The home side amazingly hanging tough, despite the odds and limited possession in the first half to come home with a wet sail to set up the big win.
The Warriors are now only one win away from the grand final after their 30-13 victory over the visiting Roosters side.
Trailing 13-6 at half time, the Warriors kept the Roosters scoreless in the second term and will now face a nervous Manly at the SFS next Saturday.
The Warriors remained composed despite the penalty try call in the first half now moving to 11 wins from 13 starts in recent weeks. The penalty try awarded to Rooster Anthony Minichiello in staggering circumstances, even more amazing considering that two video referees in the adjudication still got the call wrong – adding to the woes for NRL officials this year.
The Warriors got on the scoreboard early in the 2nd term, with Lance Hohaia ducking over for his 2nd touch down of the night to get the Warriors into overdrive and the 25,585-strong crowd going nuts.
Having already been dumb founded by a horror call by video referees Steve Clark’s and Phil Cooley to award Anthony Minichiello a penalty try, the crowd were left amazed yet again when the Warriors were denied their own try to Aidan Kirk a try out wide. With the video referees choosing to be controversial in awarding the Minichiello try, they should have at least been consistent and awarded the benefit of the doubt call to Kirk – but somehow, the officials refused to give the Warriors a look in, something that continued to amaze fans, Channel 9 Commentators and TV viewers alike.
Eventually some of the calls went the Warriors’ way, with consecutive infringements against the Roosters giving the Warriors something to work with.
The Roosters were starting to tire in defence, with former Sydney Roosters rake Ian Henderson finally giving the home side a lead they would never let go when he was given the benefit of the doubt by Clark as he placed down on Braith Anasta’s boot before rolling it off for a touch-and-go try. It was surely a case of a ‘make-up’ call by video referees Clark and Cooley, the try looking to have doubts, and certainly less likely than the Kirk no-try – but as so often happens in NRL, the video referee decision is an absolute lottery and once again, what many felt was the wrong call was thrown up.
Despite the fact that this wrong call made up for earlier blunders, put simply something has to be done. The video referee’s continue to make ridiculous calls, calls that amaze players, fans and viewers alike – the fact that a penalty try was awarded during the final series for the 2nd consecutive year despite little if any being awarded through the year – is an absolute joke. Even the fact that 2 video referees tried to assist each other in the box – common sense seems to go out the window, fortunately in this case – it didn’t effect the result luckily.
The Warriors seized on their momentum and continued to duck and drive from dummy half, their one out running bending the Roosters backwards and crushing the Sydney momentum. Soon after, Manu Vatuvei crashed over in the corner for another try with pivot Michael Witts sideline conversion putting the home side up by 11.
Kirk then kick-started an early party when he raced 80 metres to score an intercept try six minutes from time, the wing ensuring inspirational prop Ruben Wiki at least one more farewell before his oft-delayed retirement.
Hohaia scored after just three minutes to hand the Warriors the perfect start, but from there it was all the Roosters in the first half, with only their attacking play in the opposition’s red zone letting them down.
The Roosters levelled the match on 28 minutes when Mitchell Pearce backed up his own 40-20 to cross next to the post, but the Warriors were left seething just three minutes later when Hohaia was ruled to have taken out Minichiello as he attempted to chase down a rolling ball in the in-goal.
Clark took plenty of time in coming to his decision, the penalty try the second in as many years in finals games at Mt Smart Stadium, with the Warriors the beneficiaries in last year’s loss to Parramatta.
The plucky Warriors now return to Sydney to face the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, and must surely fancy their chances as the New Zealand side continues to ride a wave of form. Winning has become a habit for the impressive NZ side, they are now really starting to believe and not only possess the skills, but the size to worry the likes of Manly, Melbourne and Brisbane.