SYDNEY,AUSTRALIA- APRIL 19,2021 (NRL/PACNEWS): Roger Tuivasa-Sheck took it as a personal challenge as he willed the Warriors to a 20-14 win, outpointing Dragons fullback Matt Dufty after it looked like he’d scored the match-winner.
Dufty’s touchdown from an Adam Clune grubber put St George Illawarra on course for five straight victories with 20 minutes to play, but Tuivasa-Sheck promptly returned serve at Netstrata Jubilee Oval.
The Kiwi custodian beat Jack Bird and Tariq Sims to score in the 65th minute before Kodi Nikorima added a penalty goal.
Two competition points eased the pain of injuries to Peta Hiku (shoulder) and Adam Pompey (leg) for the Warriors.
Speaking to the media during the week, the speedy Dufty described Tuivasa-Sheck as “one of the best [fullbacks] in the world” and said he loves “challenging myself against players like that”.
Tuivasa-Sheck also had an eye on the head-to-head battle.
“Most weeks I go in with a personal challenge against the opposition and whoever’s playing number one,” said Tuivasa-Sheck, who racked up 265 metres in his 100th NRL match for the Warriors.
“Dufty’s been on form, he’s doing really well, so it was another personal challenge for me to go out there and try and beat my opposition. I think everyone across the board thinks the same way.”
Dufty has been a standout in recent weeks but made a costly first-half error – failing to ground the ball and force a drop-out from a Nikorima kick – that led to a Warriors try and a 12-4 deficit.
Incredibly, the visitors completed 40 of 40 sets, according to NRL Stats. They were similarly tidy in their round-three win against the Dragons last year, completing 45 of 47 sets on that occasion.
“It was a nice improvement,” Warriors coach Nathan Brown said.
“The ball got to the right people much quicker [than in last week’s 13-12 loss to Manly] … That seemed to change a little bit today and hopefully we can continue to work on it.”
St George Illawarra battered their opponents in their winning streak, but the Warriors matched their physicality from the outset with Ken Maumalo and Tohu Harris doing damage with the ball.
Still, the hosts scored first through Cody Ramsey in the seventh minute after shifting down their left edge.
The lead was fleeting, however, as Tohu Harris ran over Clune to score and then Paul Turner – who replaced the injured Hiku after four minutes – claimed his first NRL try after Dufty’s blunder.
The St George Illawarra No.1 went some way to redeeming himself when he fired a cutout pass to Mikaele Ravawala, who powered his way to the line despite limited room to make it 12-8 at half-time.
An arm-wrestle ensued for the second term until Dufty edged his team in front, only for Tuivasa-Sheck to one-up him.
Brown didn’t provide much information on Hiku or Pompey’s injuries but said the likes of Rocco Berry and Reece Walsh could come into contention for next week’s clash with the Storm if they aren’t fit.
Harris underwent a HIA in the second half but passed.
Euan Aitken (ankle, round 9-11), Chanel Harris-Tavita (foot, round 13-14) and Addin Fonua-Blake (knee, round 19-20) have already been sidelined sidelined for extended periods.