Warriors hold on for important victory

The New Zealand Warriors have held off the Brisbane Broncos 16-12 in an absorbing contest in front of a vocal crowd of 13,007 at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland.

The match, one of few dry matches played in Auckland did not disappoint. The Broncos brought across a weakened line up after a disruptive week losing key personnel Hodges, Carroll, Thaiday and Stagg. Conversely the Warriors welcomed back star fullback Wade McKinnon from a serious injury suffered in the pre season.

After some grinding football early, it was the Broncos that commenced the scoring through a penalty goal to backrower Corey Parker. However, the Warriors in front of their vocal home ground were starting to dominate proceedings. Defence was strong and some big hits from Vatuvei on the fringes prominent.

Some strong contributions by the Warrior bench in Sam Rapira and Lance Hohaia was contributing to winning the arm wrestle. Eventually the home side was rewarded when rookie backrower Ben Matulino proved too strong for the Bronco defence putting the predominantly bearded Warriors in front.

The Broncos regained the lead five minutes later with a spectacular team try to bustling prop Ben Hannant. Wallace, Hunt, Lockyer all chimed in as the Bulldog bound prop scored after some sensational support play from a big man.

On the stroke of half time, boom Bronco forward Dave Taylor spilled the ball giving the Warriors one last chance before the break. Some enterprising play by the Warriors saw an early kick by Nathan Fien regathered by comeback kid Wade McKinnon. Wade McKinnon would have no doubt been satisfied with his first half performance looking incredibly lively and reminding all fans exactly what we have been missing in his absence.

In the second half, the gripping match was there to be won. Brent Tate was looking busy for the Warriors as the home side kept up the pressure. A high kick by Fien bounced fortuitously for the Warriors as Michael Witt dived on a loose ball to give the Warriors a six point lead. A penalty goal then followed giving the hosts that much needed eight point buffer.

However, the Broncos as all good champion teams do, hit back strongly. A deft kick by half Peter Wallace found the speedy Denan Kemp bringing the Broncos closer. Vatuvei struggled to turn and chase after defending compressed.

A four point game ensued as the Broncos searched to snatch the game from the home side but the determination to take down another big scalp proved too important for the Warriors as they held on for a much needed victory. The Warriors will need to be on their game again next week as they host the miserly Sharks.

For the Broncos, the top four could now be beyond them as they try and regroup for next week