TWL RD 9: WARRIORS PLAYER RATINGS

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Two absolute standouts and a stack of duds in one of the Warriors’ worst-ever losses.

1 REECE WALSH: Firmly asserted his commitment to returning to NZ with the club for 2023 but I’m not sure the Warriors deserve him. Miles ahead of at least 15 of his teammates on a bleak afternoon, almost singlehandedly put his team in the lead with a superb try-assist and a dazzling break that set up another. Was the only Warriors attack who looked dangerous thereafter and made some sensational takes at the back, as well as being the only player besides the starting props to run for 100 metres. 8

2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK: Brilliant finish to score the Warriors’ first, had some strong carries among 13 runs for 91 metres and jammed in effectively on a couple of occasions. The damage as opposite Connor Tracey bagged a second-half double was largley done by the defenders inside him. 6.5

3 VILIAMI VAILEA: Needs some NRL minutes on the wing, because he is not up to it in the centres. Followed up nicely to dot down for the Warriors’ second but bombed what could have been a match-changing try just after halftime. Defensively awful with seven tackles and four misses plus three ineffective, including getting swatted by Ramien in the lead-up to the Sharks’ opening try. One decent run later on to take his tally to a modest 56 metres from eight carries, but clutching at his throat and giving up on the play as the Sharks ran in another jarring try in the dying minutes was not a good look. 3.5

4 ROCCO BERRY: Just doesn’t seem to get the game and making him learn on the NRL stage is doing him a disservice. Could have gone worse marking up on Talakai, who was relatively well contained, and made 21 tackles as the Sharks ran a lot of traffic his way. But Berry’s defensive misses and misreads were costly. Just eight runs for 59 metres, with one good second-half carry an exception to the pedestrian rule. 3.5

5 ADAM POMPEY: One of about four Warriors to emerge with their pre-game rep untarnished. Twelve runs for 99 metres, should have had a try-assist but for Vailea’s gaffe and was fairly sound on the defensive end. 6

6 DAEJARN ASI: Started with the poise and impetus that marked his club debut, highlighted by a very slick grubber for Vailea to score. Seemed to lose confidence as the Warriors imploded – which is hard to blame him for. 5.5

7 SHAUN JOHNSON: Given his role, experience and status, this had to be up there with SJ’s worst performances ever. Started the game by steamrolling Briton Nikora in the opening set, came up with a deft repeat set kick and had a lovely hand in DWZ’s try, but the rest was a trainwreck. Two errors and some defensive lapses with six misses (albeit among a heavy 25-tackle workload), but it the lack of leadership and direction, the aimless sideways attack, the options that put ill-equipped teammates under pressure and poor kicks when the Warriors needed to build pressure that saw Johnson’s day descend into disaster. Axe-worthy. 3

8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE (c): Churned through the work in 53 minutes on the park, though not as much as usual (10 runs for 104 metres, 24 tackles) and didn’t really step up in his second stint when the Warriors needed some traction and leadership. 5

9 WAYDE EGAN: Made a mammoth 52 tackles and a few decent darts. Didn’t do anything eye-catchingly bad or good. You’ll probably never have much chance of convincing me we’re getting anywhere near the value from Egan as the likes of Grant, Smith, Mahoney, Koroisau, Cook and Brailey (even Robson, Croker and Verrills) give their teams, despite being highly rated by the Warriors and some other smart people. 5

10 MATT LODGE: Played like a man possessed (or at least one that’s after a chunky contract). By far the Warriors’ most effective forward with 19 carries (eight more than any other forward teammate) for a team-high 139 metres. His tally of 23 tackles included a series of heat-seeking missle efforts, including multiple bell-ringers on Dale Finucane. Jumped the gun once to give away a penalty, but otherwise was an inspiration his cohorts failed to follow. 8

11 EUAN AITKEN: Worked his arse off for nine runs and 34 tackles before getting rubbed out of the game in the 53rd minute by Jesse Ramien. Would have been better off with Aitken remaining in the game and not enduring that demoralising shambles against 11 men. Gave away a penalty. 5.5

12 ELIESA KATOA: Be honest, would the Warriors be persevering with Katoa as a first-choice option if it wasn’t for his blockbusting peformances from the first half of his rookie year? Though his numbers of 11 runs for 90 metres and 33 tackles without a miss look good – particularly in such a poor team effort – he is more often than not an unthreatening battering ram with a paifully slow play-the-ball, without a shred of a dynamic impact he had in 2020. The tyro’s fumble after the Warriors’ second try was where it went sour for the team. 4.5

13 JAZZ TEVAGA: A titanic 52-tackle contribution was unfortunately ruined by two atrocious passes that forced turnovers at crucial junctures, and a high shot. Quiet on attack with seven runs for 52 metres. A win for his detractors and uncharacteristic of his 2022 form. 4

 

14 JACK MURCHIE: Replaced Aitken on the left edge and underlined why he almost certainly won’t be retained – next week or beyond 2022. Butchered a try when the Warriors had an overlap, fell off tackles and gave away a cheap penalty. 3.5

15 BEN MURDOCH-MASILA: Three good carries and 13 tackles in 18 minutes, but far from a tide-turning impact man. 4.5

16 BUNTY AFOA: The game changed when AFB and Lodge went off, and Bunty’s modest return of four runs for 29 metres in 28 minutes on the park help explain why. Hard to fault defensively but disappointing overall. 4.5

17 AARON PENE: Somewhat more impressive than Afoa in two stints totalling 33 minutes, carting the ball up seven times for 62 metres and making 24 tackles. 5.5

18 BAYLEY SIRONEN: Made history as the Warriors’ first 18th man replacement courtesy of the foul play that ended Aitken’s night and contributed four runs for 32 metres and 11 tackles without a miss in his 12 minutes of game-time – after confusion from the Warriors about his introduction. 5

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