Warriors v Wests Tigers: Five key points
A late point-scoring blitz saw the Wests Tigers produce a stunning comeback victory over the Warriors on Sunday afternoon, which kept their finals hopes alive and dashed those of the Kiwi side. Here are five key points from the clash at Mt Smart Stadium.
Tigers 'just kept coming'
Behind 18-12 at half-time and 24-18 with 10 minutes to go, the Tigers rallied to produce a stunning finish which the Warriors had no answers for.
It was a gutsy showing on the road, and post-match coach Jason Taylor applauded the relentless attitude his side displayed.
"The biggest thing was the way our forward pack just kept fighting, there was a period 20 minutes or so into the second half where both teams were out on their feet and we just kept coming, we just kept coming," Taylor said.
"That is how you win a big game, it's not doing the stuff when it feels good, it's doing it when you feel like you can't take another step, but still taking that step."
The Tigers restricted the Warriors to four tries across the 80 minutes, despite the Kiwi side making eight line breaks.
Individual plays lift team
There can be no doubting the Wests Tigers' victory came down to a team effort, but along the way they were helped by some special solo plays.
With Warriors centre Solomone Kata almost certain to score in the final two minutes of the first half, opposite number Kevin Naiqama produced a last-ditch punch on the ball to deny the try, while in the second period young playmakers Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks both stood up.
In particular a 40/20 off the boot of Brooks with 11 minutes to go appeared to lift the Tigers, and from that point they scored three tries to secure the win.
"I just thought the way that our halves controlled the game late was really good," Taylor said.
"We had a number of absolute key moments in the game that meant that we were able to win that game.
"'Kevvie' (Naiqama) punching that ball out, 'Brooksy's' 40/20, Brooksy also made a try-saving tackle over in the corner.
"There was some never-say-die stuff from the guys."
No-try calls hurt, but didn't kill
On a night when they lost by 12 points, the Warriors' two disallowed tries were a hot talking point after the match.
On both occasions the Kiwi side were denied after the NRL Bunker ruled obstruction had taken place in the lead up to tries in the 39th and 67th minutes, but McFadden said while he disagreed with the decisions they couldn't be used as an excuse.
"I am certainly not going to put down the loss to that, I felt like we had more than enough opportunities in the game, we just weren't tidy enough with own game to win," McFadden said.
"They (the no try decisions) didn't help, to me there are some real issues around that, both those tries if you play them in live motion, they are just not obstructions."
Eleventh-hour drama put to the side
From the outside all appeared normal for the Tigers as they prepared for the Round 25 clash, but inside camp there were genuine concerns around even being able to field 17 players.
With Kyle Lovett (sickness) a withdrawal shortly after arriving in Auckland, the Tigers called on 18th man Michael Chee Kam, only for Curtis Sironen to fall ill hours before kick off.
After the game Taylor revealed details of the drama.
"We did it against the odds today, we had two guys come down with sickness over the last 24 hours," Taylor said.
"We had 18 [players after losing Lovett] which was great, so that brought Michael Chee Kam into the team and then this morning Curtis Sironen woke up early and was vomiting.
"We put him on the bench and you might have noticed we only used him for the last eight minutes or so.
"We basically played that game with 16 men, so it's a great win."
Warriors their own worst enemy once again
The NRL Telstra Premiership is a tough competition at the best of times, but when you shoot yourself in the foot it's almost impossible to taste success.
While the Tigers seemed to rise to the occasion individually on Sunday, the Warriors floundered.
A loose carry from Kata cost them what was an almost certain try right on half-time, while in the final 10 minutes a dropped bomb from David Fusitu'a and an uncontested bomb aimed at Manu Vatuvei, cost the Kiwi side points and allowed the Tigers to get out of jail.
Captain Ryan Hoffman was blunt in his post-match appraisal.
"I just felt once again like we beat ourselves," he said.
"We have had the right information and the right preparation all year, it just came down to individual executions and efforts.
"We are just shattered, we had the opportunity and didn't want to grab it with both hands, very, very disappointing."