An Adam Doueihi masterclass has helped Wests Tigers deliver a much-needed response for Michael Maguire, claiming an 16-8 win over St George Illawarra.
A week after Maguire’s future as coach was thrown into the spotlight, the Tigers were far gutsier as they fought their way to just their second win of the year in Wollongong.
It came on a painful afternoon for the Dragons, with centre Zac Lomax’s NSW State of Origin hopes placed in doubt with a suspected broken thumb.
But there was no such disappointment for the Tigers, who had not won since round three before Sunday.
After they trailed 8-4 at halftime, Maguire’s men dominated the second half with 67 per cent possession as they spent most of it camped on the Dragons’ line.
Debutant winger Zac Cini scored his first try in front of around 100 of his own fans in the corner, while Joey Leilua also crossed late.
The Tigers were still far from great, but Doueihi was phenomenal.
After the worst game of his year last week, the five-eighth put three players through holes for linebreaks as he also busted through three tackles himself.
The No.6 kicked across field for the Tigers’ first to Tommy Talau, and forced an error with a grubber kick in the lead-up to one of the team’s second-half tries.
Daine Laurie was also threatening at fullback, busting through the line to put the Tigers on the attack for their first and throwing the last ball for Cini’s points.
The only people riding the rollercoaster harder than Maguire were Cini’s fans in the Southern Stand.
The group shot to life straight after halftime when the 20-year-old appeared to have scored his first try, only for the bunker to overrule.
But five minutes later some of them were up dancing shirtless again, when the Minchinbury junior crossed to send the Tigers further in front.
The Dragons were their own worst enemy in their third straight loss, lacking any real cohesion in attack.
They completed at just 75 per cent, and had only 18 play-the-balls in the Tigers’ half in the second half.
Making matters worse, winger Cody Ramsey also suffered an apparent rib injury with Mikaele Ravalawa and Jordan Pereira still both suspended next week.
Forward Kaide Ellis also ended up on report late for making contact with Talau’s head with his leg.
Warriors post gritty win over Cowboys
The Warriors have withstood a fierce second-half fightback from North Queensland to regain their place in the NRL’s top eight with a thrilling 24-20 win over the Cowboys at Central Coast Stadium.
The victory not only reignited the Warriors’ finals hopes, taking them from 12th to seventh on the ladder, but it also burst North Queensland’s bubble after three straight wins and reminded Cowboys coach Todd Payten just what he walked out on.
In his first meeting with the Warriors since heading north at the end of last season, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Kodi Nikorima put the Cowboys to the sword with a first-half masterclass.
The Warriors, still calling Australia home after more than a year shut out from playing in New Zealand because of the global pandemic, honoured their families in an emotional tribute before kick-off on Sunday.
The gesture clearly stirred the league’s most mercurial line-up into action, with the Warriors intent on putting on a show from the get-go.
Nikorima and Tuivasa-Sheck cut to the Cowboys to pieces, featuring in the game’s first three tries as the Warriors raced to an 18-0 lead in as many minutes.
Nikorima bagged the opening four-pointer following some typically dazzling footwork from Tuivasa-Sheck, who then beat two defenders to put Rocco Berry over shortly after.
When Ben Murdoch-Masila touched down after Nikorima burst through the middle, suddenly the Cowboys found themselves trailing by 18 points for the second week running.
Then by 20 after Adam Pompey crossed on the stroke of halftime to give the Warriors a 24-4 buffer.
But the lead didn’t look enough after a second-half double from Murray Taulagi plus Scott Drinkwater’s 48th-minute effort that reduced the deficit to just four points with 12 minutes remaining.
Alas, Payten’s men were unable to replicate their stunning comeback win from 18 points down against Canberra last week as the Warriors held on for only their second win from their past five starts.