The New Zealand Warriors were left scratching their heads when they were defeated by the Newcastle Knights 24 -16 at Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe on Saturday afternoon.
The Warriors started strong, scoring 2 tries in the first 10 minutes courtesy of Adam Pompey and Viliami Vailea, but Newcastle hit back through Tyson Frizell in the 23rd minute and Dolphins recruit Edrick Lee in the 28th minute.
After half time, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak added more points for the Warriors in the 50th minute, only for Newcastle to hit back once more, with Enari Tuala scoring 3 minutes later. Tuala went on to score the final try of the game in the 68th minute which all but sealed the win for the visitors.
This match up brought up discussion amongst the supporters, seen as a battle between Kalyn Ponga and Reece Walsh to see who would be wearing the number 1 jersey for Queensland in game 1 of State of Origin on June 8th. While Ponga was overcoming a bout of the flu and hadn’t trained all week, he said he would be ready for the call up. While Walsh has been playing well and his kicking game is up there with the best, he may not have done enough just yet to receive a call up with his kicking efforts not so great this weekend.
Anthony Milford was involved in 3 out of Newcastle’s 4 tries in just his second game for the Novacastrians, including setting up the match winning try. With 14 runs and 113 metres, it is safe to say he is feeling at home in the Hunter region.
Newcastle prop Daniel Saifiti was taken from the field with a suspected medial cruciate ligament injury which has all but ruled him out of game 1 of State of Origin. Further tests will determine the extent of his injuries and how long he’ll be expected to be on the sidelines for.
“For him to come off and not return is not good signs” Knights coach Adam O’Brien said in the post-match press conference.
Warrior Marcelo Montoya will face the judiciary for the second time this season, placed on report for a high tackle in the second half on towering Newcastle centre Dominic Young, which also resulted in him spending 10 minutes in the sin bin.
The Warriors missed having their wrecking ball Addin Fonua-Blake out there, seen in a moon boot before the game as a result of the foot injury he picked up in last week’s game against the Dragons.
In the post-match press conference, Warriors coach Nathan Brown said ‘We were in total control in the first half then we kicked quite poorly…that let us down bad.” “We invited them into back into the contest”.
Round 13 sees the Warriors travel to Brookvale to take on the injury ravaged Sea Eagles, while Newcastle will enjoy a bye with 7 other teams in the lead up to State of Origin.
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS: 16 TRIES: A. Pompey, V. Vailea, D. Watene-Zelezniak GOALS: R. Walsh 1/3 PENALTY GOALS: R. Walsh 1/1
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS: 24 TRIES: T. Frizell, E. Lee, E. Tuala 2 GOALS: J. Clifford 4/4
LOZ’S STAND OUTS: A. Pompey (WAR), D. Watene-Zelezniak (WAR), E. Aitken (WAR), E. Lee (NEW), T. Frizell (NEW), E. Tuala (NEW)