The Warriors have been beaten 28-22 by a valiant Newcastle Knights team in an encounter that produced plenty of magic moments for the highlights reel. David Fusitu’a and the Mata’utia brothers were the stars of the show as we got to witness first had just how good the wingers are in the NRL.
The Warriors started the match brightly, threatening to once again strike early against a Knights team that had a spring in its step following their dramatic win over Melbourne last weekend. The Knights survived the early raid and quickly moved to assert their dominance in the match. They were provided with an early chance following a couple of Warriors penalties and gifted the ball 10 meters from the Warriors line after Ben Henry fumbled the ball from a ‘nothing-looking’ kick from Mullen.
[quote]...the crowd was treated to the spectacle of David Fusitu’a defying gravity to score an absolutely amazing try on his return to first grade [/quote]
The Warriors defence came up big early on to keep the charging Knights scoreless but they did themselves few favours as they gave away a number of penalties to allow the Knights to maintain possession and position. The Knights did not require too many invitations to strike, producing a brilliant try to open the scoring. Mullen sent a dab over the Warriors defence for Sione Mata’utia to run onto and easily finish for his first try of the afternoon. A missed conversion attempt had the Knights leading 4-0 early on. This was the first time since round 15 that the Warriors had failed to open the scoring.
While the Knights were putting the Warriors under immense pressure, it was the Warriors’ error and penalty count which was hurting them the most. With the Warriors looking prepared to give possession back to the Knights at every opportunity, it did not take long for the Knight to cross over for their second try of the afternoon. This time it was centre Leilua powering over the line to give the Knights an 8-0 lead with 20 minutes played.
To put it in perspective, the Knights’ completion rate was 11/12 compared to the Warriors’ 6/9, and the penalty count was 5-2 in favour of the home side. The Knights were playing an adventurous brand of football, offloads and all, that oozed confidence. It was one way traffic in the opening quarter of the match and the Knights were quick to capitalise on their momentum. They played a slick scrum move in the 25th minute which saw Sione Mata’utia race away for his second try of the afternoon. There was some controversy around the try as Shaun Johnson was impeded by the referee from making a defensive play, but that did not change the scoreboard. 25 minutes played and the Knights were up 14-4.
[quote]The Knights were playing an adventurous brand of football, offloads and all, that oozed confidence [/quote]
Offload scoresheet after 30 minutes: Knights 8 – 0 Warriors. The Knights were up in almost every department.
Up until this point the tries were good, but they were about to get magical. The Warriors finally worked themselves into a chance in the final 10 minutes of the half and the crowd was treated to the spectacle of David Fusitu’a defying gravity to score an absolutely amazing try on his return to first grade. It was special, really special. Just go out and watch the highlights. I’ll just say – go watch the highlights!
Score 14-4 with less than 10 minutes left to play in the half.
The try seemed to give the Warriors some confidence and they were over again only minutes later when big Manu dotted down his 133rd career try. Manu was gifted the ball as it dropped in front of him, allowing him to scope it up and score one of the easier tries of his career. A sweet sideline conversion from Chad Townsend saw the Warriors go into the break trailing 14-10. After all the pressure they had been under, to be trailing by four was a good result for the visiting team.
The Warriors burst into the second half with a try within two minutes to Nathan Friend. The Knights defence was none existent and Friend helped himself from dummy half to a rare four pointer. Score levelled, game on.
[quote]If there is any lesson we can take from this match, it is that the wingers in the NRL are just incredible. [/quote]
While the Warriors came it out with some real purpose in their play, it was the Knights who scored next. Not to be outdone, Sione Mata’utia decided to produce his own gravity defying four pointer to give the Knights a 20-14 lead. The momentum was back in the Knights’ favour and the Warriors were doing it tough trying to stay in the match.
The Knights extended their lead to eight points in the 62nd minute after the Warriors gave away a penalty close to the posts. With the wind in their sails the Knights found themselves crossing over again in the 65th minute through Chanel Mata’utia. Mata’utia raced around Manu on the left flank to cross over for his first try of the day and give the Knights a 26-14 lead.
The Warriors were able to give themselves a lifeline only minutes later as they crossed over after forcing a repeat set. The Warriors put together a structured and composed attacking play which saw David Fusitu’a record a slightly easier four pointer and pull the scores back to 26-18.
The good work was undone not long after as Mateo put in a late hit on Tyrone Roberts and gifted the Knights another chance for a penalty kick which Gidley easily converted to give the Knights a 10 point lead with 6 minutes to play.
The Warriors came up big after attempting a short kick-off which they managed to recover and produced another try to stay in the match. Manu Vatuvei, not to be outdone by the other wingers, produced another brilliant try finish to get the Warriors within six of the Knights. The Warriors almost produced another try following the kick-off only for Sam Tomkins to throw an intercept pass with the try line begging. So close for the Warriors but, unfortunately, no dice.
There was still enough time left for Johnson to try and weave his magic just before the final siren but the Knights did what they had to do to hold on, winning 28-22 and continuing their fine form. The loss puts a dent in the Warriors’ finals charge, but this was a much deserved win for the Knights. If there is any lesson we can take from this match, it is that the wingers in the NRL are just incredible.
This really was an entertaining encounter - highlights to follow.
Next week we're back at Mt Smart to face the Roosters. Bring it on!
What did you think of today's match?