New Zealand Warriors dominate day one of the Nines

Brad Fittler, Steve Menzies, Lachlan Coote, the five point try revolution and the New Zealand Warriors were the main talking points to come out of day one of the inaugural Nines tournament at the home of rugby, Eden Park.

Fittler turned out for the first time in ten years in the tri-colours and featured with an intercept try on their way to a good win over the Brisbane Broncos 14-7.  In the same game Fittler cleaned up Ben Barba in a tackle that went a little high.  The Roosters will be pleased with their one win from two matches considering the team they’ve selected for the Nines.

Manly fans had the pleasure to see club great Steve Menzies turn out in the famous jumper.  While he didn’t have the same type of hype surrounding that of Fittler’s return, he was part of Manly’s win over the Cowboys as the club recorded one win from two matches.

In the same game Menzies’ Sea Eagles won, heartbreak for Lachlan Coote who appears to have picked up a serious ACL injury that could see the new Cowboys recruit missing for some length of the season.  Coote missed a good part of last season with the Panthers with a pectoral injury.  Unfortunately for North Queensland they’ve picked up a bad injury in a tournament where all teams are hoping to come away with few injuries.

The team to beat are pre-tournament favourites and hosts, New Zealand Warriors.  Two strong wins over Canberra and Manly has seen the club book a place in the quarter-finals.  Shaun Johnson was always going to be the key to any potential Warriors success.  Sam Tomkins also showed good skills in his first hit-out in NRL competition.  Parramatta and Penrith are the two other teams to be undefeated at the end of day one.  Not so much could be said for the Dragons, Raiders or Bulldogs who will exit the competition early after losing both matches.

One great innovation for the Nines tournament has been the five point try.  This is where the try needs to be scored under the posts and inside the sponsors logo.  It rewards sides for scoring under the posts but the main advantage is that in most cases a result will be determined within normal time.  Out of the sixteen matches decided today none were completed with any additional time.

Tomorrow is a testing day especially for the teams who will make their way to the final.  With the final round of pool matches quickly turning into quarter-finals.  A forty minute break to the semi-finals before an hour break leading into the final.  The team who will win the competition will need to play four games which could be seen the equivalent of two full games, and beat the physical and mental barriers.  The Warriors are favourites to win, but it just takes one team to show character and the title is theirs.

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