But the best way, of course, is to FEED THE BEAST!
It wasn’t a vintage performance from The Beast, not from the entire Warriors outfit for that matter, but fortunately the gods smiled on Penrose and the NRL rollercoaster provided enough thrills to keep everyone happy as Manu got both the win and the tries he deserved for his 12 years of passion and commitment.
The scene was set early, with this impromptu haka from the Warriors’ NSW Cup team to welcome The Beast onto the field.
But when Robbie Farah darted up the middle, Ben Matulino forgot his lines and the crowd at Our Rightful Home couldn’t bear to watch.
Luckily, Tui Lolohea knew the script, fed it to The Beast, and the Warriors piled on 20 points in 13 minutes.
Just as they were threatening to run away with it, an error gave the Tigers possession at the right end of the field and James Tedesco took centre stage.
20–12 at halftime soon turned into 20–18. After an almost comical error from The Beast, Tim Simona threatened to steal the show, brushing aside Konrad Hurrell and Shaun Johnson as if he was casually opening the dressing-room door.
For the next 17 minutes, the tension built as both sides had chances to win. But, right on cue, Solomone Kata fed The Beast, and the directors had their perfect finale.
Pat Richards scored during the epilogue, just to keep things interesting, but Bodene Thompson made sure it was the Warriors, and The Beast, who took the final bow, making it 32–22 as the curtains were drawn.
SET OF SIX
1) Chad Townsend is growing in confidence every week. He’s copped plenty of criticism so far (perhaps unjustifiably), but, quite honestly, he’s becoming the dominant half for this Warriors side. He’s heavily involved in every Warriors set, is their most active support player, and has a new-found confidence in his running game.
After the game he said that celebration was taken from the NFL, but he’s certainly doing everything in his power to try and prove he’s worth a new deal to keep him in Aotearoa beyond this year.
2) Another of the more unheralded players, Jonathan Wright, also deserves a mention. I’m the first to admit I haven’t been his biggest fan in 2015 and, after watching David Fusitua make a safe, successful return from injury in the NSW Cup, I was looking forward to seeing Wright’s name scratched from the team sheet. On Saturday night, however, he finally did everything right (sorry, it had to be said at least once this season), catching every high ball that went his way and returning them with interest. Even still, I’m not sure we’ll see him in the top side for long. It’s clear he’s not regarded as an attacking option, as he didn’t touch the ball once in the Tigers half. Now just think about that for a second — not once in the opposition half, not even by accident! That is a remarkable stat and you could be forgiven for thinking his teammates were avoiding him at the attacking end.
3) In amongst all the good things, this was far from the perfect performance. Without taking anything away from the Tigers, all four tries they scored were incredibly soft defensively, and the final three came from sets directly following a Warriors mistake in their own half. 32–0 wouldn’t have been a fair reflection of the game, but I hope the Warriors believe that’s what the score should have finished as.
4) Konrad Hurrell further emphasised the rollercoaster nature of this Warriors side. After a borderline embarrassing return to the NRL last week, Hurrell bounced back in typically damaging fashion against the Tigers. His attacking game was flawless, with his bullocking runs helping to set up two of the Warriors’ six tries.
But, unfortunately, the defensive frailties and immaturity were still plain to see (what is he doing on this last Tigers try?!)
When this kid gets a handle on how good he can be, though, wow. He might not even need Manu’s money anymore.
5) Does anyone else think bombing the corner is a seriously risky proposition when you’re ahead by 4 points with a minute to go? Sure, this kick led to a try, but on another day, Pat Richards collects this and runs the length to break our hearts.
6) For anyone who was at the game on Saturday night, was that the oddest halftime show of all time? Instead of Manu/Beast-themed entertainment, we had a flash mob version of this spread all over Our Rightful Home:
If you watched the entire 4 minutes and 21 seconds of that, I apologise and fully realise that wasn’t time invested well.
Where was the 12 years of different Manu-haircut bobbleheads race?
Or just 10 minutes on the big screen of Manu doing this:
Or just bring back Savage!
THE GOLDEN POINT
Shaun Johnson’s form has been talked about to death in the media this season, but there were signs on Saturday that he’s starting to regain his confidence. With the new additions to the side, the emergence of Chad Townsend as the lead ball-handler and the dominance of the Warriors forward pack up the middle, it’s looked as if Johnson hasn’t quite figured out how best to influence the game. Maybe it’s as simple as ‘Run, Shaun, Run!’
BEFORE WE GO
Let’s just have one final shout out to Gavin Badger’s beard!
In case you haven’t seen it, check out the footage from the Warriors’ winning song. Feed The Beast!