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NZ Warriors put Knights' finals hopes to the sword

Date

Brett Keeble

NZ Warriors 38 Newcastle 18

Winners are grinners: Manu Vatuvei manages a smile through a pile of Knights bodies after crashing through for a try.

Winners are grinners: Manu Vatuvei manages a smile through a pile of Knights bodies after crashing through for a try. Photo: Hannah Peters

The New Zealand Warriors all but snuffed out Newcastle's already faint finals hopes with a 38-18 thumping of the Knights at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.

In their first game since former owner Nathan Tinkler and his Hunter Sports Group management company severed ties, the Knights tried hard and hung in for long periods, but paid the price for unforced errors to slump to their fifth consecutive loss and ninth from 11 games this season.

Sitting equal last alongside Cronulla on six points, the Knights face the highly improbable task of having to win 10 of their last 13 games to return to the finals.

On the charge: Sam Tomkins of the Warriors.

On the charge: Sam Tomkins of the Warriors. Photo: Getty Images

Time
80.00
Team
NZW
Score
38
Team
NEW
Score
18
Warriors versus Newcastle
View Match Statistics
Players Mannering(2), Tomkins, Vatuvei(2), Townsend, Hurrell Tries 7 Tries 3 Players Roberts, Leilua, Rochow
Players Johnson 5/7 (71%) Conversions 5 Conversions 3 Players Mantellato 3/3 (100%)
Players Penalty goals 0 Penalty goals 0 Players
Players Field goals 0 Field goals 0 Players

The immediate future looks much rosier for the Warriors, who have won four of their past five games to move into the logjam on the edge of the top eight.

It was the Warriors' eighth win from their past nine games against the Knights at Mt Smart Stadium, and captain Simon Mannering celebrated the twin milestones of his 200th game for the club and 100th as skipper with two first-half tries including one from his own grubber kick.

Giant winger Manu Vatuvei also bagged a brace for the Warriors in their first appearance at their spiritual home ground this season, after three matches at Eden Park and another in Wellington, in front of an appreciative crowd of 19,068.

The Knights made an encouraging start, posting first points in the sixth minute when Tyrone Roberts caught Jarrod Mullen's kick to the middle to touch down under the posts. Towering winger Josh Mantellato, in his second NRL start as a late replacement for the injured Aku Uate (knee), converted from in front for a 6-0 lead.

Newcastle suffered a blow in the 10th minute when prop Kade Snowden took an accidental knee to the head trying to tackle Ben Matulino and he was helped from the field on wobbly legs.

Finding room to move up the middle and on the fringes, the Warriors struck back with three tries in 13 minutes -- all from kicks -- to take a 16-6 lead by the 24th minute.

Captain Mannering was an unlikely first try-scorer for the home team, regathering his own grubber kick to score in the 11th minute, and the Warriors backed that up with two more from Shaun Johnson cross-field bombs.

Manu Vatuvei, making up for an earlier handling error that led to Newcastle's first try, flew above Mantellato to bat Johnson's kick back for fullback Sam Tomkins to score in the 18th minute, then Vatuvei combined with Johnson again six minutes later to out-leap Mantellato and score one for himself.

Warriors wrecking-ball Konrad Hurrell suffered an apparent arm injury after in the 23rd minute but returned 11 minutes later, seemingly none the worse for wear.

Just when it looked like the Warriors would run away with the game, the Knights hit back in the 30th minute when centre Joey Leilua recovered a Roberts grubber behind the Warriors' defensive line to touch down.

Mantellato converted to cut the deficit to four points and the Knights would have been satisfied trailing by that margin at the break but playmaker Jarrod Mullen's attempted trick shot 90 seconds from half-time back-fired.

Inside their own defensive red zone, Mullen tried to chip kick for winger James McManus but the ball went out on the full to hand the ball back to the Warriors in prime field position.

The Warriors needed just a couple of plays before Feleti Mateo flicked a pass to Mannering, who crashed over for his second try.

Newcastle refused to yield, clawing back within four points again when Roberts spun in a tackle and passed for Robbie Rochow to score in the 53rd minute, and Mantellato's conversion made it 22-18.

But when Chris Houston spilled a pass under minimal pressure 25 metres from his own line, Ngani Laumape picked up the crumbs to send Chad Townsend over for his first try in Warriors colours and a 28-18 lead in the 63rd minute.

A restarted tackle count gave the Warriors another attacking set deep in Newcastle territory and Johnson and Tomkins combined to send Hurrell over in the corner in the 74th minute.

Vatuvei emerged from a pile of bodies on the Newcastle line to score his second try a minute before full-time, and Johnson converted from the sideline after the siren.

The Warriors made a clean sweep of the three grades, accounting for the Knights 34-12 in NSW Cup and 34-22 in the National Youth Cup (under-20s).

WARRIORS 38 (S Mannering 2, M Vatuvei 2, S Tomkins, C Townsend, K Hurrell tries; S Johnson 5 goals) d KNIGHTS 18 (T Roberts, J Leilua, R Rochow tries; J Mantellato 3 goals) at Mt Smart Stadium.

Half-time: Warriors 22-12

Crowd: 19,068

Referees: Gavin Badger, Gavin Reynolds

Report: 52min David Fusitua (Warriors) for striking

3 comments so far

  • Congrats to Simon (Captain) Mannering 200 NRL games, 100 games as Captain. Just another day at the office for the boys. Good to be home at Mt Smart

    Commenter
    wazman_nz
    Date and time
    June 01, 2014, 4:57PM
    • Oh how the once mighty Knight's have fallen. Congrats to the Warriors on a strong display.

      Commenter
      BigBoppa
      Date and time
      June 01, 2014, 7:04PM
      • It baffles me why ..The Dragons have sacked their coach, citing bad performances as the main reason, and lets face it, it came as no surprise as all the media vultures where screamming for his job after round 4, Matt Elliot was sacked ffom the Warriors, and once again murdered in the media prior to the season staring, and when the wariiors didn't start off theier season too well, they were baying for blood, and it is not the first time that a coach has been trialed by media and got the flick..Hence Steve Kearney and Ricky Stuart SO one has to ask WHY is nobody calling for Wayne Bennetts head, his performmances in the last 2 seasons have been woeful, especially this season, the knight can't win an argument. Now I am not saying that Wayne Bennett should be sacked, the question I ask is simply..How come all the know it all commentators are not screaming for this to happen as they usually do, look what they did to Dave Furner !! Are they scared of Wayne Bennett ??

        Commenter
        storm4
        Location
        Melbouren
        Date and time
        June 02, 2014, 9:52AM

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