Warriors grab extra time victory
Despite a lacklustre first half and being 16-0 down at the half-time break, the Warriors have stormed home to a 17-16 extra time win over the Sydney Roosters at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland today. It wasn't their best football by any means, however they showed a willingness to hang in under pressure when things were not going their way, and fight back.
With Brent Tate out for the season, the Warriors desperately needed some of their other injured stars back, and they got their wish with the return of Steve Price, Manu Vatuvei and Lance Hohaia all returning. Hohaia filled in at fullback for the injured Wade McKinnon with Aidan Kirk being dropped from the line-up.
The first six minutes were tit for tat as both forward packs made good ground and had one chance each, but neither side could hold onto the ball at crucial times. In the seventh minute the Warriors were hard on attack and Lance Hohaia dived over besides the the Roosters right upright, but was adjudged to have lost control of the ball as he went to force it by the video referee.
Two minutes later the Roosters have a chance to score, but Joel Moon intercepts the last pass and diffuses the situation.
In the 18th minute the Roosters trap the Warriors in their own in-goal area and force a goal line drop-out. From the ensuing set of six, they spread the ball wide to the Soliola on the eastern side of the field who scores the try and points of the match, which Craig Fitzgibbon converts, to give the Roosters a 6-0 lead.
Three minutes after, the roosters once again trap the Warriors in goal and force another goal line drop-out. On tackle four of the next set, Roosters captain, Braith Anasta, pierces the Warriors defence and off-loads a short ball to Keith Shackleton, who dives over despite the best intentions of two would be tacklers. Referee Alan Shortall awards the try, despite the fact he clearly needs a pair of glasses to see the blatant forward pass from Anasta, that he misses.
Fitzgibbon conversion attempt hits the upright and misses. Roosters 10-0
In the 26th minute, all and sundry were subjected to what is possibly the most boring aspect of rugby league, the referees lecture. The players take no notice of what the referee is saying and the sooner referees boss, Robert Finch, tells his officials to stop the talking and start sinbinning, the better.
The Warriors never looked like being in the match for the rest of the half, conceding another try in the 36th minute, when Mitchell Pierce, son of New South Wales great, Wayne Pierce, scythed through the Warriors defence, beating three defenders on hi way to dotting down.
With Fitzgibbons conversion, this took the score to 16-0, where it remained until after half-time.
The Warriors had to make sixty more tackles than their counterparts in the first half and it was questionable whether they would have the energy to make a comeback. And comeback they did. This is a different Warriors outfit to some of the past and hanging in, is something they do well, nowadays. With the help of a raucous 16000 crowd, they mounted what was to be a most impressive second half renaissance.
Now, it is imperative that this paragraph is used to inform readers of this story of the imminent arrival on the scene of a very eminent fellow, in the minute fifty-and-two. A man. A man named Stacey. Stacey Jones that is. Having hid in the shadows of obscurity for the first 51 minutes, this man of shorter height stature, but one of lofty playing status, decides to impart his large amount of natural aptitude on the match, and from a scrum twenty out from the Roosters line, does a run around play and slashes past Anasta and Willie Mason to finally get the Warriors scoring account going.
The conversion is gained and the roosters have a ten point advantage, 16-6.
The warriors chant once again goes up and the home team start to dominate the match. Only a minute later, Jones kicks for the Roosters line and as Roosters fullback, SAM Perrott gathers the ball, Denam Kemp, chasing through knocks the ball loose. After a scrambe for the ball, the referee awards a Roosters goal line drop-out. The warriors threaten in the next set but Nathan Fien kick the ball too long.
Despite this the Warriors keep pounding the Roosters goal line and in the 61st minute, Stacey Jones puts up a bomb of pin point accuracy, that the Opposition fail to clean up and Jerome Ropati is on hand to dive on the spilled ball and bring the Warriors within four points after Kemp converts. Roosters 16-12.
The next eight minutes becomes a mistake ridden knock-on fest, as both teams do their best to give each other a bunch of splendid opportunities to close the match out. Neither side can though.
However the Warriors do even the score up in the 70th minute, as Jones puts up another bomb with equal accuracy as the one that Ropati scored from. This time it is big Manu Vatuvei, in his first match back from injury who pounces on the loose ball and touches down to bring the score back to sixteen a piece. The conversion from Kemp, despite heading in the right direction, prefers to pull up short, hence the score remains the same.
For the remaining eight minutes the Roosters look shot, and lost for notions. The Warriors make all the play with Sam Rapira particularly strong on the charge.
They have a chance two minutes from full time to close the match out, but Ian Henderson, instead of going right to Jones who has space and time to pot a goal, goes to Fien on the left. Fien attempts a drop goal but it is a rushed attempt and misses.
With that miss, the match goes into extra time. Price wins the toss and decides to kick-off, hoping to trap the Roosters deep in their own half. This cunning ploy decides not to avail itself in the affirmative and work as the Roosters manage to get to the half-way mark and kick on the last. Hohaia gathers the ball and manages to evade two defenders and scoot along the field for forty minutes, when inexplicably he decides to kick ahead despite having Kemp on his inside wih open space. The ball goes close to the sideline and as Perrot regathers for the Roosters, he is tackled by Kemp and manhandled over the sideline.
The Warriors get a scrum feed and head straight for the goal posts. On the Fourth tackle and in the third minute of extra time, local hero Jones slots the winning field goal, give the Warriors a hard fought one point victory.
For the Warriors, Jones was instrumental in the victory. His kicking game in the Roosters twenty was sublime.
Hohaia, despite having not played for five weeks looked sharp, and will have benefited greatly from this hit-out. He is one of the players crucial to the Warriors hopes this season.
Sam Rapira was the pick of the forwards. His go forward in the last fifteen minutes was indeed an important factor in the comeback that the warriors made. Ian Henderson made good ground up the middle of the ruck when he came on, but some of his decision making in the final few minutes of normal time, as well as in extra time left alot to be desired.
A result that should see the Warriors lift themselves back into the top eight and the confidence of a win going into a tough match next week against the Melbourne Storm, in Melbourne.