Saturday, March 14, 2009

Warriors remember Sonny Fai with win

The New Zealand Warriors have begun the season with a hard fought 26-18 win over the Parramatta Eels. Played in front of a 17000 strong crowd, they dominated possession and their ball control was superior to their rivals.

Having honoured the late Sonny fai with a minutes silence before kick-off, the Warrior forwards dominated play, going the length of the field consistently in their sets of six.

They lost Ben Mautilino early on for the whole match, leaving the Warriors interchange bench short.

Steve Price, celebrating his 300th first grade game, led the charge.

This paid dividends in the tenth minute, after Parramatta had been caught in possession on the last tackle, when new signing, Joel Moon, dived over for his teams first of four tries, which was converted by Denan Kemp.

Just three minutes later, Russel Packer, who was switched to starting prop shortly before the match, crashed over next to the goal posts, carrying three Parramatta defenders with him, to score. Once again Kemp, who had a perfect night with the boot, converted for a 12-0 lead.

Despite strong defence from the Warriors for the first quarter, and a repeat set forced onto Parramatta, in the 23rd minute, Parramatta struck back with their first try of the season, to Eric Grothe, halving the Warriors lead to six.

Lance Hohaia, brought on off the interchange, immediately added speed around the ruck and a new dimension to their attack.

His presence paid off in the 30th minute, darting ten metres from dummy half for the Warriors third try. The resulting conversion took them out to an 18-6 lead, which is where the score stayed until half-time.

The first half saw both teams completing 79% of their sets, but the warriors had had the better of possession and a 7-5 penalty count, thus dominating the half.

Early in the second half, Hohaia was at it again, as he busted through some disgraceful defence from Parramatta backs, BrettFinch and Luke Burt, touching down under the black dot, with Kemp once again adding the extra two points.

His night was soon at an end though, as he injured his knee in a tackle, and will now need an ultrasound scan this coming week, to see if their is any serious damage.

A 47th minute penalty to Kemp took the score out to 26-6, but this was the end of the Warriors night in terms of troubling the scoreboard.

Shortly after, Parramatta successfully broke the Warriors goal line defence when Jarred Hayne crossed untouched in the 50th minute. Burt converted, bring the score to 26-12, and giving them hope of coming back.

Nine minutes later, that hope soared even further as Kristian Inu, took in a flick pass from Renny Mateo, to score and bring the score after Burt's conversion to 26-18.

With the Warriors down to a two man bench, Parramatta had a chance to put the Warriors fitness to the test, but instead they turned in a mistake infested final twenty minutes, allowing the Warriors off the hook.

For Parramatta, the placing of Hayne at stand-off, despite a couple of handling errors, he was strong and did not appear to be out of place.

Nathan Hindmarsh had his usual busy game, making over fifty tackles. For Parramatta coach Daniel Anderson though, alot of hard work on his team beckons. Even though it is only the first week of the competition, they appear to be well behind other teams that have already played this weekend.

For the Warriors, the forwards turned in a very promising start to the season, going up the middle of the ruck regularly, and with relative ease.

The overall defensive effort was outstanding, showing that all the work done over the summer has paid off.

Joel Moon at stand-off, while not setting the world on fire, looks promising, and at centre, Jerome Ropati was particularly sharp.

Despite a couple of mistakes by the referees, the two referee system worked well. The play the ball area has been cleaned up alot as a result, and it is allowing the little men, such as Hohaia to prosper, as the game is speeding up.

A positive first up performance for the Warriors.

Next week, they head to Brookvale oval to take on the defending premiers,the Manly Sea Eagles in what promises to be the match of the round.

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