Tony Kemp reviews Warriors first back-to-back win all year

Author
Radio Sport, NZ Herald,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Saturday, 18 May 2019, 1:19PM
Patrick Herbert of the Warriors celebrates with his team mates after scoring a try. (Photo /Getty)

The Warriors' season is back on track, after an emphatic 30-10 win over the struggling Panthers.

There's a long way to go in 2019, but the manner of this performance will warm the hearts around Mt Smart way.

They were almost perfect on defence, repelling a staggering amount of Penrith pressure at their own end, and attacked with precision and power.

The Panthers didn't help themselves, with their lack of confidence evident in a ton of errors, including some you probably won't see again in the NRL this season.

It was a strong all round performance from the Warriors, led by the men in the engine room. Kodi Nikorima showed his value with another eye catching display, while Blake Green had his best game of the season.

Penrith has always been a tough trip for the Warriors, who have had a bleak run at the foot of the Blue Mountains. Not one of the Warriors' 17 who took the field on Friday night were present the last time the Auckland club tasted success at Panthers Stadium, back in 2012. It's been mostly misery; the 62-6 humiliation in 2013, the 22-6 loss in 2014 to miss the top eight on points differential and the damaging 36-4 thumping last year at the hands of the 'baby Panthers'.

Issac Luke was a late change for the Warriors, as Nathaniel Roache failed to recover from a back injury, while veteran Adam Blair missed the cut.

Penrith were desperate. One of the pre-season title favourites, they had held a series of crisis meetings during the week, but to no avail as the Warriors made an impressive start.

After defending their line for four consecutive sets, the visitors made the most of their first opportunity, with the mercurial Luke showing his value with a strong solo try. They extended their lead on the following set, after a 50 metre burst from dummy half by Nikorima, underlining the value of his raw pace. That stretched the Panthers, and Herbert powered over after Roger Tuivasa-Sheck had held up the defensive line.

After a positive beginning, the Panthers looked in disarray, with 22 missed tackles recorded in the first quarter alone and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak dropped the ball cold with the line open to sum up their plight. After going ahead, the Warriors then slightly lost their way. They forced their hand, pushed things, instead of earning the right to play. Penrith still looked out of sorts, with a collision between two players as they tried to field a Green kick demonstrating their confusion.

The highlight of the night was Nikorima's try in the 57th minute, as he dummied and stepped through for his first four pointer in Warriors' colours. Peta Hiku left with a suspected concussion early in the final quarter, but it didn't matter, as the result was sealed with 20 minutes to play. The Warriors had repelled more than 40 tackles, before Liam Martin finally crossed in the 71st minute. Agnatius Paasi had the final say, bulldozing over for his second try in two weeks, before Viliame Kikau's late consolation.

Warriors 30 (I Luke, P Herbert, K Nikorima, A Paasi tries; P Herbert 7 goals)
Panthers 10 (L Martin, V Kikau tries; N Cleary goal)
Halftime: 14-0

 

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