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The New Zealand Warriors have won their 10th match in twelve weeks to send the Sydney Roosters packing from the 2008 NRL Premiership, earning a 30-13 victory in front of 25,585 fans tonight at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.
The home side put on a strong second half showing to overcome a lacklustre Roosters outfit, setting up a preliminary final against the Manly Sea Eagles next Saturday evening at the Sydney Football Stadium.
It was the Roosters thought that started stronger, overcoming an early Warriors try to dominate first half possession and take a 13-6 lead to the halftime break. Halves Braith Anasta and Mitchell Pearce combined well to steer the visitors to that lead, which included a controversial penalty try for Anthony Minichiello where the Warriors defender was ruled to have held him back from scoring a supposedly certain try.
Debate will rage on the penalty try decision but ultimately it became a speed bump to a rampaging Warriors outfit, their backline providing plenty of entertainment as the second half wore on. Lance Hohaia shone, managing two tries and laying on another.
The Roosters held out hope when trailing by 11 with ten minutes remaining, but an 80 metre run of an intercept for Warriors' winger Aiden Kirk put the final nail in the visitors' 2008 coffin.
Sydney Roosters fans will be left to rue what was their most successful season since their Grand Final loss in 2004, while the Warriors fairytale expands another week, Ruben Wiki getting closer and closer to an improbable premiership farewell. As mentioned, their opponents will be the Manly Sea Eagles. The clash will take place next Saturday 27 September at the Sydney Football Stadium, with a 7:45pm AEST kickoff.
Match Details New Zealand Warriors 30 vs Sydney Roosters 13 Finals - Week 2 - Friday September 19th, 2008 6:40pm AEST Venue: Mt Smart Stadium (Kick off 8:40pm NZST) Referee: Tony Archer Touch Judges: Steve Chiddy & Jeff Younis Video Referees: Steve Clark & Phil Cooley Halftime: Roosters 13 Warriors 6 Crowd: 25,585
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
It's on, it's elimination semi final time in Auckland tonight and Channel Nine in Australia are showing it live... or not. No matter, you will get the full live game right here at LeagueUnlimited.com.
Team changes for first grade... the home side New Zealand are as per the match program, the Roosters have a slew of changes, including the omission of Mickey Paea and Brent Grose, making way for Frank Paul Nuuausala and Amos Roberts. The full final lineups are:
WARRIORS: 1. Lance Hohaia 2. Aidan Kirk 3. Brent Tate 4. Jerome Ropati 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Michael Witt 7. Nathan Fien 8. Ruben Wiki 9. Ian Henderson 10. Steve Price (c) 11. Simon Mannering 12. Ben Matulino 13. Micheal Luck Interchange: 14. Grant Rovelli 15. Evarn Tuimavave 16. Sam Rapira 17. Logan Swann ROOSTERS: 1. Anthony Minichiello 20. Amos Roberts 17. Mitchell Aubusson 4. Sia Soliola 5. Sam Perrett 6. Braith Anasta 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Mark O'Meley 9. James Aubusson 10. Lopini Paea 11. Nate Myles 13. Craig Fitzgibbon 16. Anthony Cherrington Interchange: 3. Setaimata Sa 12. Anthony Tupou 15. David Shillington 18. Frank Paul Nuuausala
The Warriors were bold in their history-making defeat of the Melbourne Storm last Sunday afternoon, bringing the reigning premiers to their knees in front of a hostile Melbourne crowd - but now they've got a packed house of their own to entertain. Can the Roosters' defence hold out a Warrior onslaught, or will they fall to the second half wobblies that saw Brisbane eclipse them last week? Keep your eyes glued here (because you sure as hell can't watch it live on the TV anywhere in Australia...) and we'll keep you up-to-date all the way to fulltime and beyond.
The Roosters now out on the park, the Warriors emerging from the tunnel now.... OK, not yet - this could earn the home side a fine.
1 min: PENALTY Warriors. The Roosters markers not square and the Warriors will get an early attacking chance.
3 min: VIDEO REFEREE Possible Warriors try Nathan Fien sweeps on a loose ball. Decision pending... Warriors TRY!
4 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Not Fien but infact Lance Hohaia has scored and the Warriors open with a spectacular try under the posts. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 6-0
6 min: SCRUM Roosters. Simon Mannering has lost it and the Roosters will now go on the attack within the Warriors' 20 metre zone. From the scrum, the ball from Mitchell Pearce to Mitch Aubusson ends up back on the 40 metre line as the latter errs in his pass at first receiver.
9 min: REFEREE Tony Archer is after a new whistle, the pea already blown out of it so far one would imagine.
10 min: PENALTY Roosters. And that whistle gets its first blow. Holding down in the tackle and now the Roosters attaciking again. No luck from that set, kicking on the fourth and the visitors are not looking confident, while the Warriors now are making metres at will.
13 min: A trademark Anasta bomb on tackle five results in an easy take for the Warriors and they'll work the ball back upfield. The Roosters looked marginally better then but still no points.
15 min: SCRUM Roosters. The Roosters bring Tupou off the bench and immediately the Roosters start looking more dangerous. The last tackle option this time sees Warrior forward Ben Matulino make an error so it'll be a scrum 10m out to the visitors. This time SCRUM Warriors. Second tackle from the scrum and Roberts goes for the corner but then cut back inside, tried a pass and it is ruled forward. Crisis averted for New Zealand.
