Warriors too strong for
lacklustre Knights

Round 15
New Zealand Warriors 30 v Newcastle Knights 18
at Ericsson Stadium
Referees: Jarred Maxwell

Match Summary:

The New Zealand Warriors have continued on their stellar winning run with a 30-18 victory over the Newcastle Knights at Ericsson Stadium in Auckland this afternoon.

The 12-point margin flattered the visitors somewhat - the men from the Hunter Valley scoring two consolation tries late in the piece after Warriors winger Patrick Ah Van was sent to the sin bin with just three minutes remaining.

It was all the Warriors in the first 20 minutes, battering the Knights from pillar to post, illustrating a strong physical presence. A 14-0 lead was just reward for their efforts and it was clear from the outset that any Newcastle side minus Danny Buderus is almost as disorganised as one without Andrew Johns.

Newcastle kept themselves in contention with a try just prior to halftime ? the Warriors holding a 14-6 advantage at the break.

But the Warriors snuffed out any possible Newcastle comeback with three tries in the first 20 minutes after halftime.

Kiwi international Sione Faumuina was outstanding this afternoon, wreaking havoc for the Newcastle defenders and seemed to make it his own personal mission to dominate the Knights? pack physically. His offload proved to be very difficult for the Knights to shut down.

Other performances of note today came from halves Grant Rovelli and Jerome Ropati who steered the Warriors in the right direction for the full 80 minutes, something their Newcastle counterparts ? Andrew Johns and Kurt Gidley, failed miserably at doing.

Both sides appear to have escaped this match with a clean bill of health but a few spiteful incidents will come under close video examination by the match review committee tomorrow.

Three straight losses now for Newcastle, who are staring down the barrel of missing the top eight this season if they don?t improve their attacking cohesion any time shortly. They meet Cronulla next Saturday night at home and the way the Sharks are playing, that won?t be any easy task.

The Warriors will be thinking what might have been if they weren?t forced to start season 2006 on minus four competition points. They can still play the spoiler though and they really should focus on rectifying their poor record on home turf. After today?s performance, it appears that steps have already been taken in that regard.

New Zealand Warriors: 30
Tries: Sione Faumuina, Nathan Fien(2), Steve Price, Jerome Ropati
Goals: Tony Martin 5/6
Newcastle Knights: 18
Tries: George Carmont, Todd Lowrie, Brian Carney
Goals: Andrew Johns 3/3

Halftime: Warriors 14-6
Crowd: 6,240

By the Clock:
Ericsson Stadium is the venue for this round 15 clash between the New Zealand Warriors and the Newcastle Knights.

Warriors: Just one change for the home side with Awen Guttenbeil reverting to the bench; Michael Luck comes into the starting side.

Knights: A Couple of changes: Nathan Hinton and Kirk Reynoldson come in for Danny Buderus and David Seage.

KICKOFF! Match underway in Auckland

6 min: NEWS NO TRY: The Warriors deny the Knights early on as Manu Vatuvei manages to force the ball in-goal before Anthony Quinn could score for Newcastle. The Knights are still on the attack here. Still 0-all.

14 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Simple try for the Warriors. Nathan Fien scoots from dummy half on the last tackle and plants the ball down near the posts. Poor defence from Newcastle there.
Warriors 6-0

20 min: NEWS Some heavy contact between both clubs with Davico and Perry in the mix for the Knights, whilst Faumuina and Wiki playing hard for the Warriors.

25 min: PENALTY GOAL New Zealand Warriors
Martin puts the home side ahead by a further 2 points after slotting a goal from a penalty. Brent Webb was shaken pretty hard as Newton came across in a tackle and made contact with his head. Warriors looking solid as light rain begins to fall.
Warriors 8-0

28 min: NEWS NO TRY - Hinton denied a four-pointer due to a blatant double-movement. After some good hands from Johns and Gidley, Carney cruised down the flank before kicking in-field for the rookie back, who got a bit too excited.

30 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Fien scores his second for the day as a good bust up the middle by Gettenbeil who finds Webb in support, who in turn off loads to the flying hooker. Martin adds the extras and the Warriors are looking good.
Warriors 14-0

35 min: NEWS Another chip into the ingoal from Johns fails as Gidley misses it completely only for Carney to make a meal of it as well.

37 min: TRY Newcastle Knights
This time it comes off for the Knights down the eastern side with Johns flicking to Gidley who offers Carney a clear passage to the line. Johns kicks it from the sideline and the Knights strike back just prior to the break.
Warriors 14-6

40 min: NEWS Halftime: The Warriors hold off a late charge by the Knights to go into the sheds with an 8-point advantage. The home side are playing well and their forward pack is certainly taking it up to the Knights. They've created a few opportunities and are certainly the better side at the moment. They would be a bit disappointed that they let the Knights in, but they've been targeted down Vatuvei's wing all day.

For the Knights, they're probably a bit surprised at the plucky Warriors who appear rejuvenated after last week's victory over the Roosters. On top of that they look a bit rusty coming off the bye. Newcastle have more points in them but it's a matter of how well they their execute their plays, which has been pretty ordinary. I think we're in for a cracker of a second half, but the Warriors have to be careful not to protect a lead.

RESTART! Second half underway.

45 min: NEWS Newcastle diffuse a testing situation with a precise cross-field kick from Rovelli finding Vatuvei who comes within inches of scoring. Both teams scoping opportunites early in the second half.

50 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Rovelli puts in another pin-point kick close to the line after being flagged by Faumuina who rushes through and claims the footy, evading the cover to score next to the sticks. Martin converts and the Knights are looking in real strife.
Warriors 20-6

55 min: NEWS The Knights are struggling to penetrate the Warriors line coming up short after several minutes pressing the stripe. New Zealand look the better all-round side with some scrambling defence proving too good for the Knights attackers.

57 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Ropati stands-up Johns pointlessly as he motors 35m to score in the corner and go a long way to securing the match for the Warriors. Martin fails from the sideline and the home team are three converted tries clear.
Warriors 24-6

60 min: NEWS I haven't seen the Knights play this poorly for a while, but full credit to the Warriors who are putting them under plenty of pressure and are very enthusiastic today.

62 min: NEWS Riley Brown (Knights) leaves the field with a shoulder injury.

63 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Steve Price celebrates his 250th game in style by scoring a try next to the posts without a finger laid on him. The Warriors are all over the Knights today and thoroughly deserve this victory. Martin adds the extras and it's getting a little embarrassing for Newcastle and there's still a shade over 15 minutes left.
Warriors 30-6

67 min: NEWS Crowd: 6,240. That is terrible!

72 min: NEWS The game is turning a bit scrappy here as both sides throw the ball about with gay abandon. It's not sticking though.

75 min: TRY Newcastle Knights
The Knights bag a consolation try through Todd Lowrie after a neat blindside play involving Johns and Carmont. Joey kicks his second from a difficult position today.
Warriors 30-12

77 min: NEWS Patrick Ah Van gets 10 minutes in the bin for a professional foul on Anthony Quinn.

78 min: TRY Newcastle Knights
Another late try to the Knights through George Carmont adds a bit of credibility to the scoreline. Johns adds another beauty from the sideline.
Warriors 30-18

80 min: NEWS And the Warriors cause an upset here in Auckland, running out good winners despite the Knights rallying late to score two tries.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Sione Faumuina
2 - Grant Rovelli
1 - Jerome Ropati