Warriors centre Jerome Ropati faces another long stint on the sideline after breaking his jaw during their 42-18 win over the Wests Tigers.
The Warriors’ joy at ending their Wellington hoodoo with a 42-18 blitz of the Wests Tigers was dampened by another serious injury to Jerome Ropati.
The veteran centre suffered a suspected broken jaw before leaving the game in the 12th minute. The degree of damage and recovery time are still to be determined.
Warriors coach Matthew Elliott says there was a change to the dressing room atmosphere in the wake of the eight tries-to-three win after the team learned of Ropati’s fate.
It continues a dreadful run with injury for the 28-year-old, who has barely played over the last three seasons due to a series of knee injuries.
“The boys are pretty down, it’s hard to get too excited in there because we’re all down about that,” Elliott said.
“The boys were enjoying having him in the team, he brings a real solidarity around him so he’s going to be sorely missed.”
The Tigers suffered three notable injuries of their own during a wild game which they led 12-0 after half an hour before conceding five tries in the space of 13 minutes either side of halftime.
Second rower Cory Paterson didn’t return after suffering apparent neck damage when landing awkwardly in an 11th-minute tackle from Sione Lousi, which saw the Warriors forward placed on report.
Fullback James Tedesco exited after 30 minutes, suffering concussion and a facial cut through an accidental knee to the head. Forward Sauaso Sue limped off late with an ankle injury which is likely to sideline him for a handful of weeks according to coach Mick Potter.
“At the back end of the game we weren’t in good shape in terms of who could play,” Potter said.
“And because we did have people out of position, we weren’t as fluent as we should have been.”
They struggled to contain the Warriors’ bold attacking game, built on a surfeit of possession for the last 50 minutes.
Halfback Shaun Johnson scored a try in his 14-point haul and set up several others with his passing or astute grubber kicks.
Glen Fisiiahi was the chief beneficiary with four tries, taking his season tally to seven, while the others went to fellow-wing Manu Vatuvei, second-rower Jason Bukuya and fullback Sam Tomkins, who again mixed mistakes with some brilliant moments.
Braith Anasta and Tedesco capitalised on early Tigers dominance with tries while captain Robbie Farah scored the only try in the second spell amidst a Warriors scoring barrage.
Both teams now boast a two win-two loss record.
The Warriors backed up impressively from their 20-16 win over North Queensland last weekend while the Tigers’ momentum following wins over Gold Coast and Souths has been abruptly halted.
It was the Warriors’ first win in seven visits to Wellington since 2001.