In what was billed as a Grand Final for both teams, the New Zealand Warriors have defeated the South Sydney Rabbitohs by 34-20 in front of a small but vocal crowd of around 8,000. To their credit of Souths, they came back from a half time score of 22-4, but failed to maintain their last minute momentum. While most of the second half was locked at 22-20, Warriors scored two converted tries on the bell to push ahead.
For the Warriors, halfback Stacey Jones lead them well around the paddock, while their big forwards tackled with purpose. For the Rabbitohs, it was a great comeback after a slow start. They got within two points of pulling off a last minute surprise. Centre Lee Hookey managed to position himself well throughout the game while Joe Williams helped exploit Warrior weaknesses down the right hand side. Highlight for the Rabbitohs was the three tries to winger Shane Marteene, who finished off some spectacular movements.
A win to the Warriors means the battle for the wooden spoon is now a three way contest with Manly and Souths.
the win has also capped off a good week for the kiwis, who celebrated signing Francis meli and Sione Faumuina.
By the bell
Welcome to Ericsson Stadium. Souths have named the same team that beat Panthers last week, while Francis Meli is back for the Warriors after suspension of five weeks. Meli is also celebrating his re-signing with the Warriors until 2006.
0 min: Kick off
6 mins: TRY Warriors. Fa'afili scores. Faumuina misses conversion. Warriors lead 4-0.
15 mins: TRY Warriors. After a promising run from Paleaaesina in the previous set. Webb scores a good try from an inside pass from Jerome Ropati. Goal kicked by Faumuina. Warriors lead 10-nil.
25 mins: NEWS. Warriors attack and would have scored through Jones but Hookey pulls off a try saver.
25 mins: TRY Warriors. Francis Meli takes a wide ball from Jones after a penalty to the Warriors. Conversion missed. Warriors lead 14-nil.
30 mins: TRY Warriors. Louis Anderson scores after the Warriors put the ball through the hands. No goal. Warriors lead 18-nil.
32 mins: TRY. Warriors. Ropati dummies and stretches over the line. Faumuina misses another goal. Warriors 22-0.
36 mins: TRY Rabbitohs. Hookey makes a break, kicks through and Joe Williams cleans up and grabs the points. Williams misses goal. Warriors 22-Souths 4.
Half Time: Running into a strong wind, Souths have failed to make an impression on a strong Warriors side who easily lead the the stats that matter. With all the ball, the Warriors have managed 5 tries to 1, thanks to strong games from a back in form Stacy Jones and slick wingers Henry Fa'afili and Frances Meli. Souths have made the most impact on the right hand side, but soft defence and a lack of aggression will need to be overcome if they are to make an impact.
Completions: Warriors 18; Souths 13 Tackles: Warriors 104-137 Mistackles: Warriors 4-16 Score: Warriors 22-4
We're back on a cold and fine day in Auckland.
46 mins: NEWS. Warriors start as they finished the first half. Strong defence. Good running and kicking game.
48 mins: NEWS. Richard Villasanti penalised for a late tackle on Joe Williams. Souths use the penalty to mount an attack.
49 mins: We're off to the Video Ref.
50 mins: TRY Rabbitohs. Joe Williams under the posts from a kick through and a failure by Stacy Jones to control or force the ball. Williams adds the extras. Warriors 22-10
55 mins: NEWS. Good run by Lee Hookey off a Joe Willaims pass has put Shane Marteene into the corner. There is some conjecture as a double movement but......TRY
55 mins: TRY Rabbitohs. Shane Marteene. Souths are closing the gap 22-14. Williams has kicked it from the sideline. Warriors 22-16.
62 mins: NEWS. Owen Craigie turns defence into attack and runs a Stacy Jones goal back. Ashely Harrison puts the ball down but has Paleaasina got his hand under the ball. He has. No Try.
64 mins: NEWS. We're off to the video ref again as Souths put the ball through the hands on the other side of the ground to the previous movement.
65 mins: TRY Rabbitohs. Shane Marteene. Good finishing off a Souths movement. Lee Hookey figuringing large in all the good things Souths are doing. Williams has a kick from the sideline. No goal. Warriors 22-Souths 20.
65 mins: NEWS: The strong wind at Souths back has set up an exciting finish from a rabbitohs team who were soundly outplayed in the first stanza.
68 mins: NEWS. Marteene has crossed the line for a third time, but a question exists if he was onside and if he got the ball down before Stacey Jones has forced the ball. No Try.
69 mins. NEWS. Williams has a Penalty that will equalize the scores. No goal. Warriors 22 - Souths 20.
75 mins: NEWS. Souths attack the line, but a kick by Craigie has gone dead releasing pressure on the Warriors
78 mins: NEWS Warriors attacking the Souths line.
78 mins: TRY. Warriors. Fullback Brent Webb scores under the post and should have put the game beyond Souths reach. Quick hands from Ropati, Guttenbeil and Tuimavave. Jones converts the try. Warriors 28-20
79 mins: TRY. Warriors. Wairangi Koopu scores a try on the bell. Conversion OK.
FULL TIME: Warriors win 34-20
Completions: Warriors 32 Souths 32 Penalties Warriors 5-7 Scrums: Warriors 3-6 Line Breaks Warriors 6-3 Errors Warriors 11-5
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - Louis Anderson(Warriors) 2 - Stacey Jones(Warriors) 1 - Lee Hookey (Souths) -----------------------------------------