A near perfect New Zealand Warriors Warriors broke an NRL record on their way to an 18 – 0 shutout of the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The Warriors came into their round 3 clash with the Dragons with entire NRL community’s admiration for the sacrifices they have made to help make sure the game could restart.
But it’s fair to say there wasn’t too much expectation on the NZ side after a two month hiatus involving isolation, an injury crisis and even the flooding of their Gosford training ground.
Despite that, the Kiwi side started with intensity in their running game and defence.
The Dragons appeared to be caught off guard and the Warriors capitalised when Matt Dufty spilled a regulation kick from Blake Green.
Young Warriors prop Jaymane Taunoa-Brown was there to pounce, crossing for his first NRL try.
The Warriors then crossed again through another rookie, Elisa Katoa.
Kodi Nikorima took the ball to the line and executed a perfect no look pass.
The resulting conversion gave the Warriors a 12-0 lead.
The last 15 minutes of the first half were a bit of an arm wrestle.
The Dragons had the majority of the ball through this period but couldn’t crack the Warriors defence.
The Warriors didn’t give them any thing either, taking a 100 percent completion rate into the halftime break.
The Dragons started the second half on attack but when Josh Kerr knocked on inches from the Warriors line, the momentum swung back the Kiwi side.
Minutes later, the Warriors kicked a penalty goal when Corey Norman was ruled to have tackled Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in the air in a try-saving play.
Nikorima then broke the line from halfway to set up a quick play of the ball through Green.
The livewire half took the line on again and crossed over to push the Warriors out to 18 – 0.
With about 15 minutes remaining, the Warriors broke an NRL record when they become the first team to complete 40/40 sets.
It was the time the Warriors held an opposition scoreless in fourteen years.
It was a thoroughly deserved victory for a Warriors side who had been through so much.
However, as good as the Warriors were, they were helped by a Dragons side who offered very little in attack.
The Dragons are now under real pressure after their third loss of the season and will need to regroup quickly if they are to turn this season around.
The Warriors, who are forced to be away from family during the ongoing pandemic, quickly became everyone’s second team.
Their resolve and tenacity all on show, drew nothing but praise from Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney.
“I was pretty pleased for the boys; really proud of the way they’ve gone about the last couple of months and endured a great deal,” Kearney said.
“It didn’t stop today, Peta [Hiku] come off after half an hour, we had to put Karl [Lawton] out in the centres.”
The hard work and effort applied by his side is what pleased Kearney most.
“The way they’ve responded the last couple of months, just got on with the job, that’s what I was most pleased about,” the Warriors coach continued.
“Worked really hard prior to game today, worked really hard during game and got some reward for it. That’s what I was most pleased for.”
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Kodi Nikorima (WAR)
2. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (WAR)
- Eliesa Katoa (WAR)