New Zealand Warriors 24
Tries: Tuimoala Lolohea, Manu Vatuvei, Ben Matulino, Solomone Kata, Johnathan Wright
Goals: Shaun Johnson (2/5)
Field Goals: nil
Newcastle Knights 20
Tries: Akuila Uate 2, Dane Gagai, James McManus
Goals: Tyler Randell (1/3), Dane Gagai (1/1)
Field Goals: nil
New Zealand Warriors have held on for their third win in a row after a 26-20 win over Newcastle Knights at Mount Smart Stadium in front of 13,203 fans.
It was an afternoon where the Warriors should have won quite convincingly but Rick Stone’s men dug in to produced a wonderful performance. They suffered an early setback with chief play maker Tyrone Roberts sustaining a match ending ankle injury in the opening five minutes. It looked like Roberts would play on until he was assisted by the trainers off the field and up the tunnel. Carlos Tuimavave and makeshift half Tyler Randell doing a fair job to get within four points of victory.
Tariq Sims and Akuila Uate threatened to steal the game off the home side in the second half. The Warriors falling into their usual habits of taking the foot off the pedal when leading 20-8 four minutes after half time when Solomone Kata powered through some non-existent defence.
Roberts’ injury had an immediate impact with the Knights conceding two tries in a six minute period. Tuimoala Lolohea making the most of Shaun Johnson’s break to open the scoring after seven minutes. Soon after Manu Vatuvei went one up on Uate as he leaped above the Fijian to take Chad Townsend’s kick out of the air and force his way over the line. Vatuvei’s 143rd career try gave the Warriors a ten point lead.
In his return game Sam Tomkins made an error carting the ball out from near his own line. Dane Gagai finishing a blindside play from the scrum win to put the Knights back into the game.
Sixteen before the break a critical period of the game where James McManus ran eighty metres to score. The video ref rightly denying the try as Joseph Leilua had taken out Bodene Thompson before he received a pass. In the next set it was Ben Matulino barging over. A twelve point turnaround put the Warriors out to 14-4 lead. The first of Uate’s tries came off the back of a Warriors mistake but poor kicking from Randell meant the home side would lead 14-8 at the break.
Newcastle’s start to the second half again pointed to a breakaway scoreline as their attack was disorganised. And it wasn’t too long until Kata score to set up a the biggest lead of the game at 20-8. Tariq Sims stepped up and inspired the Knights side missing Kurt Gidley and Kade Snowden. His offload to McManus and Randell’s conversion made it a six point game.
With ten minutes remaining it looked like the Warriors had put the game beyond doubt when Johnson’s timely kick behind the Knights defence set up Johnathan Wright’s try in the corner. Newcastle had other ideas when Uate crossed for his 104th career try, setting up a nervous final few minutes for the Warriors.
Outside Roberts’ ankle injury it appeared at one stage Uate also suffered an ankle problem in being tackled. The Warriors appeared injury free. No players were placed on report.
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