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The individual scores may not reflect what an inspirational, dominant performance it was overall for an ultra-committed collective, but there were nevertheless some barnstorming solo displays to unpick in the Kingz Container Crew Warriors Player Ratings after an unforgettable 36-14 victory in Canberra.

1 CHARNZE NICOLL-KLOKSTAD: Another monster display from the Warriors’ best buy in a very hot field. Ran for a game-high 194 metres (61 post-contact) with six tackle-breaks and was prominent at both ends of the field, cleaning up and defending superbly during the first-half barrage and scoring the go-ahead try after the break. Like last week, busy in a ball-playing role. An absolute rock who is increasingly showing more strings to his bow than we knew he had – hard to believe he struggled to get a game at the Raiders last year. 8.5

2 DALLIN WATENE-ZELEZNIAK: It’s unlikely we’ll ever get a perfect game from DWZ, but he’s finishing overwhelmingly on the positive side of the ledger each week with pieces of brilliance to complement his high-octane, maximum-effort displays. An error on the carry and a very dubious penalty when the Warriors were in possession in the first half were more than compensated for by a sensational aerial grab and put-down to score his side’s first try. Eleven runs for 79 metres was less output than we’re used to, but had a couple of line-breaks and held down his edge well defensively alongside a debutant centre. Samson-like, the more attention his spellbinding hair gets, the better he plays. 7.5

3 ALI LEIATAUA: A testing occasion to make your NRL debut in but passed with flying colours, outplaying milestone man Croker. Especially impressive in defence with 18 tackles (no misses) and showing excellent composure, including an outstanding take of a high ball near the Warriors’ line. Ran strongly for 81 metres on nine carries, made a line-break to come close to scoring and had a line-break assist. Could quite easily be considered the club’s top centre by the end of the season and become a red-hot favourite to line up alongside Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in 2024 if that’s his base level performance. 7.5

4 ADAM POMPEY: A bit quiet (eight runs for 63 metres, 13 tackles) but did nothing wrong and handled his assignment against danger-man Matt Timoko with few issues. A line-break assist courtesy of the shift that put Metcalf away down the sideline, but two errors. 6

5 MARCELO MONTOYA: The pick of the three-quarter line from a ball-carrying perspective, carting it up 15 times for 136 metres and making no mistakes under the high ball. Not much came his way on attack or defence. 6.5

6 LUKE METCALF: Improved again in his third outing for the club (and, it’s worth reminding ourselves, just his fifth run-on NRL appearance), with his greatest strength – running with the footy – coming to the fore. Sizzling sideline break led to Ale’s vital try, before steaming onto a Johnson pass to score and put the Warriors on course for victory, while he finished with a team-high seven tackle-breaks. Took a bit of the kicking responsibility on throughout and looked comfortable with the last-tackle duties while Johnson was off the field. 7

7 SHAUN JOHNSON: Not as near-flawless as he’s been at times in 2023, but owned the big moments as well as he has at any stage this year. Pinpoint kick for DWZ’s try, dug into the line to set up CNK to score, brilliant ball to send Metcalf over – after which he left the field with a nasty face knock – and made an unlikely return to spectacularly pluck an intercept try in the dying stages. Generally very sound kicking game and defensive showing. Crazy to think retirement is still an option – the Warriors should be trying to sign him up for another two years. 8.5

8 ADDIN FONUA-BLAKE: A big 46-minute shift before getting a rest, then came back on for another 18-minute stint as AFB continues to prove one of the NRL’s most durable props. Stood up to an imposing Raiders middle-forward contingent and ultimately finished top of the engine-room heap, churning through 180 metres (85 post-contact) on 16 runs and 31 tackles without a miss. Few have been better for the club this year. 8

9 WAYDE EGAN: A few glaring negatives – a forward pass that gave Raiders possession for their first try, and a bad fumble trying to pass from dummy-half and an awful ball SJ couldn’t handle early in the second half – but still finished well in the black. Again ran dangerously and astutely all night to consistently keep the hosts on their toes, while he dummied through for what was essentially the match-sealer in the 66th minute, his fifth of the year. Played the full 80 for just the third time this year and topped the Warriors’ tackle count with 48 for good measure. Close to man-of-the-match if not for the errors. 7.5

10 BUNTY AFOA: Another curious instalment of the riddle that is Bunty’s 2023 campaign, playing the first 14 minutes of the match and warming the bench until fulltime. The Warriors had hardly any ball during his time on the park so one run isn’t overly surprising, while he made 13 tackles in rapid succession. 5

11 JACKSON FORD: Three errors and a penalty was less than ideal though not exactly out of character, but was still a workhorse in 77 minutes with 34 tackles and 12 runs for 89 metres. Nice touch in the shift that put Metcalf away down the sideline. 7

12 MARATA NIUKORE: Finished the game in the sin-bin but hardworking and dangerous to that point. Had 11 runs for 91 metres – threatening on attack on several occasions – and made 30 tackles in an error-free (but unfortunately not penalty-free) outing. 7

13 TOHU HARRIS: Looked shot midway through the first half yet recovered to play all but six minutes in another lionhearted and silky captain’s knock. On top of 14 runs for 119 metres and a massive 44 tackles, served up a delectable pass for Ale’s crucial try (his third try-assist in his last seven games) among 22 passes as he continues to prove one of the best ball-playing forwards in the NRL. 8


14 BAYLEY SIRONEN: Came on for 22 minutes on the edge and (if I’m not mistaken) at centre after Leiataua went off, making three strong runs. 5.5

15 JOSH CURRAN: Just 26 minutes off the pine this week but made his impact felt with five runs for 46 metres and two offloads. 6

16 MITCH BARNETT: Another huge showing in just his second game back from a serious neck injury. His 56 minutes of game-time was interrupted by a sin-binning for a high shot, but was outstanding against the team he made his NRL debut for with 16 runs for 165 metres and 22 tackles. Tremendous impact and very much a key component of the Warriors side as they eye off the run home. 8

17 TOM ALE: Only 13 minutes on the field but certainly made the most of it after a bit of a step backwards with initially being dropped last week. Made six runs for 79 metres in his limited time on the park and stormed over for his maiden NRL try running a great line in what was a pivotal moment of the match. 7

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