The New Zealand Warriors have defeated the North Queensland Cowboys 18-6 in front of 20,082 fans at Mt. Smart Stadium. The victory means the Warriors leapfrog the Cowboys on the ladder and ensures they will finish no lower than 6th place.
It was a clinical performance from the home team who only had one incomplete set at half time, despite the greasy conditions.
The Warriors opened the scoring through enigmatic winger Krisnan Inu. The Cowboys inexplicably let a Warriors bomb bounce and Shaun Johnson flicked the bouncing ball out to Inu who slid over in the corner. There was a question mark over whether the Warriors chasers were onside on the kick, but after only one viewing of the replay Video Ref Chris Ward gave the green light.
The Cowboys hit back in the 20th minute through a well constructed play, as Matt Bowen gave the final pass for Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa to dive over. It was to be the only real highlight for the Cowboys as the Warriors were rarely threatened.
The Warriors regained the lead in the 27th minute through Lance Hohaia, playing in his last home game for the club, as he finished off a brilliant team try. It was started by James Maloney - who starred for the home team - when he broke straight through the Cowboys defence before finding Mannering who then offloaded to Hohaia.
The Warriors scored their final try in the 63rd minute when Shaun Johnson threw a short looping pass from dummy-half for Inu to dive over in the corner and collect a double.
The Warriors were the beneficiary of several fortuitous decisions throughout the match but took their chances when it mattered and muscled up in defence. It was by no means a bad performance from the Cowboys, but they will need far more from their star play-maker Jonathan Thurston heading into the finals.
If results go as expected for the rest of the round, the Warriors will have a mouth-watering clash with the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, while the Cowboys will have to travel down to Sydney to face the Manly Sea Eagles.
New Zealand Warriors 18 defeated North Queensland Cowboys 6
National Rugby League - Round 26 - Saturday September 3, 2011 5:30pm
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Referee: Tony Archer and Ashley Klein
Video Referee: Chris Ward
Touch Judges: Ricky MacFarlane and David Abood
Halftime: New Zealand Warriors 12 North Queensland Cowboys 6
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - James Maloney (3 Conversions)
2 Points - Shaun Johnson
1 Point - Matthew Scott
New Zealand Warriors (18)
Tries: Lance Hohaia, Krisnan Inu (2)
Conversions: James Maloney (3/3)
Penalty Goals: James Maloney (0/1)
North Queensland Cowboys (6)
Tries: Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa
Conversions: Johnathan Thurston (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Hello and welcome to this evening's live coverage of the clash between the New Zealand Warriors and the North Queensland Cowboys at Mt Smart Stadium. Both teams have an outside chance of collecting a home semi-final by finishing in fourth place with a win tonight.
Warriors: Shaun Berrigan is out and Lewis Brown comes into the centres.
Cowboys: Scott Bolton starts at lock for the injured Dallas Johnson while Leeson Ah Mau comes onto the bench.
1 min: KICK OFF! The Cowboys kick off and the Warriors have first use of the football.
2 min: Penalty Cowboys. Mateo penalised for slowing the play-the-ball down and the Cowboys have a tap on halfway.
4 min: Penalty Warriors. Kevin Locke tackled high as he works it out from his try-line. Warriors start their set on their 30m line.
4 min: Penalty Warriors. Another penalty, this time against Matt Scott and the Warriors have the ball 20m from the Cowboys line.
6 min: Dropout Warriors. Matt Scott makes a break through some lazy defence to put the Cowboys on the attack. Thurston grubbers into the in-goal on the last tackle and Locke is wrapped up.
8 min: Bowen flicks the ball on to Tonga and a forward pass is called. Harsh call as replays show the ball travelled backwards.
10 min: Penalty Cowboys. The Warriors are penalised for being offside on an attacking kick but Thurston doesn't find touch with the penalty kick and Inu does very well in returning the football.
11 min: Scrum Warriors. Aaron Payne knocks the ball forward in making a tackle and the Warriors have a scrum 20m from the Cowboys line.
13 min: TRY
The Cowboys inexplicably let a Warriors bomb bounce and Shaun Johnson flicks the bouncing ball out to Inu who dives over in the corner. Maloney slots the conversion from the sideline.
New Zealand Warriors 6-0
16 min: 20m tap Warriors. Bill Tupou takes a Thurston kick cleanly in the in-goal and the Warriors have a 20m tap.
18 min: Scrum Cowboys. Shaun Johnson drives the ball into touch and the Cowboys have a scrum on their 10m line.
