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The New Zealand Warriors have celebrated veteran Stacey Jones' 250th first grade game by putting a step towards reviving their season following a 13-0 win over the Newcastle Knights at Mt. Smart Stadium. In horrible conditions the Warriors scored two tries to nil, the Warriors putting their second team scoreless in weeks.
It all began well for the Warriors with new number six Lance Hohaia forcing his way over the line early. The video referee agreed and the early lead was there. It could have been more at various other stages of the first half but the Knights defence made sure that didn't happen.
The rain enabled plenty of mistakes to occur from both sides but the metres came through strong runs and well placed kicks. The majority of the latter came from Warriors halves, Hohaia and 250th game celebrant Stacey Jones. Both continually put pressure on the Knights backs, especially fullback Shannon McDonnell who came into the game late replacing injured captain Kurt Gidley.
The Knights kicking game didn't seem to faze Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon who continually gained metres with every run he made.
The second half saw the Knights put pressure on early, even on the video referee with a disallowed try to in-form forward Richard Fa'aoso. But the home side kept their cool and kept their lead into the dying stages of the match.
During the final ten minutes the Warriors made the strange decision not to take the two points for a penalty goal and instead attempt for the try, which didn't work. Moments later Hohaia potted the field goal and the Warriors were headed for glory.
Moments later, exciting young winger Kevin Locke made an eighty metre run towards the tryline, and whilst a field invader was able to catch him the Knights certainly weren't.
Both teams will take a much needed rest with a bye coming up but the Warriors might certainly be on track to change their fortunes and make a late run for the finals, just like 2008. The Knights will have to take their weekend off seriously however after being scoreless for the first time since 2007.
Match Details New Zealand Warriors 13 def Newcastle Knights 0 Round 14 - Friday June 12th, 2009 06:35pm Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland Referee: Steve Lyons & Bernard Sutton Touch Judges: David Abood & Ricky McFarlane Video Referee: Phil Cooley Crowd: 14,255 Halftime: Warriors 6-0
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Kevin Locke (Warriors) 2 Points: Lance Hohaia (Warriors) 1 Point: Wade McKinnon (Warriors)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Hello one and hello all.
Josh here and welcome to Mt. Smart Stadium for this match between the 12th placed New Zealand Warriors and the 8th placed Newcastle Knights. This match will be the 250th first grade appearance of Warriors veteran Stacey Jones. Will this give the New Zealand club the motivation they need? It worked for them after Wiki's 300th in 2008, let's see if history repeats itself.
This will be the first side these two sides play since exactly two months ago. That day the Knights ran out 24-22 winners. In late changes for this match the Newcastle Knights fullback and captain Kurt Gidley has been "rested". He will be replaced by Shannon McDonnell.
This match will start in around twenty minutes, join me in what should be a blockbuster. The Knights will battle to keep their spot to get in the eight whilst the Warriors will attempt to take one step closer to rising their position on the table. I'll be tipping the Warriors in an upset, at this point in the League Unlimited poll 50% went for the Warriors and 50% for the Knights.
Talk about the game as it happens - Warriors v Knights forum discussion - click here!
WARRIORS: 1. Wade McKinnon 2. Kevin Locke 3. Patrick Ah Van 4. Simon Mannering 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Lance Hohaia 7. Stacey Jones 8. Sam Rapira 9. Ian Henderson 10. Steve Price (c) 11. Lewis Brown 12. Ben Matulino 13. Micheal Luck Interchange: 14. Aaron Heremaia 15. Russell Packer 16. Jesse Royal 17. Jacob Lillyman KNIGHTS: 20. Shannon McDonnell 2. James McManus 3. Junior Sau 4. Wes Naiqama 5. Akuila Uate 6. Ben Rogers 7. Jarrod Mullen (c) 8. Mark Taufua 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Chris Houston 11. Steve Simpson 12. Zeb Taia 13. Matt Hilder Interchange: 14. Con Mika 15. Marvin Karawana 16. Richard Fa'aoso 17. Danny Wicks
The game is not far from beginning. Auckland has been raining all day so the ground is very slippery. The teams are coming on and we'll be underway soon.
1 min: Kick off is short and is on the twenty metre mark, Warriors have the ball.
1 min: Good first set of six from the Warriors. Hohaia's kick finds the Knights twenty. First scrum of the match here.
