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Benji Marshall has stopped the show on his return to New Zealand, with a stunning comeback to lead the Tigers in a 26-22 victory over the Warriors at Mount Smart.
The first half wasn't anything to crow about, both sides having trouble getting started. In the 10th minute, Ayshford exploded into a hole to open the scoring for the Tigers. Not to be outdone, the Warriors kept the ball alive, with Inu touching down in the corner.
Video Referees got a workout in the first half, having to adjudicate on three different try scoring situations. The first two were given red lights but the third was awarded to Kevin Locke who swooped on a Manu Vatuvei bat back to give us a 8-4 scoreline at halftime, to the home side.
Things could have only gotten better in the second half, after a dire first half and after a feeling out period, the Warriors exploded into action. Some counter-attacking football by Locke and Mateo who got it to the beast, who got his 83rd try in Warriors colours.
One try brought on the onslaught, Feleti Mateo would prove why he was targeted highly in the off season by the Warriors. He was stepping out of tackles at will, setting up Shaun Johnson for his first NRL try and instrumental in Manu Vatuvei getting his double, making it 22-4 and even with Maloney missing four conversions, it was surely a bridge too far for the Tigers.
No one told Benji Marshall that though. Once the Tigers got some possession, he weaved his magic, firstly touching down himself to get his first try in New Zealand in Tigers colours. Next he put it high for McKinnon to score and within ten minutes, it was game on.
By this point, the tide had shifted, with the Tigers truly on top. McKinnon burst through the line, offloaded to Marshall who suddenly had a brace in his home country but as the opposition. His last act, was a no look pass to Beau Ryan who touched down in the corner to complete an outstanding comeback.
Coming into this game, these two sides were 6th and 7th on the ladder but the win, makes it back to back wins for the Tigers while the Warriors will lament lost chances after back to back losses.
New Zealand Warriors 22 were defeated by Wests Tigers 26
National Rugby League - Round 14 - Sunday June 12, 2011 2:00pm
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Referee: Ashley Klein and Adam Devcich
Video Referee: Sean Hampstead
Touch Judges: Ricky MacFarlane and Luke Phillips
Halftime: New Zealand Warriors 8 Wests Tigers 4
New Zealand Warriors (22)
Tries: Manu Vatuvei (2), Krisnan Inu, Kevin Locke, Shaun Johnson
Conversions: James Maloney (1/5)
Wests Tigers (26)
Tries: Benji Marshall (2), Wade McKinnon, Beau Ryan, Blake Ayshford
Conversions: Benji Marshall (3/5)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to Mount Smart Stadium, for this afternoon's clash between New Zealand and Wests. Important clash for both sides, who are 6th and 8th respectively. Earlier in the u20s, New Zealand have continued their winning run 30-16.
New Zealand: 1-17
Wests: One change, Lote Tuiqiri is out, Beau Ryan comes onto the wing and Tim Simona earns a spot on the bench following his debut last Monday.
Both sides are out on the field and Bryce Gibbs takes the first hit up.
2 min: Warriors with a good first up set. Maloney tries to run it on last and it trickles over the sideline.
4 min: First penalty goes to New Zealand, gives them a whole set in the Tigers thirty but it's dropped on first.
10 min: TRY
Robert Lui holds the ball up long enough for Ayshford, who hits the hole and scores the opening points. Benji Marshall steps up for his first conversion attempt of the afternoon and hits the post.
Wests Tigers 4-0
16 min: Knock on Tigers, from an average Johnson kick.
18 min: More possession for the Warriors here, with the Tigers knocking it on again.
21 min: TRY
Kevin Locke brushes a feeble tackle by Robert Lui, offloads to Mateo who storms downfield before being tackled. Off the next play, they spread it wide to Inu who touches down, with questions over the final pass but it's given. Maloney from the sideline, can't convert.
22 min: This isn't what Wests need, both Heighington and Lui are down. Both will play on for the moment.
Checking for a second Tigers try of the afternoon..
25 min: NO TRY! Mitch Brown pushed Krisnan Inu in the back, so penalty Warriors.
28 min: Warriors pinged for being inside the ten.
Another video referee decision, checking if Galloway has got over the line.
30 min: NO TRY! Fulton is short on 4th tackle. It's last and some space opened up for the Tigers but Locke closes it with a bone rattler.
32 min: Warriors get a piggyback from their own area, with a penalty but waste the opportunity with a sloppy forward pass.
33 min: Tigers are on the referee's bad side atm, with another penalty for the Warriors from their own end.
Video Referee is called upon again, checking if Mateo got the ball down after a Vatuvei bat back.
35 min: TRY
Last tackle, It's kicked crossfield for Vatuvei who can't get to it but bats the ball back for Mateo. He has an airswing which gives Locke the opportunity to swoop under his and get hands on the ball. Maloney misses his second conversion of the afternoon.
New Zealand Warriors 8-4
37 min: Old school shepherd by the Warriors which opened the hole for Johnson. Penalty against New Zealand.
39 min: James Maloney gives his side one more opportunity to put on points before halftime, with a beautiful 40/20.
40 min: Tigers hold firm in the last set, just some silly play by the Warriors. Halftime.
41 min: Marshall gets the second half underway, with his boot.
43 min: Both sides are feeling each other out, in the first few minutes.
46 min: NO TRY! Locke has touched the ball onto Beau Ryan's head. Warriors compound their error conceding a silly penalty.
49 min: TRY
Great counter attack by the Warriors. Marshall's kick goes dead, they keep the ball alive, getting Locke into the backfield but he's wrapped up. From the play the ball, they spread it to Vatuvei who gets his 83rd try of his career. Maloney again, misses.
New Zealand Warriors 12-4
54 min: Feleti Mateo loves tired forwards. He stands in the tackle and offloads to Hohaia who needs some support but no one is there! Let off for the Tigers.
55 min: Marshall finds a hole for his support play but it's spilt.
57 min: TRY
Mateo the maestro this afternoon! Tigers have paid for not wrapping up the ball, Mateo steps offloads to Johnson who turns the fullback inside out to score his first try in the NRL. Someone sack Maloney, he's missed all four kicks today.
New Zealand Warriors 16-4
60 min: TRY
The Warriors have turned it on in the second half. A chip kick which is gathered by Mateo who offloads to Johnson who will go himself? No he passes to Vatuvei who has a brace. Huzzah! Maloney finally got a conversion.
New Zealand Warriors 22-4
65 min: TRY
Great bootlace tackle by Maloney. Next play, it's kept alive for Marshall who gets his first try in New Zealand and converts his own try.
New Zealand Warriors 22-10
67 min: TRY
Back to back tries here for the Tigers, a kick goes high and it's snaffled by McKinnon to touch down. Marshall converts.
New Zealand Warriors 22-16
68 min: Marshall judges the wind perfectly with a 40/20
73 min: TRY
Tigers are lighting up Auckland here. Ayshford breaks a few tackles and is into the backfield, draws his man and passes to Marshall who has a brace in New Zealand. Marshall converts to level the game.
75 min: Whooshka! Big hit by the Warriors.
Possible try to win the game for Beau Ryan.
76 min: TRY
Brilliant no look pass by Marshall as he goes down the blind, gets it to Ryan who stays in and scores. Marshall misses the conversion from the sideline.
Wests Tigers 26-22
78 min: Maloney boots one crossfield and gets the desired result, a knock on by the Tigers.
80 min: Marshall magic has won this game for the Tigers, amazing comeback, they were down 22-4 after 60 minutes but came back to win it.