The New Zealand Warriors defeated the Brisbane Broncos 20 – 6 at their 2022 home ground Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe on what was a hot Saturday afternoon.

It was always going to be a good clash between the 2 teams, with ex-Broncos Kodi Nikorima, Matt Lodge and Reece Walsh all lining up against their previous club.

The Warriors, who are based north of Brisbane for the season, have many saying they are the 4th QLD side in the competition.

The game was also Shaun Johnson’s return from a pectoral injury that had kept him sidelined for the last 3 weeks.

Warriors supporters in the grandstands we’re excited to see him back in action and maintained hope that he could lead the boys to a win.

The Warriors got on the board early in front of the sell out crowd, with on-loan Bronco Jesse Arthars going over in the 6th minute from a Shaun Johnson pass, with Reece Walsh adding the extras.

The Broncos had a good break through Corey Oates who took off down the field, running the best part of 40 meters before he was brought to the ground by Reece Walsh.

With a set restart in their favour, the Broncos had an opportunity to get some points in the set but Selwyn Cobbo passed the ball forward 10 meters out from the line.

The stats were all on the Warriors’ side in the first 10 minutes, with 68% possession and 5 out of 6 sets completed for a completion rate of 83%.

They continued testing the Broncos’ defence and weren’t about to let them back into the game, putting on some big hits and forcing errors where they could.

In the 22nd minute the Warriors went over again, with Jesse Arthars grabbing his second try for the day off a Reece Walsh pass followed by another successful conversion from Reece Walsh.

Broncos recruit Adam Reynolds got them on the board scoring his first try for the club, kicking a grubber and running in to put the ball down after Reece Walsh overran while defending the line.

Reynolds then added the extras, and the Broncos were back in the game.

Warrior Marcelo Montoya went over in the corner courtesy of a flick pass from Adam Pompey in the 36th minute to take a 10 point lead into the half time break.

At half time, Adam Reynolds said that the Broncos had a “sloppy performance with errors and ill discipline”.

He went on to say they needed to come out and put pressure on the Warriors in the second half to get the win.

Cooper Cronk was impressed with the first half efforts by the Warriors, saying, “The Warriors are playing some pretty good football; I really like the start for the Warriors.”

“You’ve gotta give the Warriors a lot of credit. I think they’ve defended their goal line outstandingly well”.

While the Warriors came back out after the much needed break out of the heat ready to continue what they started, the Broncos appeared to have recharged their batteries just enough to get through the second half.

There were some more bone rattling big hits and big running meters from both sides, but the Broncos struggled to execute a play that would result in points and the Warriors were looking to capitalise on errors made the away side.

20 minutes into the second half, the Broncos found themselves in unfamiliar territory with 52% possession.

Another drinks break for both sides gave the players a chance to regather and focus on what they set out to do.

After a pass from Shaun Johnson that was meant for Arthars, Corey Oates took a great intercept and looked like he was about to take off and run 90 meters to the other end of the field, but he knocked the ball on in the process.

Everyone would have loved to see the chase, with the likes of Reece Walsh and Adam Pompey who both would have sprinted after the giant winger.

Again, another opportunity for the Broncos to score but it slipped through their fingers, literally.

There were some questionable plays from the Broncos, one in particular, where Adam Reynolds was screaming for the ball on the last tackle only for Tesi Niu who was playing dummy half, to pass a ball forward for Kobe Hetherington to scoop up, no where near Reynolds.

Coach Kevin Walters was seen on the sideline looking quite frustrated with the decisions being made among his players.

With 12 minutes left and quite a few underwhelming sets from both sides, the Broncos again come up with an error, this time with a loose carry from Kotoni Staggs.

Shaun Johnson nearly found himself grabbing a try with a nice kick towards the in goal but it bounced between Johnson and the leaping Oates who managed to take the ball dead and deny Johnson a 4 pointer.

Reece Walsh added 2 more points to the board through a penalty kick after Thomas Flegler was penalised and put on report for a hip drop tackle on Ben Murdoch-Masila.

The hulking forward was assisted off the field with what appeared to be a foot injury as a result.

The Broncos were confident they had grabbed some points after a kick chase where Reece Walsh followed the ball into the in goal area and waited for the ball to go dead, only for Broncos young gun Selwyn Cobbo to come through and try to ground it at the last second.

After a review by the bunker, the ruling was Cobbo knocked on and the Broncos were back to the drawing board on how they could pull off a win with five minutes left.

Reece Walsh added the final two points through another penalty goal, the icing on the cake for the Warriors. 

The Warriors continued to dig deep and not let the Broncos in, and they took the competition points in front of 9620 spectators and placing them inside the top eight.

Broncos coach Kevin Walters said that he believes Tom Flegler will be in “a fair bit of strife” after he was put on report for a total of 4 times throughout the game – equal with the NRL record sets by Sydney Roosters hard man Victor Radley who was put on report 4 times against the Broncos in 2021.

“He’s on report four times, so obviously that’s not good for Tom or the club”.

“We’ll just have to look at the vision and see where he’s at with everything”.

Flegler, who was returning from a suspension from last year, was put on report for a grade one dangerous tackle/hip drop on Wayde Egan, a grade one offence for a late hit on Addin Fonua-Blake, sent for 10 after a cannonball tackle on Josh Curran and was also put on report for the hip drop tackle on Ben Murdoch-Masila.

Flegler is facing a possible 3 game ban and approximately $3000 in fines.

Warrior Jazz Tevaga is also on report and facing a possible 3 game ban for a cannonball tackle on Pat Carrigan, who left the field with a suspected MCL injury.

Tevaga can have the charge downgraded to a 2 game ban with an early guilty plea.

Warriors coach Nathan Brown said he had not seen the cannonball tackle by Tevaga, but also made a suggestion that the Broncos not be quick to criticise as “they had a few things themselves”.

“I won’t be getting in any slanging match or having a go at anyone, it was a hard game, a few blokes have got a few things wrong”.

New Zealand Warriors: 20 J. Arthars 2, M. Montoya GOALS: R. Walsh 2/3 PENALTY GOALS: R. Walsh 2/2

Brisbane Broncos: 6 (A. Reynolds GOAL: A. Reynolds 1/1)

Casualty Ward: A. Kelly (BRI) suspected Lisfranc (midfoot) fracture, P. Carrigan (BRI) grade 2 MCL sprain (partial tear), B. Murdoch-Masila (WAR) suspected foot injury – seen after game with ice on right ankle but walking unassisted.

Judiciary: T. Flegler (BRI) late tackle, dangerous tackle, dangerous tackle and hip drop tackle. J. Tevaga (WAR) Cannonball tackle.

Loz’s Stand Outs: J. Curran (WAR), (J. Arthars (WAR), A. Fonua-Blake (WAR), S. Cobbo (BRI), T. Niu (BRI), C. Oates (BRI)

By Loz

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