3 min: Taia is down on the ground. At the same time a penalty goes to the Warriors, Ben Rogers high tackling Ben Matulino there. They're 25 out here.
5 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible New Zealand Warriors try We're up on the video referee early on to see if Hohaia has got the ball over the line for the Warriors. Cut short and struggled over, looks doubting but who knows?
5 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Hohaia has made his way over the line after a good raid of attacking from the Warriors. Hohaia going straight through over the defenders and getting the football on the line. It has been said this man has been the key for the Warriors this year. Conversion attempt by Kevin Locke successful. New Zealand Warriors 6-0
8 min: McManus looks sore as he attempted to take a Jones kick (nearly a 40/20 mind you). Looks like an ankle injury. Karawana looks to be getting ready. He looks down.
9 min: Penalty to the Knights, Patrick Ah Van had his hands on the ball. Knights will go on the attack here.
12 min: High bomb from Jones and Naiqama takes it well. He chased away from a few defenders but was eventually caught.
17 min: Jones puts up another bomb, McDonnell took it beautifully and he's having another good start the former Tiger.
17 min: Penalty to the Knights, some of the Warriors hanging onto the legs of Zeb Taia. (Penalty count Knights 2, Warriors 1).
18 min: Rogers spills it, Luck gets it and Hohaia breaks, the Warriors raise the excitement here.
19 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible New Zealand Warriors try We're back to the video referee, the crowd up more this time. Vatuvei is over the line, we are seeing if he got it down.
21 min: The Knights kick into space here, Locke takes it well, he has been busy early.
23 min: Jones kicks and the defender thought it was going to go over the dead ball line before picking it up, instead spilling it so the Warriors again on the attack.
24 min: The Warriors look good but Henderson spills the ball. First mistake from the Warriors tonight I think.
25 min: Few changes for the Knights. Fa'aoso and Wicks both on. Former Knight Jesse Royal has also just come on.
27 min: The rain is coming down. The Knights with the ball right now, 15 metres inside the Warriors half. A Mullen kick doesn't work and Locke makes another good run. Henderson is off, Heremaia comes on.
28 min: Another up and under. McDonnell gets the ball in goal and brilliantly gets it back to the twenty, only to spill it. The errors are starting to come from the Knights.
30 min: Jones bombs to the corner, over the hands of Naiqama, looks like it apparently hit Uate's hands so another goal line drop out. They're having another look though, the referees are screaming twenty metres. Knights will get the ball.
31 min: Yet another error by the Knights. De Gois blows up at the referee, Matulino's legs are over the play-the-ball.
33 min: Great quick tackle from Price on Mullen, a handover on the fifth. Royal with the ball near the halfway.
34 min: Naiqama runs over the line with the ball. Great kicking game from the Warriors tonight.
35 min: Hohaia bombs the ball, Vatuvei doesn't get it, once again Naiqama does. Yet another line-drop out here. The Fijian international Naiqama has had a busy last few minutes here.
36 min: The kick has been called and Vatuvei has knocked it on. Good leap though. Knights 20 metre restart, they're off the hook, great desperation.
40 min: Knights look to spread it here, they're on the attack at the end of the half.
40 min: The inside pass has been knocked on, that could've been even stevens. Halftime looks to be 6-0. There goes the siren.
HALFTIME - New Zealand Warriors 6 lead Newcastle Knights 0 The Warriors have had their most dominant half of the season but they only go into halftime with a six point lead which could haunt them later down the track. The Knights defence has been spot on, despite quite a few errors. Hope you all enjoy the halftime break, we'll be back soon for this second half.
The players come on, the rain comes off, strange that. We're about to begin the second half, here we go! Warriors will kick us off. Some quick stats. Penalties (Knights 2-1), Scrums (Warriors 4-3)
41 min: Kick off! This one going a fair bit longer than the first half kick off.
43 min: The Knights are spreading the ball well early. Last tackle Mullen puts the bomb up and McKinnon takes it well on the ten metre half.
44 min: Vatuvei loses the ball in the tackle. The Knights have a shot at the line here early on, has a half time speech spurred them on here?
45 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Newcastle Knights try Once again the video referee is asked to check if Fa'aoso has got a try. Seems like he has lost it on first instinct...
