New Zealand started strongly, cruising to 16-0 leaders with tries to Henderson, Fai and Fien in the first half, carving up the Tigers line with ease. The first half closed with just one Tigers try, Taniela Tuiaki scoring his first to bring some respectability to the scoreline.
The Tigers then dominated the second half for the most part, evening the score up at 16-all within the first part of the half, until the Warriors turned it all around, pushing out to 28-16. From here, most saw the Warriors as certainties, although a late double to Taniela Tuiaki completing his hat-trick brought Wests within two points, but a late Hodgson conversion attempt went wide and the Warriors held on to a much deserved victory, crushing the 15,027-strong Leichhardt crowd on the siren.
Both teams enjoy a bye next week, which neither have received since Round 9 - and a chance for both sides to recuperate after a tough rep period.
Wests Tigers 26 Tries: Taniela Tuiaki (3), Robbie Farah, Chris Lawrence Goals: Brett Hodgson (3/5) New Zealand Warriors 28 Tries: Ian Henderson, Sonny Fai, Nathan Fien, Lance Hohaia, Sam Rapira Goals: Lance Hohaia (2/3), Michael Witt (2/2)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Touch Judges: Steve Carrall, Michael Jones Video Referee: Steve Clark
TIGERS 1. Brett Hodgson, 2. Taniela Tuiaki, 3. Dean Collis, 4. Chris Lawrence, 5. Beau Ryan, 6. Benji Marshall, 7. Mathew Head, 8. Bronson Harrison, 9. Robbie Farah, 10. Bryce Gibbs, 11. Ben Te'o, 12. Chris Heighington, 13. Liam Fulton Reserves: 14. John Morris, 15. Dene Halatau, 17. Daine Laurie, 18. Ryan Tandy WARRIORS 1. Lance Hohaia, 2. Aidan Kirk, 3. Jerome Ropati, 4. Simon Mannering, 5. Malo Solomona, 18. Grant Rovelli, 7. Nathan Fien, 8. Ruben Wiki, 9. Ian Henderson, 10. Sam Rapira, 17. Sonny Fai, 12. Logan Swann, 13. Micheal Luck Reserves: 6. Michael Witt, 11. Ben Matulino, 15. Evarn Tuimavave, 16. Epalahame Lauaki
The wonderful Leichhardt Oval again looking close to capacity this afternoon where the Tigers are hosting the Warriors - a team still struggling for wins on the road. Proud Warriors prop Ruben Wiki will become the first New Zealand-born NRL player to play 300 first grade games, a sensational achievement in his 15 year career at the Raiders and now the Warriors.
Toyota Cup went to the Wests Tigers in an entertaining match by 45-34.
Team changes see the Warriors bring Rovelli on to start in jersey 18, Michael Witt will start off the bench. Mautlino and Sonny Fai trade places for Fai to start in the forward pack, while Patrick Ah Van drops off the bench. Just one change for the home side, Corey Payne omitted in jersey 16, Ryan Tandy is number 18 off the bench.
Ready for action at Leichhardt!
First half kickoff Warriors with first possession this afternoon.
1 min: PENALTY Warriors. Early field position for the visitors as the Tigers ill-discipline rears it's head early.
4 min: Tigers find themselves on the attack now, forcing repeat sets from the Warriors.
7 min: Tigers' halfback Head spills the pill with the line wide open - pressure off the Warriors now.
10 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Too easy out of dummy half for Warriors hooker Ian Henderson who crawls over the line, and the Kiwi lads are up here early. Conversion attempt by Lance Hohaia successful. New Zealand Warriors 6-0
13 min: PENALTY Tigers. Count is now 3-1 to the Warriors as the home side finally gets a relieving penalty. All penalties in both directions have been for inside the ten, Lyons is cracking down on it today.
18 min: Matty Head sprays a grubber into touch and a chance goes begging for the Tigers.
31 min: TRY Wests Tigers Benji finally clicks into the gear after looking rusty so far, he sets Tuiaki up for a brilliant try and finally Leichhardt has exploded into life! Conversion attempt by Brett Hodgson successful. New Zealand Warriors 16-6
36 min: PENALTY Tigers. Mautlino has taken a Tigers player high and they will get a chance to reel the visitors in just before the break. Another PENALTY in that set and it's six again, the Warriors defence will be tested here.
37 min: PENALTY Tigers again! The Warriors are doing everything to keep the Tigers out here, Tigers attacking right on the goal line. Benji Marshall is then bundled into touch and the pressure's off for the Warriors.
HALFTIME New Zealand Warriors 16 Wests Tigers 6 The Tigers have looked truly ordinary for most of this half although some questionable refereeing from Steve Lyons has had it's part. The Warriors came out strong and have blown the Tigers off the park in most counts despite an even share of possession. It'll take a spirited effort for the home team to come back from here but with the Warriors' inconsistency so far in 2008 it really is anyone's game.
Second half kickoff Tigers first possession in this half.
43 min: Steve Lyons has picked up a Warriors forward pass and the Leichhardt faithful burst into applause. The Tigers to attack now.
49 min: TRY Wests Tigers Another blatantly forward pass leading this time to a Tigers try - Lyons misses it, sends it upstairs but Steve Clark in the video box can't adjudicate on that and it's try time. Conversion attempt by Brett Hodgson successful. New Zealand Warriors 16-12
53 min: TRY Wests Tigers A brilliant try on the back of triple repeat sets for the Tigers, Lawrence crashing over from a set piece. Tigers draw level! Conversion attempt by Brett Hodgson unsuccessful. 16 all
60 min: Tigers really dominating this half of footy so far, plenty of possession and easily making metres out of dummy half. Chris Lawrence looking a little worse for wear in back-play.
65 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors A great long range try to the Warriors, Hohaia scores it and the tide suddenly turns back to the visitors. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 22-16
69 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors The Warriors crash over through Rapira to seemingly wrap the match up, putting away an ordinary Tigers side. It would take some Marshall magic for Wests to get home it would seem from here. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 28-16
74 min: The Warriors absorbing plenty of pressure from the Tigers in the last few minutes as the home team gallantly tries to narrow the margin. An error from the Tigers all but confirms the result though.
76 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Tigers try to Taniela Tuiaki... checking for obstruction. Decision pending...
76 min: TRY Wests Tigers A try awarded to Taniela Tuiaki and the Tigers will attempt the improbable here with 3 minutes to go, six points the margin. Conversion attempt by Brett Hodgson successful. New Zealand Warriors 28-22
78 min: The Warriors through Aiden Kirk diffuse the Tigers latest attempt. Rapira's dropped the ball though... Tigers on the attack with less than two remaining!
79:47 min: VIDEO REFEREE - possible Tigers hat-trick to Taniela Tuiaki! Decision pending... TRY! Hodgson to convert to even it up... he's missed it!
80 min: TRY Wests Tigers The try given to Tuiaki out wide but Hodgson's miss from the touchline means it's the Warriors going home with the two points in a thriller! Conversion attempt by Brett Hodgson unsuccessful. New Zealand Warriors 28-26
FULLTIME New Zealand Warriors 28 Wests Tigers 26 The Warriors have come away with the points... just, in this see-sawing match at Leichhardt Oval this afternoon. Great game with an exciting finish, and the better side won in many respects. Thanks for joining us!