TWL RD 21: WARRIORS PLAYER RATINGS

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Individual marks for a phenomenal team effort…but I know you’re just here for the Kane Evans appraisal.

1 REECE WALSH: Far from mistake-free and opposition defences are certainly better at combating his strengths, but the kid keeps on impressing under duress. Always pushing up around the ruck, probing, looking to put teammates through holes and generally bursting to take responsibility for his team’s fortunes with a pass, kick or run. Backed up to score a great try, had another line-break among a 156-metre return and spearheaded a key interchange of passes with Curran in the lead-up to the match-winning penalty. Also sound af at the back. 7.5

2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK: Blistering start – boy, what a sensational effort to stand up Mulitalo for the first try – and was a ball-carrying beast in the first half, aside from one hit-up error. Less prominent in the second half but finished with 155 metres on 12 carries. 7

3 PETA HIKU: Had his hands full with Jesse Ramien and missed a team-high seven tackles, but nothing too costly. Led the Warriors backs with 17 runs for 196 metres – colossal for a centre of the veteran, just-back-from-injury, not-massively-robust variety. A genuine big knock from a senior play. Genuinely sad he’s leaving. 7.5

4 VILIAMI VAILEA: By all accounts was given a crash course in rugby league psychology from Professor Will Chambers in just his second NRL game. Performed solidly and will be better for the experience; struggled at times defensively but never shirked his work and chewed off 122 metres from 13 runs. Has a Glen Fisiiahi style about him but yet to show the same game-ruining tendencies – I like what I see. 6.5

5 MARCELO MONTOYA: I’m not saying Marcelo will never let us down, but I am saying I was wrong to write him off as a dud signing – he’s been sensational in unexpected areas and today was a pertinent examples. Some absolutely magnificent under-pressure takes under the high ball were my highlight, but also had 17 runs for 129 metres, some elusive carries to ease pressure and good defensive plays. Keep it up. 7.5

6 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA: Great return from injury, playing a vital role in the win. Forced two key line dropouts with the boot amid a generally outstanding display as the lead kicker, came up with a massive one-on-one steal and ran and tackled as tough as ever. We refuse to count a last-second sin-binning against him. Welcome back, CHT – still the future. 7.5

7 SEAN O’SULLIVAN: What a gutsy little competitor. We baked SOS to a crisp after the Newcastle fiasco, but I’d go as far to say the Warriors wouldn’t have beaten the Tigers or Sharks if Kori or even Chad were in the No.7 in his place. Big play in DWZ’s try, was otherwise solid in a passing and kicking capacity, but the standout feature was his ankle-biting defence. Came up with 28 tackles – many of them very crucial – and just one miss. Big call to come for Brownie if Townsend were to be fit…I’d stick with the guy who’s now 4-4 starting at halfback for the Warriors. 7.5

8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE (c): Captain’s knock and a half. Racking up 17 runs for a game-high 222 metres, two offloads, a line-break and a near line-break assist for SOS, Fonua-Blake looked every cent of his big salary and every column inch of his pre-arrival hype. Hungry, skilful, great footwork, smart and instinctive, aggressive on both sides of the ball…potentially the best prop in the game and very exciting signs for the future. Given Tohu Harris’ suitability for the role and and injury problems, AFB is firming as potentially the Warriors’ long-term skipper. 8.5

9 JAZZ TEVAGA: Used almost exclusively at hooker – 39 of his 47 minutes of game-time – and looked good there, including several slick dummy-half darts. But also was dynamic in limited time in his preferred role as a middle forward – and it’s criminal he wasn’t put in there for recidivist offender Evans. 7

10 MATT LODGE: Another massive effort up front with 139 metres from a game-high 18 runs, a game-high six offloads and 23 tackles. Already seems super-invested and like a player who cares as much as any on the field about the result. Huge addition. 7.6

11 EUAN AITKEN: Your days as a centre are over for now. What a revelation – another barnstorming try from his back-row spot (although it was more of a classic centre’s try, beating Chambers and running away to score) and finished with 133 metres and 29 tackles in another big-hearted display. 7.5

12 JOSH CURRAN: Brownie has big faith in this enigmatic wrecking ball – and today was another example why. Went off for a game-high 42 tackles, a second-only-to-AFB-in-the-Warriors-pack 156 metres, six tackle-breaks and two excellent line-break assists – including a magnificent offload to send Walsh over for a try. Huge, huge, huge. 8

13 BAYLEY SIRONEN: A decent workhorse with six runs for 60 metres and 29 tackles with only one miss, plus a touch of ball-playing. 6

 

14 KODI NIKORIMA: Played 47 minutes at dummy-half and made just one run, but also gave very good service, probed a bit to give his runners space and good angles, and racked up 31 tackles with only two misses. He’s no the most well-rounded rake and this isn’t the time or the place to open up the debate…but do we actually miss Egan? 6.5

15 BUNTY AFOA: Definitely worthy of his place in the rotation, despite his limited 2021 minutes (after, it’s easy to forget, missing all of 2020) – had four runs for 45 metres and 23 tackles without a miss. And, you know, didn’t lose the plot… 6.5

16 KANE EVANS: Wowee, where to start. In his first seven-minute stint, coughed up the ball softly and compounded it by being painfully-easily baited by Will Chambers, throwing two jabs and getting binned. Came back on, made another bad handling error, gave away another penalty, then got binned again for head-slamming Chambers after the Warriors had clawed back to erode the scoreboard deficit he caused. Came back on and got penalised for a high-tackle. Got crunched with almost every carry after making himself a target (though still made 73 metres from 9 carries). The only saving grace for Evans was the Warriors won, but it was unmistakably diabolical, unbelievalbe and already-iconic. Perhaps the most astonishing aspect was Brown trotted him back out after both binnings; more phenomenal, still, will be if he ever gets picked in a Warriors 17 again. You came here looking for TWL‘s lowest-ever rating and you’ve got it – that was unequivocally the worst performance ever by a Warriors player by a player seemingly hellbent on leaving labelled the worst Warrior of all time. 1.5

17 ELIESA KATOA: Surprisingly given only 28 minutes, but looked very good and involved when out there. Four strong runs and 15 tackles without a miss. Certainly not a step back in what has been a real good resurgence out of ‘Second-year Syndrome’ territory for our back-rower basher. 6

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