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The New Zealand Warriors were back to their thrilling best as they launched a series of attacks to beat the Parramatta Eels 26-10 in a National Rugby League game at Ericsson Stadium yesterday. The Warriors wasted little time in stamping their authority on the match.
They went ahead after 10 minutes when they declined to take a penalty from directly in front of the goalposts.
Instead, the ball was moved by hand before Ali Lauiti'iti drove in low and hard to muscle through several Parramatta tacklers for Ivan Cleary to convert the try.
Until that point the Eels had played well, defending stoutly and joining in the attacking approach adopted by the Warriors.
In the 28th minute Richard Villasanti scored after superb passing among the Warriors during a spell in which the home side moved the ball left and right quickly, with the ball carriers often making ground through the tackles.
The Warriors' third try was scored by wing Justin Murphy in the corner in the 34th minute, when the Parramatta defence was stretched.
The sideline conversion gave Cleary his third goal from three attempts and lifted the home side to a commanding halftime lead of 18-0.
Parramatta came out after the interval in a more attacking frame of mind and they took more risks as they attempted to outflank the Warriors.
They were rewarded 10 minutes into the second spell when Andrew Ryan accepted the ball at speed from deep to go over for the try, which was converted by Pat Richards.
Within five minutes the Warriors hit back through Brent Webb, who straightened up from 10m out and went across near the posts.
Parramatta tried hard on attack but so often when they had the ball they were restricted to lateral movements, often playing as individuals.
The Warriors found they were able to slide across in defence and stop the Eels making any headway.
Ten minutes from fulltime the visitors cracked the tiring Warriors defence with a high angled kick to the corner which centre Willie Tonga collected almost unchallenged to go across.
Warriors coach Daniel Anderson said his team had gone into the match needing to regain some of their attitude, motivation and aggression.
There were little things that he felt had been a bit scratchy in the past month.
Parramatta had played "extremely well".
The Warriors could have scored a lot of points against a number of teams yesterday, and it was a credit to the Eels that they had been able to hold the Warriors to 26 points, Anderson said.
Parramatta coach Brian Smith made no excuses, and did not even want to discuss the injuries that had such a big influence on the composition of his side today.
"I'd rather talk about what we had, the boys that came today," he said.
"I picked them because I wanted an enthusiastic group."
Most of the young players in the side had taken the chance to show what they could do, Smith said.
His team had battled well, particularly in the last 15 minutes when the game was pretty much gone.
At that point, top four teams such as the Warriors could often do some damage, but that had not happened yesterday.
The Warriors had got the upperhand early in the game with a number of penalties, while Parramatta had been let down by some poor kicking, allowing the Warriors to put them under pressure, he said.
"The Warriors were certainly in the box seat right from the start," Smith said.
Parramatta captain and Kiwis international Nathan Cayless said his players lifted their output and showed pride in their jersey towards the end of the game as the Warriors, who had a bye last week, tired.