Desperate for a win to stop a worrying losing streak, the New Zealand Warriors have come-from-behind to defeat the St George Illawarra Dragons.
With Kodi Nikorima making his club debut, all eyes were on him but it was the Dragons who burst out of the blocks early.
The opening try came when Dragons youngster Zac Lomax pounced on a high kick from half Ben Hunt.
Not long after, the second followed. It was Corey Norman’s replacement in Jai Field who would show off his skills.
He flew through the defensive line and left Warriors fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck for dead with pace, flying away to score.
The Dragons middle would crumble soon after, as the Warriors hit back when Agnatius Paasi powered over.
Not to be undone, however, a penalty goal and then a Cameron McInnes dummy half barge gave the Dragons the ascendancy once more.
It could have been worse had it not been for the Dragons errors as a result of perhaps trying too hard.
Showing glimpses of his quality, Nikorima pressed hard in the first half to no avail.
In the second, though, his pass to a surging Peta Hiku was enough for the Kiwi international to power past Lomax to score.
Tuivasa-Sheck then injected himself into the game, kick-starting a sweep play that saw a try for winger David Fusitu’a.
In a cruel reminder of that drop in the grand final during his Brisbane Broncos days, Hunt again dropped the ball that handed the Warriors a try.
Dampening what was a good performance for Hunt throughout the match, it ended up being the push the Warriors needed to score and win.
The left side of the Warriors took advantage as Nikorima and Tohu Harris combined to give Hiku his second.
The pressure, for now, at least for a while, is off Stephen Kearney.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor lamented his side’s lack of defence in the second half.
“In the second half ,we stopped working in defence,” McGregor said post-game.
“We didn’t stay connected when the ball went away from us, all the things we did well in the first 40 minutes we didn’t continue to do.
“…We lost a bit of belief and started looking at each other to do the job instead of getting the job done as individual themselves.”
After a tough loss last week and with morale somewhat low, Kearney said the win for his Warriors side was much needed.
“I thought there were some courageous performances out there tonight,” Kearney said.
“Morale and confidence was fairly low after the Knights game (a 36-18 loss last week), I thought they came to Mt Smart and gave us a bit of a touch up.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
2. Peta Hiku
- Jai Field