New Zealand Warriors 20(Tomkins, Hurrell, Vatuvei, Mannering tries; Johnson 2 goals)
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 21 (Perrett, Williams, Lafai tries; Hodkinson 4 goals; Hodkinson field goal)
A standout performance by Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs half back Trent Hodkinson heaped more misery on the New Zealand Warriors on Sunday afternoon at Eden Park in front of 22,165 fans.
Hodkinson controlled the game brilliantly, and kicked 4 goals from 4 attempts as well as the field goal that decided the match.
The home side started well, with a deft offload finding Thomas Leuluai who drew the fullback before setting up Sam Tomkins for the opening try. Johnson’s conversion made it 6-0 after 11 minutes.
An unconverted try to Manu Vatuvei increased the Warriors’ lead to 10-0 after 28 minutes and Andrew McFadden’s first match in charge of the Warriors was off to a bright start.
The Bulldogs had other ideas and hit back just two minutes later through Sam Perrett. Hodkinson converted to make it 10-6 after 32 minutes.
The Bulldogs were behind 10-6 at half time despite having 54% of possession, completing 14/17 sets and making 36 less tackles.
The Warriors scored in the 44th minute through Konrad Hurrell, not converted by Johnson, who had made just 1/3 so far.
Five minutes later a beautiful short ball by Josh Reynolds found Tony Williams who flirted with the dead ball line before putting the ball down for the try. Hodkinson made no mistake with the conversion and after 51 minutes, the Warriors led 14-12.
In the 58th minute Warriors skipper Simon Mannering chased through a grubber and claimed a try. The video referee agreed with him and Johnson’s conversion made it 20-12 with 20 minutes left.
With just 13 minutes left, Hodkinson intercepted a Warriors pass and raced 70 metres before being brought down. The Bulldogs shifted to the right and found Tim Lafai for the try out wide. Hodkinsons’ conversion attempt was successful for a 20-18 scoreline with 10 minutes left.
A penalty goal by Hodkinson made it 20-all with just 4 minutes left, before he stepped up to slot over a field goal to ice the game in the 78th minute, the final score line 21-20 in favour of the Bulldogs.
It was an impressive match by the Warriors who led 20-12 with 20 minutes left and there are better times ahead with Tomkins slowly adjusting to the pace and physicality of the NRL. The Bulldogs were very good, and Sam Perrett is playing great football at fullback, while Hodkinson is in career-best form.