17 min: The Roosters make a stunning break but Roberts has bombed it again... and he looks INJURED. Blood gushing from the eye of Roosters winger Amos Roberts. A great chase from Steve Price to make a trysaving tackle also.
19 min: PENALTY Roosters. Roberts is off injured at the moment but his bombed try is ruled a strip. They're right on the attack now.
20 min: PENALTY Warriors. Terrible set, terrible kick and then it's compounded by a penalty. Warriors out of trouble and we've seen some great defence from them this evening.
26 min: 40/20 KICK - SCRUM Roosters. What a kick from Mitchell Pearce! Sensational stuff from the Roosters halfback.
28 min: TRY Sydney Roosters A great try, Roosters captain Braith Anasta draws a few defenders and throws an inside ball to his halves partner Mitchell Pearce and they're finally in after plenty of ball. We're even-stevens here at Mt Smart in this elimination semi final as the conversion attempt by Craig Fitzgibbon is successful. 6 all
31 min: VIDEO REFEREE Possible Roosters try The Sydney Roosters have exploded! Minichiello seems to have won a foot-race to a kick ahead and the decision is pending... has he grounded it? Decision pending... PENALTY TRY!
32 min: PENALTY TRY Sydney Roosters First penalty try awarded since the Warriors' home final last year at the same venue against Parramatta, and it goes to Roosters' fullback Anthony Minichiello. The conversion is taken from in front as a result... Conversion attempt by Craig Fitzgibbon successful. Sydney Roosters 12-6
37 min: The Warriors starved of the ball almost ever since their opening try and the Roosters have taken full advantage. Nothing happening in attack for the home side when they do have it, plenty of worrying signs for them leading into halftime.
40 min: FIELD GOAL Sydney Roosters Braith takes the opportunity to smack one over as they hit the halftime siren and the Roosters take a seven point lead. Sydney Roosters 13-6
HALFTIME Sydney Roosters 13 New Zealand Warriors 6 The Warriors opened with a bang, but the Roosters seized all the possession and ultimately have control of this sudden death semi-final tonight in Auckland. After a wobbly start brought about by some late changes to the starting side, the Roosters have sharpened their attack in the back end of the half and two tries (one a penalty try) as well as a late field goal have them a handy seven point gap going into the second forty. Braith Anasta is in scinitallating form so far, taking the line on a few times rather than resorting to "bomb therapy" and Mitchell Pearce has also begun to shine as the game wore on.
41 min: INJURY UPDATE Amos Roberts is gone for the night after the earlier head wound he sustained. Roosters are on the attack now after the Warriors' error.
43 min: LINE DROP OUT. The Warriors force another six so they've rectified the error and turned defence into attack. Anasta sends the ball up to halfway and the Warriors will attack again.
45 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Lance Hohaia throws the dummy and rolls over under the posts, too easy and that was worryingly poor defence from the Roosters. Mt Smart erupts as the deficit reduces to just a single point. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. Sydney Roosters 13-12
48 min: The Warriors are on the attack... fifth tackle and Witt goes to the air, a great effort from Minichiello to get under it and the visitors will work it away.
51 min: VIDEO REFEREE Possible Warriors try Held up or not? Aidan Kirk thinks he's got it down. Benefit of the doubt maybe? Decision pending... NO TRY! It's a play the ball and changeover to the Roosters.
53 min: PENALTY Warriors. They'll go on the attack after one of their players was taken out trying to contest the ball.
55 min: PENALTY Warriors. The Roosters have done it again in the same circumstances. Mt Smart is echoing loudly with calls for the infringing player to be sin-binned. Another set for the home side, can they take the lead?
56 min: VIDEO REFEREE Possible Warriors try Ian Henderson looks to have scored... Decision pending... TRY! Benefit of the doubt to Henderson there.
57 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors And the home side is leading here! The Warriors lead their opposition who for the second week in a row have a field goal in the bank. Henderson's try is awarded and they're kicking on big time here! Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 18-13
62 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Hohaia keps his involvement in the tryscoring today as he offloads for Manu Vatuvei and the big unit scores in the corner. Looks like we've got further trouble for the Roosters with a violation of the interchange rules also. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 24-13
67 min: SCRUM Warriors. A double knock-on on the last tackle sees the Warriors with another attacking chance 10 metres out.
69 min: SCRUM Warriors. Another Roosters knock-on and it's another set on the line for the Warriors, surely they can score?
70 min: A 20m restart for the Roosters as the Warriors send it dead. Looking unlikely for the Roosters at this point but anything's possible.
72 min: PENALTY Roosters. Ben Matulino takes a Roosters player high and it's probably the last throw of the dice for the visitors as they progress up-field. INTERCEPT! Aidan Kirk's away and the Warriors are INTO WEEK THREE! TRY TRY TRY!!!
73 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors That's game, set and match. The Roosters try pushing it wide in desperation and the ball goes to the Warriors' winger and nobody touches him in an 80 metre run. Conversion attempt by Michael Witt successful. New Zealand Warriors 30-13
78 min: This game is over, next week Manly will have a sensational battle on their hands at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night. The Warriors' second half heroics have been something truly special in front of over 26,000 fans here at Mt Smart.
80 min: SCRUM Warriors. Final few seconds of the game. Might not even pack as the New Zealand crowd goes into raptures.
FULLTIME New Zealand Warriors 30 Sydney Roosters 13 The Warriors have flown home to a commanding victory today at Mt Smart, the Roosters are gone and it's been a cracker. Ruben Wiki's career will extend another week - and it's not at all unlikely that this side could be at ANZ Stadium on October 5th.