from Brown. 7

16 KANE EVANS: On the field for 33 minutes and was decent with eight runs and 17 tackles. No wrist-tape snafus. No complaints. 6

17 JAZZ TEVAGA: Held back until the 53rd minute and showed what he thought of that slight, going off for 121 metres – the second-most of any Warriors forward – on 13 runs and making a genuine difference. 7

 

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