Highlights: Wests Tigers v Warriors (Rd 23)
The Warriors remain latched onto first place on the ladder after upending the Wests Tigers' finals hopes with a less-than-convincing win.
The visitors earned an important road win, rallying from an early 10-0 deficit, with man-of-the-match Mason Lino steering the side.
It's a bitter blow for the Wests Tigers who were the far better side in the first half but were left lamenting a lacklustre second-half performance against a vulnerable Warriors side.
The Wests Tigers’ season looks more than over now, needing to win their two remaining matches as well as several other unlikely results to fall their way to progress to the finals.
The home side came out early looking like a side with their season on the line and had a final chance to score the match-winning try from the grubber kick but dropped it short of the line in the dying minutes of the match.
The Warriors had plenty of opportunities to score first but Wests Tigers resiliently defended their line with plenty to play for. Their strong goal-line defence repelled three consecutive sets from the Warriors who tested Wests Tigers across the field.
Josh Drinkwater stepped up for Wests Tigers and assisted in their first two tries for the 10-point advantage after 18 minutes.
Drinkwater kicked cross field for Delouise Hoeter to snatch the ball from his opposite number and score for their first try. Drinkwater struck again with vision to spread the ball left and exploit the overlap, passing to Kurtis Rowe who found Chance Peni to cross in the left corner.
However, Wests Tigers’ early work was undone after Sione Lousi intercepted a loose grubber kick for the Warriors to go on the counter attack. Lino capitalised on the opportunity, running at the line to find the gap and race 40 metres to score under the posts in the 22nd minute.
Leading 10-6, Matt Lodge conceded an inexcusable professional penalty and consequent sin-binning on the stroke of halftime for the Warriors to kick the penalty and cut the deficit to two points.
The Warriors failed to make the most of their extra-man advantage, with Wests Tigers enjoying most of the attack to open the second half.
Manly’s latest recruit Tim Moltzen was handed another cruel setback, leaving the field with an apparent wrist injury in the 50th minute to compound Wests Tigers’ difficult situation.
The Warriors finally claimed the lead with Mafoa’aeata Hingano executing a quick catch-and-pass movement to Marata Niukore to score for a 14-10 lead with 28 minutes remaining.
Hingano and Niukore combined again for the Warriors to extend their lead to 20-10 with 18 minutes to play as Hingano placed a mid cross-field kick for the centre to bag his second try.
Wests Tigers had several opportunities to strike closer in the final 10 minutes with multiple sets in attack. But the Warriors defended three consecutive sets of six to take firm control of the result with eight minutes left.
Rowe scored to trail 20-16 with five minutes to play to give Wests Tigers a faint hope of keeping their season alive. In a final roll of the dice, Drinkwater put his side on attack with a break down field and subsequent penalty. In a final demoralising blow, Wests Tigers had a great chance to steal the victory but dropped it before the line to effectively close their season.
Warriors 20 (M Niukore 2, M Lino tries; Lino 4 goals) bt Wests Tigers 16 (D Hoeter, C Peni, K Rowe tries; J Drinkwater 2 goals) at Campbelltown Stadium.