2023 NRL Round 1: Warriors 20, Knights 12

It was a successful return to Wellington for the Warriors, as they outlasted the Knights 20-12 to secure Andrew Webster’s first win as coach.


New Zealand Warriors 20
Tries: Ed Kosi (25), Bunty Afoa (29), Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad (51), Wade Egan (74)
Goals: Shaun Johnson (31, 75)

Newcastle Knights 12
Tries: Lachlan Fitzgibbon (4), Hymel Hunt (45)
Jackson Hastings (5, 47)
Field Goal:

Embed from Getty Images


The Wellington wind was blowing a gale to welcome NRL footy back to New Zealand. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was ruled out in the lead up to the game, with Ed Kosi taking his place on the wing for the home side. The wind played havoc early, as Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad dropped a swirling bomb in this own half. In the next set, Kalyn Ponga threw a short ball to his backrower Lachlan Fitzgibbon for the game’s first try.

After 25 minutes of tense back and forth, the Warriors hit back. Mitch Barnett made a break off a no-look pass from Tohu Harris. On the next play, it was the late replacement Ed Kosi who scored in the corner. Following the try, the momentum swung in favour of the Warriors. The ensuing Knights kick-off went out on the full, which lead directly to a barnstorming try by Bunty Afoa.

Showing plenty of energy in attack, the Warriors took a 10-6 lead into the halftime break.

The Knights opened the second half with plenty of vigour. With the wind at their backs, they had the Warriors under pressure early. Eventually the pressure proved too much, as some silky hands from Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best setup a try for Hymel Hunt. Despite taking the lead back, poor ball control from the Knights let the Warriors off the hook.

With the pressure off, the Warriors wrestled back momentum. Surging into the lead, the home side scored through Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad and followed up with another attacking raid. It didn’t result in any points however, despite Phoenix Crossland being sin-binned for consecutive penalties. A highlight of the Warriors desperate defence, it was a try-saver from Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad that kept the home side ahead 14-12.

Tensions rose as Kalyn Ponga was forced to leave the field for a HIA. Not long after Ponga departed, the game was decided by a sharp try from dummy-half by Wade Egan. He caught the Knights napping to seal a hard-fought eight point win. Ponga joined teammate Tyson Frizell as failed HIA’s from the game for Newcastle.


Embed from Getty Images

3 – Tohu Harris (New Zealand Warriors)
2 – Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad (New Zealand Warriors)
1 – Shaun Johnson (New Zealand Warriors)

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