New Zealand Warriors: Tries: Konrad Hurrell (2), Manu Vatuvei, Simon Mannering, Shaun Johnson. Goals: Shaun Johnson 5/5.
Penrith Panthers: Tries: Jamie Soward, Josh Mansour, Matt Moylan, James Segeyaro. Goals: Jamie Soward 2/3, Peter Wallace 0/1.
Konrad Hurrell crossed for two tries as the Warriors continued to build on their recent upturn in form with a 30-20 win over the high flying Penrith Panthers in Auckland.
The Warriors were forced to repel a determined effort by the Panthers in a entertaining clash which was high on energy – the game was in the balance until halfback Shaun Johnson scored an interception try with six minutes to go. The result meant the Warriors’ secured their sixth win in eight matches and ended the second-placed Panthers’ five-game winning run.
The home side made a dominant start and quickly went ahead as Konrad Hurrell powered through defenders Josh Mansour and Jamal Idris in typical style to give the Warriors a 6-0 lead on five minutes before Penrith had even touched the ball. Idris, who had been unavailable for the Panthers’ last three matches, was brought into the starting line-up despite initially being named to play in the New South Wales Cup curtain-raiser. He went on to have an entertaining personal battle with Hurrell.
The Warriors maintained their dominance and extended their lead in the 12th minute when winger Manu Vatuvei went over following a slick passage of play. Another touchline conversion from Johnson saw the hosts’ lead extended to 12.
The Warriors completely dominated the opening quarter but the second 20 was a different story.
Penrith were 12-0 down early on when they travelled to Mount Smart Stadium last year before coming back to win and, with halves Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward raising their game, the visitors began to launch a comeback. An expansive and attractive style combined with an outstanding ability to keep the ball alive produced two tries in the space of just four first half minutes. Soward crossed first, latching on to a Tyrone Peachey offload just before the half hour and a score from Mansour brought the scores level.
The Panthers took the lead just before half time, as fullback Matt Moylan pounced on an accurate kick by Peter Wallace, taking the scoreline to 16-12 at the break. But, Scotland international Wallace lost his playmaking partner on half time with Soward being substituted after failing to recover from a leg injury suffered in a tackle.
The Warriors looked to take advantage of this setback and soon responded through captain, Simon Mannering. Johnson landed his third conversion for an 18-16 lead. Hurrell added his second of the game with just under 20 minutes left, capitalising on an in-goal mistake by Moylan.
Moylan made up for his error four minutes later, producing an offload to send energetic hooker James Segeyaro over the line and make it a four-point ball game, giving the Panthers hope with 15 to go. However, Segeyaro turned from hero to villain as Johnson intercepted a Segeyaro pass and he ran the ball home from 50 metres out, taking he scores to 30-20, finally settling the contest.