46 min: The crowd believes a Knights pass went forward then. The referee didn't agree. The end of the set doesn't have much impact and McKinnon and Mannering both make good runs early in the set.
47 min: Heremaia is called to have knocked it on. Looks flat there, the Knights looked to have hit it forward.
48 min: Drop ball by De Gois, Royal makes a bit of a run. The errors continue, the ground is slippery.
50 min: Hohaia puts the kick into the in-goal and Sau tried to hussle it over the line. Looks to have worked, Knights get the ball back. Good work from Matulino earlier with a good run.
52 min: Rogers with a bomb, a knock back there and Rogers kicks it again. McKinnon goes through a bit of a hole but couldn't get away from a Mika tackle.
54 min: Penalty to the Knights. McDonnell gets tackled then pushed back. Just the fourth penalty of the match if I'm not mistaken.
55 min: Mullen kicks it out on the full inside his own half.
57 min: Taia makes a good run, Houston kicks into space and Locke takes the ball well. A player picked the rookie up and dragged him back. Same result as the one moments ago. Penalty goes to the Warriors.
60 min: Houston lies in the ruck, no penalty. Has happened quite a lot tonight, never been penalised however. Another milking attempt just moments later.
61 min: The Warriors beginning to look really tired. Rapira comes on, haven't seen much of him tonight.
63 min: More milking attempts in the ruck. Both teams guilty, Knights more often than the Warriors. Knights have the ball on the thirty. Simpson has the ball.
64 min: Uate trapped in goal but gets out. Knights continually getting under pressure here. Still six-nil...quite a few points scored here tonight.
65 min: Locke is away! What a run from the young gun. McKinnon is tackled by Mullen in the end! This is exciting football! The Knights are caught offside, the Warriors, will they take the two? No, the tap is taken. Here come the Auckland side!
66 min: Momentum has died there. A nothing set of six coming from the Warriors. Slow play-the-ball sees Jones chip the ball, doesn't come off. Two points seriously went begging. They tried continually to go through.
67 min: Quote of the day for Locke. "They wouldn't have stopped him in a month of Sundays."
68 min: Mannering busts, no support however. Rapira loses the ball. Another opportunity wasted. Those two points from moments ago looking like a million dollars lost right now.
70 min: Mullen kicks down and McKinnon once again takes it well and gets slammed by the chasers. Nervous ten minutes await.
70 min: Jones chips...McDonnell has been captured in the in-goal. Jones kicking it again well. Six to come here, Warriors fans are up!
74 min: An unimaginative kick there and the Knights get the ball on the thirty. Busy game from the fullback McDonnell.
74 min: Mullen tried for a 40/20 but McKinnon takes it well. He has had a great game tonight.
76 min: A load of lost balls there, might take three lines to comment on them all. Should have been a Knights penalty. Here we go. Knights have the ball after a messy scrum.
77 min: Mullen chip kicks and a Knights knock on ensues. The Warriors will get a halfway scrum and it looks like they've done it for Stacey's 250th (despite Stacey doing a lot of the work)...
78 min: Matulino spills the ball, goes far too. Two and a half to go, the Knights need to score here..
78 min: A bit of a blow up here, Knights have the ball with the attack. McDonnell goes for a good run.
79 min: Mullen grubber, does it go dead??? McKinnon had to put it dead, goal-line drop out. Exactly one minute left.
80 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Kevin Locke has done it again! Eighty metres to score. The crowd has gone nuts, as has a woman who has ran on the field. Attempted to give Locke a hug, she'll spend the evening arrested. Second time in a few weeks the Warriors have put an opponent to nil, and the first time since a 44-0 loss to Melbourne in 2007 that Newcastle has been taken to nil. Quote "Newcastle should sign the lady up because she got closer to Locke than any of the players did". Conversion attempt by Kevin Locke successful. New Zealand Warriors 13-0
Full Time - New Zealand Warriors 13 defeated Newcastle Knights 0 Great effort tonight from the Warriors, a major improvement. They've beaten the Knights and the doubters. Lead by the rare number six Hohaia, tonight was a major night for the side. Will this begin something big? Both sides will have a bye next week, so not much to report there.
That was exciting, my first update with you all, and it was exciting that's for sure! Enjoy the weekend and good luck to your team.