Warriors keep NRL season alive after beating Newcastle Knights

Radio Sport, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 7 Jul 2019, 3:21PM
Sam Lisone scores the winning try for the Warriors. (Photo / Photosport)

Warriors keep NRL season alive after beating Newcastle Knights

Radio Sport, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 7 Jul 2019, 3:21PM

Warriors 24
Knights 20

The Warriors season is still alive – just.

If there was ever a game they had to win it was this one, especially as Newcastle were missing almost half their starting XIII.

They did, but made extremely hard work of it, with the result only confirmed by a Sam Lisone try with five minutes to go, to clinch a 24-20 victory.

The away-game result will be a massive relief for everyone associated with the Mt Smart club, as a defeat in the circumstances would have been almost terminal.

The Warriors were edgy all night, but showed great resolve to fight back after a flat first half, where nothing went right and they were down 12-2.

Ken Maumalo capped a superb display with two tries, while the Auckland team were also bereft of luck, with at least two crucial refereeing calls going against them.

There is still a lot to work on – and a better team would have punished for their first half display – but the team showed glimpses of their best in the second half with some compelling attack.

But we can't forget that the Knights were severly weakened, with five players on State of Origin duty, including David Klemmer, Mitchell Pearce and Daniel Saifiti, while Kalyn Ponga was out injured.

The Warriors worked hard in the first half, for no reward, but the biggest problem was the predictable nature of their attack.

It's been an issue all year; little variation, change of angles or second phase, just sweeping side to side moves against a set defensive line. It also didn't help that there were the usual range of errors and poor execution.

The Warriors spent most of the half camped in the Knights half but rarely came close, while Newcastle scored with their first real opportunity.

There was some doubt over the try – and there will probably be an apology from the NRL forthcoming – as the officials seemed to miss a clear Mason Lino knock on.

But aside from that, it continued a pattern from this Warriors season; lack of urgency from a fifth tackle rebound, followed by a poor defensive read, as a Lachlan Fitzgibbon offload put Sione Mata'utia over.

The Knights soaked up the pressure, their team of greenhorns gaining confidence with every set, which also kept the vocal crowd in the game.

David Fusitu'a came close after soaring for a Green bomb, before Fitzgibbon scored for the Knights on the hooter. There was an element of luck – as Fusitu'a failed to ground a Connor Watson grubber – but the Knights were rewarded for chancing their arm.

Thankfully, the Warriors snapped out of their slumber after halftime, with three tries in space of 12 minutes.

Peta Hiku grabbed the first – after a Blake Green double round – before the centre set up Maumalo with a wonderful no look pass at speed.

A Knights penalty – one of several conceded by Jazz Tevaga – briefly stopped the comeback – before Maumalo was over again, following nice work from Kodi Nikorima and Hiku.

Maumalo looked to have his hat trick in the 65th minute, with another spectacular diving finish, but the bunker claimed that the 24 year-old had lost the ball, when the end on replay suggested he regained control.

That mistake was accentuated moments later when Mata'utia crossed near the posts. That try was also contentious, as the officials ignored the plight of Hiku, who was concussed on the ground, though the try also exposed poor Warriors defence.

But Lisone was the late hero, as he showed great poise to scoop up a Green grubber and dive over.

Warriors 24 (K Maumalo 2, P Hiku, S Lisone tries; I Luke 3 cons, pen)
Knights 20 (S Mata'utia 2, L Fitzgibbon tries; M Lino 2 cons, 2 pens)
Halftime: 12-2


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