Young gun Tuimoala Lolohea says his return to the Warriors starting line-up for Saturday’s extra-time victory over Penrith could have been better, but is a good first step.
The 21-year-old showcased his trademark footwork at fullback in the 20-16 win at Mt Smart Stadium and produced an exciting run down the left flank to help create his side’s first try.
But he also failed to prevent a Peter Wallace 40-20 kick late in the second half and occasionally looked shaky under the high ball, dropping one Panthers bomb under pressure.
Lolohea, who started on the bench in three of his side’s previous four matches, told NZN he was content with his performance but knew he needed to produce more to retain his starting position.
“A couple errors here and there, but I just got on with the job and I’m pretty happy,” Lolohea said.
“It’s the first game back for a while starting, but I feel like I performed pretty well.”
The Warriors wasted an eight-point lead by conceding two second-half Josh Mansour tries but came good when it counted with a piece of Shaun Johnson extra time magic.
Johnson shaped to kick a field goal before skipping past onrushing Panthers defenders to plant the ball over the line in the 89th minute.
It was the first time the Warriors had managed to snare victory in extra-time after a streak of four golden-point matches in five games.
Lolohea said Johnson was one of the few NRL players with the audacity to attempt such a move.
“I’m speechless, how that turned out,” he said.
“It’s something only certain people can do and Shaun is one of them.” The win lifts the Warriors into the top eight on points difference with five matches remaining, and Lolohea was confident his side could use the victory to build finals momentum.
“I felt like we were on top of them,” he said.
“We’ve just got to keep playing good footy and performing, keep getting better each week.”