In what was arguably one of their best performances of the season, the New Zealand Warriors have won narrowly against the Canterbury Bulldogs at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.
In a rare move by the Bulldogs to take a home game of theirs to New Zealand, the match went back and forth and different stages, with both teams and their players impressing.
The game finished up 24-20 in favour of the Warriors with the second half the telling factor, as the Warriors conceded just one try, whilst scoring three of their own.
The Warriors attack has been in full swing throughout the year so far, with the club scoring the most points out of any team in the NRL bar the North Queensland Cowboys.
But in many games, it has been their defence that has let them down. Their campaign was dealt a further blow when Roger Tuivasa-Sheck left the field due to a knee injury.
The first half was a topsy-turvy affair as the Warriors raced out to an 8-0 lead on the back of some good work from Shaun Johnson.
But the Bulldogs bounced back as the right side attack of Kerrod Holland and Sam Perrett put on a masterclass throughout the game.
There was no stopping the duo, as both ended up with two tries apiece and numerous breaks and assists to go with it.
Half-time seemed to jolt the Warriors, as they burst out of the blocks with renewed vigour and intensity, that ultimately won them the game.
Their defence held firm for the most part and despite the Dogs best efforts in attack late on in the game, they could not crack the Warriors line.
The win was just the Warriors third of the season, and a much needed one at that.
Compounding the Bulldogs loss was prop Tim Browne being placed on report for a trip.
Solid in the first half, Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman felt that the game was there to be won if they replicated those efforts with some improved defence.
“I thought we played really well that first half, we just clocked off a bit at the end, so we went into the second half with our heads held up,” Hoffman said.
“Obviously we would have liked not to concede those tries before half-time, but we have confidence in our defence, we know we are a good defensive team and we showed that with that second-half effort.”
A versatile player that drew strong praise from Warriors coach Andrew McFadden was Tuimoala Lolohea, who was forced to move to fullback after an injury to Tuivasa-Sheck.
“I thought we handled it really well,” McFadden said.
“Not sure yet [how serious Tuivasa-Sheck’s injury is], we will have to get some scans.”
The game was ultimately one that got away from the Bulldogs and coach Des Hasler rued those missed opportunities.
“The game was there for the taking, I think we had the game well in our grasp and we are pretty disappointed that we let this game slip away,” Hasler said.
“[It’s] disappointing, there’s no real other way to look at it.
“In both halves we just didnâ€™t manage the game well enough.”
3. Kerrod Holland
2. Sam Perrett
1. Shaun Johnson
Warriors 24 (David Fusitu’a, Blake Ayshford 2, Jonathan Wright, Tuimoala Lolohea tries; Shaun Johnson 2 goals) Def. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 20 (Sam Perrett 2, Kerrod Holland 2 tries; Kerrod Holland 2 goals). Half-time: 14-8. On report: Tim Browne (trip).