Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
New Zealand Warriors 26 v North Queensland Cowboys 0
at Mt Smart (Ericsson) Stadium
Referee: Gavin Badger
North Queensland Cowboys back rower Luke O'Donnell has been dramatically sent off as the New Zealand Warriors posted a 26-0 victory at Mount Smart Stadium tonight.
O'Donnell was given his marching orders by referee Gavin Badger in the 69th minute after the Australian second rower delivered a forearm to the head of Warriors centre Lance Hohaia. Hohaia scored a minute later and again in the 76th minute to complete the thrashing.
The Cowboys began the match with repeat sets at the Warriors' line but the home side didn't take long to get on top with centre Simon Mannering posting the first four-pointer in the 15th minute.
The Warriors continued to dominate with rookie forward Sam Rapira [pictured] finding a gap just wide of the ruck to score in the 39th minute. While there was a question mark over the lead up to the try - the referee appearing to miss a Warriors knock-on - the half time lead of 12-0 over a disinterested Cowboys was a fair reflection of the contest.
The Cowboys woes continued in the 43rd minute with winger Manu Vatuvei crossing out wide courtesy of an overlap, and then improving his position to score under the posts. At 18-0, the match was won and lost.
The Warriors played to the wet conditions well and appeared to being grinding it out for much of the second half. The Cowboys however became increasingly frustrated, culminating in the send off of O'Donnell late in the match.
The result sees the Cowboys crash to their fourth consecutive loss and 11th position on the NRL ladder, pending other results. The 12th-placed Warriors are four points out of the top eight.
New Zealand Warriors: 26
Tries: Lance Hohaia (2), Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Sam Rapira
Goals: Lance Hohaia 3/6
North Queensland Cowboys: 0
By the Clock:
A cold and slippery night in Auckland.
A number of line up changes, most notably Ruben Wiki returning for the Warriors. For the Cowboys Matt Bowen has moved to half back and Ashley Graham to full back.
Warriors kick off...!
3 min: NEWS Cowboys get the early opportunities with repeat sets deep in the Warriors half. Warriors weather the early pressure.
10 min: Still 0-0.
15 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Centre Simon Mannering scores out wide after a simple backline movement finds the gap. Follows a handling error from acting Cowboys full back Ashley Graham. Lance Hohaia adds the extras.
23 min: NEWS Still 6-0 to the home side. A number of handling errors creeping in with the Cowboys being the greater offender. Warriors enjoying a little more possession and field position.
31 min: PENALTY GOAL New Zealand Warriors
Hohaia from almost in front and Warriors go further ahead. Cowboys penalised for late flop.
39 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Forward Sam Rapira hits the hole from 15m out and scores after Jerome Ropati delivers the money ball. Some controversy as the Warriors looked to have knocked on earlier in the set. Hohaia conversion attempt from out wide is unsuccessful.
Half time: Warriors 12-0
Dodgy decision leading up to the last try but the Warriors deserve to be in front by 12. Their pack are dominating and often driving the Cowboys forwards back.
Cowboys are lacking G and D and have been guilty of poor ball security and lack of discipline. They will need a complete turnaround in attitude if they are a hope here.
At this stage it looks like the Warriors are going to go on with it.
Second half underway...!
43 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Manu Vatuvei crosses out wide courtesy of an overlap and then improves his position to score under the posts. Hohaia converts.
51 min: NEWS Crowd figure has been posted. Just 5,425 in attendance.
55 min: Possible TRY to Warriors. Video ref checking for obstruction...
VERDICT: NO TRY and penalty to Cowboys.
A great run with Gatis, Webb and Rovelli all combining in a 70m team movement.
65 min: UPDATE Still 18-0 and the Warriors coasting in the rain. The Cowboys making little impression with only one real scoring opportunity this half.
69 min: SENT OFF Luke O'Donnell (Cowboys) is SENT OFF. Follows him going high and then slamming the forearm to the head of Lance Hohaia. Fight followed and then referee Badger gave O'Donnell his marching orders.
70 min: Possible TRY Warriors. Video ref checking....
70 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Hohaia scores in the corner after video ref gives benefit of the doubt over touchline. Hohaia unable to convert.
76 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Hohaia gets a double. A frustrated Cowboys outfit wanting to go the biff after the try is scored. Hohaia unable to convert.
Full time: A comprehensive victory to the Warriors as the Cowboys' season has all but evaporated. The North Queenslanders were never in the game and looked disinterested and predictable. Taking nothing away from the Warriors, enjoying 58% possession as their forwards got on top and hammered the advantage home. A great effort from the entire Warriors pack with Steve Price and rookie Sam Rapira amongst the stand outs. Playing in the centres, Lance Hohaia was busy all the night and worked well with half back Grant Rovelli.
Warriors 26 defeated Cowboys 0
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Lance Hohaia (Warriors)
2 - Steve Price (Warriors)
1 - Sam Rapira (Warriors)