The New Zealand Warriors have won a hard fought 31-24 victory over the Sharks at Toyota Park this evening.
The match was in the balance until the final minute when a long range Brett Kimmorley attempted field goal fell short and wide and was caught by Warriors winger, Justin Murphy. Murphy then beat four defenders including Sharks speedster Matt Rieck to score a length of the field try and seal the win.
The win keeps the Warriors in the hunt for a top four berth and with the Warriors enjoying the bye next weekend, they are well placed for another assault on the Telstra Premiership.
For the Sharks, it?s pretty much all over and although they are a mathematical chance at making the finals, they are simply not playing well enough to make the top eight. Chris Anderson can now start blooding some of his youngsters in preparation for next season and with the arrival of new players, including Bulldogs center Nigel Vagana, season 2003 can be put down as a learning experience, albeit a very tough one.
For the Warriors, Stacey Jones was again the maestro but was well supported by Clinton Toopi and Francis Meli, both of whom should feature in the Kiwi test side announced tomorrow afternoon.
Leagueunlimited.com player of the year points:
3 ? Stacey Jones (Warriors) 2 ? Clinton Toopi (Warriors) 1 ? David Peachey (Sharks)
Scorers: SHARKS 24 Tries: Rieck, Peachey, Isemonger, Anderson. Goals: Anderson 4/6.
WARRIORS 31 Tries: Villisanti, Toopi x 2, Webb, Murphy. Goals: Jones 5/5, Jones FG.
By the clock: NEWS: Brett Kimmorley has made a shock return for the Sharks and his inclusion should make for an interesting contest.
3rd min: TRY - Warriors. Richard Villisanti steasm onto a Stacey jones pass to open the Warriors account. Conversion successful. Warriors 6-0.
12th min: TRY - Sharks. Matt Rieck crosses out wide for a very soft try. Conversion unsuccessful. Warriors 6-4.
19th min: TRY - Sharks. David Peachey scores under the sticks to extend the Sharks lead. Conversion successful. Sharks 12-6.
28th min: TRY - Warriors. Cinton Toopi scores a fifty metre try and beats David peachey easily to score under the posts and level the scores. Conversion successful. 12 all.
37th min: TRY - Sharks. Kimmorley puts up a misdirected bomb and Brent Webb lets the ball bounce over his head in the in-goal area only to see Sam Isemonger swoop on the ball and claim the try. Conversion successful. Sharks 18-12.
40th min: PENALTY GOAL - Sharks. Francis Meli is penalised for trying to play the ball while not on his feet. A 50/50 call and Jarrad Anderson makes no mistake to gove the Sharks a handy eight point lead at the break. Sharks 20-12.
47th min: TRY - Warriors. Brent Webb races out of dummy half, 35 metres fromt he Sharks tryline and no one laid a finger on him. Very close game. Conversion successful. Sharks 20-18.
54th min: TRY - Warriors. Clinton Toopi does a one on one steal and scores under the posts to put the Warriors back int he lead once again. A see sawing battle with no side looking to land the killer punch at this stage. Conversion successful. Warriors 24-20.
63rd min: TRY - Sharks. Jarrod Anderson crosses in the corner after Faumuina (Warriors) gives away a penalty while in possession. Conversion unsuccessful. 24 all.
75th min: Looks like we are heading to extra time as neither side looks like breaking the deadlock.
77th min: FIELD GOAL - Warriors. Stecey Jones kicks the Warriors one point clear with under three minutes to play. Warriors 25-25.
80th min: TRY - Warriors. With just over a minute to go Brett Kimmorley attempts a long range field goal but it goes wide and lands in Justin Murphy's arms and he beat four defenders to score a length of the field try to seal the win. Conversion successful. Warriors 31-24.
FULL TIME: The Warriors escape with the two points after a hard fought win over a much improved Sharks outfit. The Warriors have the bye next weekend and are still very much in the running for a top four spot. Well done to the Warriors.