Warriors edge Tigers in Vatuvei's 200th
A two-try effort from Manu Vatuvei in his 200th game lifted the Warriors to a 32-22 victory over the Wests Tigers at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night.
Tries in the 16th and 70th minute from 'The Beast' did much of the damage as the New Zealand side improved their record to 3-3 for 2015.
A 20-point run between the 16th and 30th minutes for the Warriors ensured the Tigers were always up against it, and despite a spirited defensive effort on the night Jason Taylor's men fell just short of a valuable away victory.
The Warriors' attack was much improved, thanks largely to halfback Shaun Johnson who terrorised the opposition with dangerous runs on several occasions.
It was the Tigers who made the stronger start, leading 6-0 inside 10 minutes thanks to a Tim Simona try and Pat Richards' conversion.
But the Warriors' reply was an emphatic one, running in four straight tries to establish a healthy lead on the half-hour mark.
First Vatuvei gave the 13,781 strong crowd just what they wanted with a characteristic storming touch down in the corner, before Chad Townsend and Tuimoala Lolohea went over in quick succession.
When Johnson finished off a neat wrap-around play to score his first try of the year on the half hour the Warriors looked to be doing the job with ease.
But with some much-needed possession the Tigers managed to hit back through fullback James Tedesco, who blitzed Townsend with pure speed to double the visitors' tally.
The New Zealanders took a 20-12 lead to the break.
He may have been marking up on arguably the Telstra Premiership's most powerful centre in Konrad Hurrell, but Simona showed he wasn't going to be outdone when he shoved away would-be tackles from Hurrell and Lolohea to go over for his second.
Try as they may the Warriors couldn't find a way through the stout Tigers' defence, as the visitors repelled consecutive sets backed up against their own line.
In the end it took another special effort from the milestone man Vatuvei, followed by a Johnson conversion, to get the Kiwi side home safe.
Former Tigers back-rower Bodene Thompson capped things off for the hosts two minutes from time to stretch the lead to 32-22.
The Warriors now prepare for a gruelling away trip to Townsville, while the Tigers will have a nervous wait ahead of hosting the Raiders on Sunday afternoon after Aaron Woods was placed on report for a late shot on Townsend in the 58th minute.
Warriors 30 (Vatuvei 2, Townsend, Lolohea, Johnson, Thompson tries; Johnson 4 goals) def. Wests Tigers 22 (Simona 2, Tedesco, Richards tries; Richards 3 goals) at Mt Smart Stadium. Crowd: 13,781. Half-time: 20-12. On report: Aaron Woods.