Full Time
2:00pm Sun March 26, 2023
Round 4 - Go Media Stadium, Penrose / Aotearoa - Crowd: 18595

Match Overview

The New Zealand Warriors have fought back from multiple 8-point deficits to outlast the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, winning 16 points to 14 in a hard fought encounter in Auckland.

It was the dream start for the Bulldogs, who after seeing off the opening set from the Warriors were marched upfield courtesy of a penalty and didn't put the early attacking opportunity to waste, spreading the ball right to Averillo who did well to bump off a Warriors defender and flick it out to Kiraz, who went over the first try. 

The strong start continued for the visitors, getting another penalty in good attacking position that prompted the Warriors into wasting their challenge. They took the gift two points on offer and had an 8-0 lead after 8 minutes. 

From there it was all the Warriors, who themselves got a flurry of penalties and set restarts to find themselves in good attacking position, but the Bulldogs did well to repel the initial attacking raids, and were on the verge of breaking the game open when Reed Mahoney kicked a superb 40/20. 

It wasn't to be though, with Edward Kosi taking a spectacular intercept that involved him tipping the ball up into the air and catching it. Their strong defensive pressure forced a forward pass from the Bulldogs, and they weren't to be denied this time. Shaun Johnson played nice and direct from the scrum win and sent a rampaging Viliami Vailea over the line to score. 

The score was 8-6, and both teams trading errors in the final 10 minutes of the first half meant it would remain that way at the break. 

The tone was set for the second half quite early on, with Adam Pompey appearing to score a try on the Warriors first opportunity. The ball came out and he regathered it, and it was controversially deemed not to be a strip, a call which proved consequential on the very next play, with Addo-Carr getting on the outside of Kosi and going the length to make it an 8-point lead once again.

The chaos continued, with Addo-Carr trying to avoid conceding a dropout by passing in his own in goal. It almost ended in disaster, but Jackson Ford dropped the ball, bombing a certain try. 

A few minutes later, the Warriors would finally get over, finding an overlap and sending Marcelo Montoya over in the corner. Johnson missed the kick, keeping it 14-10 to the Dogs.

The Warriors defence was tested multiple times in the second half, but as has been the case so far in 2023 they held firm every time. They forced Reed Mahoney into a grubber that ended up going dead, and would score off the resultant 7 tackle set, Shaun Johnson dummying his way over the line.

The try also had a touch of controversy about it, with Addin Fonua-Blake appearing to deny Reed Mahoney a chance to make a play at Johnson. It was confirmed by the bunker though and the Warriors had their first lead of the match.

The Bulldogs would get a penalty on their next possession and would launch an attacking raid on the Warriors, but once again they showed how much their defence has improved, turning Canterbury away for 12 straight plays. 

Time was running out for the Dogs, and it showed when Burton tried an early tackle kick in his own half that didn't come off. The Warriors would hold on for an impressive win from there, improving to 3-1 and keeping their spot in the top 4.

Next week, the Warriors have a trip to the Shire to take on the Sharks, while the Dogs are back at home against the Cowboys.

3. Shaun Johnson

2. Jackson Ford

1. Edward Kosi