New Zealand v Canberra
Joel Edwards of the Raiders looks on after giving away an intercept pass to Shaun Johnson of the Warriors. Photo: Hannah Peters
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS 54 (Shaun Johnson 2; Ben Matulino, Konrad Hurrell, Ngani Laumape, Sam Tomkins, Manu Vatuvei, Jayson Bukuya tries; Johnson 9 goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 12 (Jarrod Croker 2 tries; Croker 2 goals) at Eden Park. Referees: Gavin Morris, Henry Perenara. Crowd: 18,165
3 Shaun Johnson
2 Konrad Hurrell
1 Sam Tomkins
Two weeks after conceding 42 points in the opening 40 minutes against Manly, the Raiders were again caught at the starting blocks in Auckland. The Warriors were in total control from the outset, beating the clock with 18 points inside the first 17 minutes. Jarrod Croker's AFL-style take in the 20th minute helped the Raiders get back in the contest, but it was only an abberration as Ngani Laumape crossed on the right wing six minutes before half-time. The Warriors led 24-6 at the break courtesy of Shaun Johnson's boot and it just got worse after that.
The 42-point margin was the biggest losing margin by the Raiders against the Warriors since the Warriors came into the competition in 1995. The previous biggest was 34 points, set in last year's 50-16 thumping at Mt Smart Stadium in the wake of coach David Furner being sacked. It was also the Warriors' first win at their part-time home at Eden Park at their sixth attempt dating back to 2011. And you couldn't imagine a side has conceded more than 50 points in two consecutive games.
SELECTION MOVES BACKFIRED
The benchings of representative stars Josh Papalii and David Shillington didn't have any impact on the Raiders as they slumped to their sixth loss from nine games this year. Both were dropped from the starting side as a result of the 54-18 flogging at the hands of Manly a fortnight ago. Papalii's spot in the Queensland Origin team must be in grave doubt after he was left out of the Australian team. Shillington will also need a big couple of weeks to get back his Maroons jersey.
WHERE NOW FOR TUPOU
It could be unfair to single out one player when a team gets absolutely flogged, but Raiders winger Bill Tupou has been cruelly exposed in several games this season. Tupou was again caught out defensively, this time by his former team as the Warriors continued to target him on Canberra's left edge defence. The Raiders don't have many options to replace Tupou on the left wing. Untried youngster Jeremy Hawkins might be worth a try, but his form has been inconsistent, as has Sami Sauiluma, who had a shocker in his one game this season against Penrith.
RED HOT WARRIORS
As bad as the Raiders were, the Warriors must be credited for unleashing their trademark free-flowing game. Halfback Shaun Johnson was superb as was centre Konrad Hurrell, who put his controversial social media video behind him to torment the Raiders defenders. With the Warriors in this sort of form, they will be a tough side to handle and dangerous if they can find consistency. Lock them in for the finals.