Wests Tigers v Warriors: Five key points
The Tigers survived a huge comeback to deny the Warriors what would have been their first Round 1 win since 2009.
Home crowd gets Tigers home
The Tigers got their season underway with what turned out to be a gutsy 34-26 win over the Warriors, and coach Jason Taylor says the Campbelltown faithful got them over the line.
"It was a great atmosphere out there today. It was a really good crowd," Taylor said.
"The club worked really hard to get people to come and watch us play. That was massive out there today. I thought the crowd played a big part in getting the boys home."
The crowd of 10,917 were on their feet after a razzle-dazzle first-half from the hosts, but it was their parochial support in the dying stages when the game was on the line that mattered most to the players.
With two games each at Campbelltown and Leichhardt Oval in the opening seven rounds, Taylor hopes his side can use their passionate fans as motivation to get their season off to a flying start.
"We just want to thank them because we've got a Leichhardt Oval game coming up next week and we'd like to see it like that again."
Ben Henry's season could be over
If there's one player who deserves a bit of luck, it's Ben Henry. The Warriors forward missed most of 2013 and 2015 with ACL injuries, and looked to have dislocated his kneecap in what was his first game back in the NRL.
His coach Andrew McFadden was shattered after the game, telling reporters the latest injury would likely see him miss the entire 2016 season.
"It looks like it at this stage. It's not looking good. I'm shattered for him actually. It's very disappointing, so we'll wait and see," McFadden said.
Don't get used to expansive footy
Jason Taylor clearly enjoyed seeing his side's hard work pay off in the season-opening win, but was quick to point out that he'd rather see the Tigers win matches through their defence.
While his side conceded 22 points in a 19-minute second-half blitz, Taylor believes it was the work done in the opening and closing stages without the ball that got them over the line.
"It's still based on defence. Everything we do is still based on defence," Taylor said.
"And in the end what we did in defence in the last eight minutes, and what we did in the first 40 minutes, is what won us that game."
Taylor was thrilled with the courage shown by his team when the opposition were on the march, and said he was always confident that the Tigers would hold on.
"There wasn't at any stage where I thought we were gone but it got scary when you're leading like we did and they got within two," he said.
"But we showed a lot of character and I saw the group come together and grit their teeth. That's not easy to do when an opposition gets a roll like they had."
Interchange rules withstand the heat
The match might have been played in stifling early autumn conditions, but both teams were seemingly able to handle the heat.
Warriors skipper Ryan Hoffman said the hot and humid conditions were part of the game and didn't use it as an excuse for his side's eight-point loss.
"Both teams had the same eight interchanges," Hoffman said after the game.
"Obviously losing Benry (Ben Henry) in the first-half put a bit of pressure on it, but you know you saw blokes like Simon Mannering and Ben Matulino play some really big minutes. So if we need guys to play those big minutes they'll do it."
Tigers forwards deliver from the front
Aaron Woods admitted his side's defence through the middle wasn't good enough in the trials, but a frank discussion leading into the Round 1 clash against the Warriors inspired the team to lift.
The Tigers pack easily outpointed their bigger opposition, running for over 300 metres more than the Warriors in the opening 40 minutes.
"We spoke about it the last two weeks. We were pretty disappointed with ourselves in the trial against the Sharks. We thought they rolled our middle too much so the last couple of weeks we've been working really hard on that," the new skipper said.
Leading by example, Woods and fellow front-rower Tim Grant were exceptional in the opening exchanges, providing his playmakers with the time and space they needed to attack.
"We just wanted to get off the line. They're a big pack those Warriors boys, so if we could stop the roll on we'd be able to stop those guys out the back like Shaun Johnson, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke."