New Zealand Warriors have toppled the ladder leading St. George Illawarra Dragons 20-12 at Mt Smart Stadium.
The Warriors faced with an undefeated Dragons side were controlled and clinical from the outset. New Zealand with a strong kicking game and keeping errors to a minimum early on were able to head into halftime 10-0. Both teams going set for set the Dragons found two tries late to have the score 16-12 with 6 minutes left. The home side Warriors were able to hold on and bag a last minute try to win a huge upset 20-12.
WARRIORS WIN TOUGH
In front of a fantastic crowd in Auckland, the Warriors produced a full 80-minute performance with and without the ball against an unbeaten Dragons outfit. The home side only had 38 percent of possession but off the back of their strong goal-line defence, they were able to run in four tries to two on their opposition and now sit in first alongside the St. George side.
In the rain, a fightback from the Dragons nearly found the try line once again to which would’ve placed the visitors in front with 15 minutes left. A bomb from halfback Ben Hunt went searching for a teammate to catch and found unlikely prop James Graham resulting in Roger Tuivasa-Sheck gaining possession which then lead to an intercept try. The entire play was reviewed and initially given as a four-pointer to Tim Lafai who intercepted off the Warriors mistake that play, however a knock on from Graham was found when contesting the high ball.
LUKE BEST ON FIELD
Hooker Issac Luke produced one of his best performances for the Warriors. Luke masterminded two winning plays in the 65th minute with a 40/20 by the rake after a disallowed try to the Dragons, which was followed up by a scoot out of dummy half a metre from the try line to score and put his side up by 10.
INJURIES NO PROBLEM
New Zealand was faced with no Leivaha Pulu and Solomone Kata coming into the clash but with a late withdrawal of in-form halfback Shaun Johnson, the team looked in trouble. Within the opening 10 minutes second-row forward Tohu Harris was met in a big collision to not return for the match but with all the outs including Johnson in the halves, Mason Lino came in for another steading performance to steer the side to a big win.
Tries: Lino, Gelling, Luke, Papali’i
Goals: Lino 2/4
Tries: Hunt, Sims
Goals: Widdop 2/2
Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), 2 David Fusitu’a, 3 Peta Hiku, 17 Anthony Gelling, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Blake Green, 20 Mason Lino, 8 Bunty Afoa, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Agnatius Paasi, 11 Simon Mannering, 12 Tohu Harris, 13 Adam Blair
Interchange: 14 Jazz Tevaga, 15 Sam Lisone, 16 Albert Vete, 21 Isaiah Papali’i
Dragons: 1 Matthew Dufty, 2 Nene Macdonald, 3 Euan Aitken, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Jason Nightingale, 6 Gareth Widdop (c), 7 Ben Hunt, 8 James Graham, 9 Cameron McInnes, 10 Paul Vaughan, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Jack De Belin
Interchange: 14 Jeremy Latimore, 15 Kurt Mann, 16 Leeson Ah Mau, 17 Hame Sele