It was a much needed win for the New Zealand Warriors and one that will stop the questions surrounding the future of coach Matt Elliott, as they held off a surging North Queensland Cowboys side to hang on and win 20-16.
It was the Warriors first win in Townsville in 12 years and they burst out of the blocks with two quick tries to Glen Fisiiahi, putting the Warriors in a solid position.
The Cowboys failed to start the game as well as they should have and the Warriors had all the early momentum, before an improvement in the second half saw the Cowboys really knuckle down and try to make a fist of things.
Their comeback fell just short as with a chance to tie things up or score again, they lost the ball on the first tackle with 36 seconds to go, thus ruling out any chance of a win.
With most of the Warriors players running on New Zealand time, coach Matt Elliott praised the courage and effort of his players.
“I was really feeling for the boys,” said Elliott.
“We had a lot of guys cramping up there and the game finished at 1am our time.
“It was trying conditions for them but I thought we showed a lot of courage.”
The way the Warriors started the first and second halves was what pleased captain Simon Mannering the most but he knows that as the game went on, so did their intensity.
“We were sustaining some pressure and points came off that,” said Mannering.
“Probably the second half of that – the last 20 – just got really ugly for us but we toughed it out.”
It was a disappointing loss for the Cowboys, who have now lost two in a row and it was a game that left coach Paul Green rather frustrated.
“We’re not quite there yet and we’re not far off, either,” said Green.
“Tonight was frustrating.”
It is often the little things that let the Cowboys down and Green is aware of that.
“We get a little bit tight when we get under pressure,” Said Green.
“Our ball control tonight wasn’t high enough and our completion rate wasn’t high enough.”
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