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It’s hard to come down off the emotional high and give some honest assessments of a wild golden point win over the Cowboys, but I’ll give it a nudge.

1 REECE WALSH: Absolutely one of the heroes, with his best moments coming on defence – which has been oft-maligned but is actually great and gutsy for his size. Almost denied Holmes, a superb effort to bring down Luki and some other fine efforts in cover and on his line. Didn’t chime in much in good ball but always pushing up looking for a chance and finished with 130 metres on 13 carries with five tackle-breaks. One dropped high ball but some good defusals. 7.5

2 EDWARD KOSI: Has been a non-factor in the opposition half in his two games since being recalled to first grade, but – most importantly – no balls-ups in either outing. Took some tough carries but not as busy as last week, finishing with just eight runs for 64 metres, but a couple of good clean-up moments when the game was on the line. Still feel he will be exposed if properly targeted (and he up against Daniel Tupou next week 😱) but so far, so good-ish. 6

3 JESSE ARTHARS: Man can this guy run a good line. Beautiful charge for the Warriors’ opening try and came pretty close to winning the game in regulation with some outstanding broken-play running. Ended up with 110 metres from 10 runs, a significant improvement involvement-wise. Very, very close to cementing that spot and already seems in sync with SJ. Some great defence, too, among 20 stops. 7.5

4 ADAM POMPEY: Oooooo…not great. Just nine runs for 62 metres from the biggest body in the Warriors’ back five, and a shockingly bad drop with five minutes to go that could/should have cost us the game. I’ll stick to my guns: on balance we are always going to be worse off week-to-week with AP in the line-up, particularly if it’s at centre. 5

5 MARCELO MONTOYA: I wish I could channel Marcelo’s feisty energy sometimes – he is 100% action. Some big defusals and big charges (12 runs for 112 metres), and should’ve been credited with one of the plays of the game for obliterating Hiku and forcing the mistake, but was instead farcically put on report. He makes it very hard not to love him. 7

6 CHANEL HARRIS-TAVITA: Best on ground for sure. Absolutely sensational in defence in the front-line and in cover, brilliant 40/20 in the lead-up to Curran’s vital try, served up a try-assist for Aitken’s equaliser and possibly saved the game with his kick clean-up desperation with a minute to go. Thriving alongside SJ, great signs – hope he re-signs. 8.5

7 SHAUN JOHNSON: A mixed bag before his match-winning strike. Beautiful try-assist followed by a couple of dud passes in quick succession, the latter effectively handing the Cowboys a try. Good idea with the intercepted third-tackle kick but poor execution and he has to take a good chunk of responsibility for the Warriors’ failure to build pressure at any stage. But then he won the game – and it always felt like he was going to get it done when it got down to the wire. 7

20 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE: A relief to get the news he was a late inclusion and he largely delivered, racking up 142 metres on 14 runs and 25 tackles without a miss. Sloppy effort in-goal to gift Drinkwater a try, but otherwise quality from a guy that it has to be assumed was less than a hundred but played 49 minutes at the coal-face. 7.5

9 WAYDE EGAN: The would-be captain played his least minutes of the season (58) but they arguably looked better while he was out there, despite his interchange’s highlights. The dummy-half boost he provided when he returned near the hour mark was quite apparent and did some excellent lead-up work to Aitken’s try, plus provided the service for the avalanche of field goal attempts. 7

10 MATT LODGE: Not awful, but lacked the usual impact, presence and work-rate – particularly when the Cowboys rumbled the Warriors through the middle in the first half. Nine runs for 76 metres and 20 tackles don’t read very well for a player like Lodge in 51 minutes. 5.5

11 EUAN AITKEN: The Auckland-shy workhorse played every minute and had a blinder as the only non-AFB Warriors forward to get into triple figures with the pill (13 runs for 133 metres) and including several outstanding defensive efforts among his 43 tackles, as well as scoring the last try of the game in outstanding style. Huge. 8

12 BAYLEY SIRONEN: Initially he was about as effective running off Johnson as trying to unlock a door with a key made of playdough. But came up with some important charges in the latter stages (finishing with nine runs for 72 metres) and peeled off 35 tackles in an hour on the park to no doubt retain a spot in Brown’s 17. 6

13 JOSH CURRAN: Horrific start defensively with two bad misses, the latter allowing Dearden to score the first try, but ended up with a game-high 52 tackles. Far less prominent with the ball than in in the first three rounds at lock, but his slick solo try late in the first half was a pivotal moment. 7

14 KODI NIKORIMA: Given 28 minutes at dummy-half after only an HIA cameo last week and made it count, using his speed and deception to dart over for a try just after halftime. Looked dangerous beforehand, too. Realistically, this is Kodi’s only role in this team when they’re at full-strength. 6.5

8 BUNTY AFOA: A dropped ball on halfway was a black mark, giving the Cowboys the possession to score their only try of the second half. But Bunty was otherwise strong and very hardworking in 36 minutes, offering plenty of punch with 99 metres from 10 carries and 28 tackles without a miss. Going good. 7

16 AARON PENE: Churned through 25 tackles in 38 minutes, but five runs was a bit disappointing after a week on the sidelines – certainly less eye-catching than his first couple of games for the club. Nothing bad, but. 5.5

17 JACK MURCHIE: Bent the line on the fringes with 66 metres from six runs and contributed 19 tackles in 35 minutes – relatively impressive in his first game since Round 23 last year. But man alive, is the Murch capable of catching more than 50 percent of his passes without a juggle? Heart in the mouth stuff. Good to see him back, though. 6



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