NRL 2021: Reece Walsh steals the show as Warriors hang on for gusty victory over West Tigers

Reece Walsh has stolen the show with a scintillating performance to guide the Warriors to a gusty 30-26 NRL victory over the West Tigers at Central Coast Stadium. 

After being a late inclusion for Ken Maumalo, which saw captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck shift to the wing to allow Walsh to start at fullback, the young sensation tore the Tigers defence to pieces all evening. 

The 18-year-old produced a  sizzling display as he set up three tries, four linebreak-assists, a line break, 133-run metres and grabbed his third try in three games for the Warriors. 

The Tigers had the chance to steal the result after the siren when they had a right-edge overlap but centre Adam Doueihi spilled the ball to hand the Warriors a six tries to four victory.

The contest didn't start well for Walsh as he attempted to leave a Luciano Leilua grubber kick to allow it to go dead but Luke Garner pounced before it could to open the scoring. 

If you were worried about the mistake rattling his confidence, the teenager didn't show it when the Warriors hit back five minutes later.   

Walsh went from villain to hero with a beautiful cut-out pass to find Marcelo Montoya who bulldozed his way over. 

The Tigers hit the front again when Garner grabbed his second, after bursting onto a Moses Mbye short ball to storm through an alarming hole in the Warriors defence. 

Walsh's elevation has Tuivasa-Sheck moved to the right wing but the skipper was still hugely influential as the Warriors hit back ten minutes before halftime when Jack Murchie capped off a brilliant team try. 

Kodi Nikorima showed great hands to catch and pass to Tuivasa-Sheck, who then showed his trademark footwork to burst into a huge hole before he offloaded to Murchie to score the Warriors first try from their half this season.

Walsh stole the show in the final five minutes, when he delivered a beautiful lob pass to Tuivasa-Sheck who strolled over unmarked before he grabbed his third Warriors try on the stroke of halftime. 

Whatever Kiwis and West Tigers coach Michael Maguire said at halftime worked perfectly when David Nofoaluma crossed in his 150th NRL game to make it a two-point deficit. 

Discipline started to cost the New Zealand side as the momentum swung in the Tigers favour.

Ben Murdoch-Masila was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul after Nofoaluma intercepted an Eliesa Katoa pass and burst downfield. 

With the Warriors defence stretched, Murdoch-Masila held the Tigers wing down for too long and was given his marching orders. 

In the ten minutes the big Warriors forward was off, the Tigers could only manage two penalty goals to hand them a 20-18 lead. 

Just as Murdoch-Masila was about to return, Kotoa was sent to the bin for an ugly spare tackle on Luciano Leilua.

The Warriors then turned the contest on its head with two tries in two sets to snatch back the lead.

The first came through hooker Wayde Egan, when he won the race to a Nikorima grubber before Montoya grabbed his second of the evening after an incredible offload in-contact from Walsh to open up a ten-point lead. 

The Warriors' defence has let them down over most of the season, but in the 20 minutes with 12-players, they only conceded two penalty goals. 

The Tigers set up a grandstand finish with a minute to play when their captain James Tamou crashed over. 

The visitors had one set to steal the result but the Warriors scrambled on their own line to hang on and claim their fifth victory for the season.

The Warriors will sweat on the decision of the NRL  judiciary with forwards Jazz Tevaga and Jack Murchie both placed on report for high shots but avoided the bin. Katoa will also have a nervous wait, with his spare tackle to come under closer scrutiny. 

The heart-pumping victory sees the Warriors provisionally returns them to the top eight and level with the Dragons in sixth, while the Tigers remain in 13th. 

The New Zealand side will travel to a red-hot North Qeensland side who have won five out of their last seven. 

Warriors 30 (2 Montoya, Murchie, Tuivasa-Sheck, Egan, Walsh tries; Nikorima 3 conversions) bt West Tigers 26 (2 Garner, Nofoaluma, Tamou tries; 3 Doueihi conversions, 2 penalty goals)