20 min: TRY
Running off a second-man play Matt Bowen holds the ball up before giving a beautiful pass to put Kalifa Fai-Fai Loa over in the corner. Thurston hooks the ball over from the sideline.
24 min: Kevin Locke knocks on in trying to collect a terrific Shaun Johnson bomb and the Cowboys have the ball on their 30m line.
26 min: Penalty Warriors. Scott Bolton penalised for being offside and the Warriors have a tap on their 40m line.
27 min: TRY
Great try to the Warriors! James Maloney breaks straight through the Cowboys line and finds Mannering inside him who then offloads to Lance Hohaia to score.
New Zealand Warriors 12-6
30 min: Ray Thompson gets a short kick away under pressure and the Warriors start their set on their 40m line.
31 min: Scrum Cowboys. Kevin Locke offloads the ball into Row C and the Cowboys have a scrum on their 30m line.
33 min: 20m tap Cowboys. The Warriors kick the ball dead on the last and the Cowboys have a 20m tap.
34 min: Penalty Cowboys. Long advantage played to the Cowboys after Michael Luck takes out Ray Thompson without the ball and the penalty is eventually awarded.
36 min: Penalty Cowboys. James Maloney takes an intercept on his own try-line and is streaking away but the play is called back for a penalty to the Cowboys.
38 min: The Cowboys have another set off a penalty but Glenn Hall knocks a Matt Bowen pass on.
39 min: Scrum Warriors. Ash Graham knocks a Shaun Johnson chip kick on and the Warriors have a scrum on the Cowboys 20m line.
40 min: A lot of dancing from the Warriors halves but the play goes backwards ending with a Joel Moon kick which Graham cleans up.
40 min: Half Time- The Warriors lead the Cowboys 12-6 at half time after some enterprising football from both teams in greasy conditions at Mt Smart Stadium.
42 min: Dropout Cowboys. Shaun Johnson puts a bomb up and Fai-Fai Loa does brilliantly to take it under pressure from Locke.
44 min: Scrum Cowboys. A forward pass is thrown by the Warriors and the Cowboys have a scrum on their 40m line.
45 min: Penalty Warriors. The Cowboys penalised for holding the man down and the Warriors have a tap on their 40m line.
46 min: Hohaia breaks through the line to put the Warriors on the attack. Locke grubbers the ball and Bowen cleans up.
48 min: Harsh forward pass call against Aaron Payne from dummy-half and the Warriors have a scrum on the Cowboys 30m line.
50 min: Scrum Warriors. Ash Graham knocks on as he tries to collect a cross-field kick and the Warriors have a scrum 10m from the Cowboys line.
51 min: After getting 6-again from a fortuitous falcon Maloney knocks the ball on cold.
55 min: Penalty Warriors. Another lucky call goes the Warriors way, as the Cowboys are penalised for having hands in the ruck.
56 min: Dropout Cowboys. Thurston bats a Maloney grubber onto Bowen in his own in-goal but Bowen is trapped.
59 min: Scrum Warriors. Payne finds touch on the last following a big hit from Ben Matulino on Matt Scott.
61 min: Thurston with a poor option as he kicks dead on the last tackle. Warriors with a 20m tap.
63 min: TRY
Shaun Johnson throws a short looping pass from dummy-half to Inu who dives over in the corner. Poor defence from the Cowboys.
New Zealand Warriors 18-6
67 min: The Cowboys shift the ball right and Bowen sends Ash Graham away down the right flank. Shaun Johnson makes a good covering tackle.
70 min: Brent Tate throws a forward pass as he tries to send Ash Graham away and the Warriors have the ball on their 20m line.
72 min: Penalty Cowboys. Mara penalised for a poor play-the-ball and the Cowboys have a tap 45m from the Warriors line. If they are any chance of winning the game they'll need to score soon.
74 min: Dropout Warriors. Good scrambling defence from the Warriors finishing with Locke knocking a Gavin Cooper kick dead.
77 min: PENALTY GOAL ATTEMPT
Feleti Mateo brushes off a few tacklers before Thurston eventually drags him down. Thurston is penalised for a second effort and the Warriors opt for the penalty goal to wind the clock down.
New Zealand Warriors 18-6
79 min: Scott Bolton offloads the ball straight into the hands of Jacob Lillyman. Shaun Johnson kicks the ball into touch as he looks for Inu.
80 min: Fulltime- The Warriors have defeated the Cowboys 18-6 at Mt. Smart Stadium to leapfrog the Cowboys and ensure they will finish no lower than 6th place.