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The New Zealand Warriors have continued their surge towards the finals as they have outmuscled a poor Cronulla Sharks outfit to win 18-4 at Mt Smart Stadium.
The win caps off a giant-killing Trifecta for the Warriors who have knocked off Premiership heavy-weights Brisbane and Melbourne in the last two weeks to drag their season out of obscurity and force their way into the Top Eight.
Attack has been the Sharks Achilles Heel all season and it was again their undoing tonight as they failed to apply any significant pressure against a relentless defensive performance from the Warriors.
The home side opened the scoring in the third minute through a Michael Witt penalty goal and just five minutes later they scored their first try against the run of play. Nathan Fien bust through the line after collecting a Sharks grubber and Jerome Ropati was able to continue the momentum on the next play as he fended off Fraser Anderson to break through and score.
When the Sharks hit back soon after through a Luke Covell try in the corner the game was shaping as a good attacking contest however the wet and cold conditions of Mt Smart Stadium restricted the clash to a display of dismal handling with few glimpses of attacking brilliance.
Manu Vatuvei showed his strength in the 20th minute when he barged his way over in the corner to take the Warriors lead to eight points and when the scores remained unchanged heading into the sheds both coaches would have emphasised ball control in the second half.
Unfortunately for Ricky Stuart his men didn't get the message as they were their own worst enemy with a sub-50% completion rate in the second stanza.
Lance Hohaia sealed victory for the home side when he collected an Ian Henderson short ball and spun over with ten minutes remaining.
The win means the Warriors jump from tenth to seventh for the time-being whilst Cronulla remain in third place and have all but ended their chances of winning the Minor Premiership.
In his second game back from injury Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon was put on report for a shoulder charge on Isaac De Gois that was deemed to be late by the referee.
Match Details New Zealand Warriors 18 def Cronulla Sharks 4 Round 23 - Saturday August 16th, 2008 5:30pm Venue: Mt Smart Stadium Referee: Tony Archer Touch Judges: Chris James, Russell Turner Video Referee: Graeme West Halftime: Warriors 12-4 Crowd: 10,417
New Zealand Warriors 18 Tries: Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, Lance Hohaia Goals: Michael Witt (3/5)
Cronulla Sharks 4 Tries: Luke Covell Goals: Luke Covell (0/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Nathan Fien (Warriors) 2 Points: Steve Price (Warriors) 1 Point: Isaac De Gois (Sharks)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
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