Finals-bound Warriors continue Newcastle’s terrible trans-Tasman run
The Warriors kept alive their hopes of a top-four berth in the NRL play-offs with a 20-4 win on Friday that extended Newcastle's miserable run at Mt Smart Stadium.
Play-off spectators for the past six seasons, the Warriors climbed to sixth on the ladder with 28 points.
Pretty in pink: Warriors tryscorer David Fusitu’a runs at Aidan Guerra last night.
With three games to play, their top-eight berth seems assured and all that remains to be decided is how highly they place and whether they can secure home-ground advantage in the finals.
For Newcastle, it was their 13th loss in the past 14 visits to Auckland.
Their only victory across the Tasman since the retirement of Andrew Johns was in 2012.
The Knights started strongly and drew first blood in the 12th minute, when winger Ken Sio beat several attempted tackles to crash over and score his ninth try of the season.
Replays suggested the cut-out pass Newcastle skipper Mitchell Pearce threw to Sio may have been forward.
From wide out, Sio missed the conversion attempt.
Gritty defence kept the Warriors at bay until the 29th minute, when they switched play and kept the ball alive for veteran back-rower Adam Blair to score his first try of the year.
Halfback Shaun Johnson's goal made it 6-4 to the home side.
They increased that advantage five minutes late when they again attacked Newcastle's left edge and in-form winger David Fusitu'a burst through Kalyn Ponga's cover tackle to score.
It was Fusitu'a's 16th try for the year and his 11th in six games against the Knights – easily his best strike-rate against any team.
Eleven minutes after the break, Warriors five-eighth Blake Green exposed some tiring defence by dummying and beating three defenders to dive over.
Johnson's third conversion from as many attempts made it 18-4.
A Johnson penalty goal in the 78th minute rounded out the scoring.
The match was a milestone for a number of players.
Pearce and Warriors hooker Issac Luke were playing their 250th games in the NRL, while young bench forward Pasami Saulo made his debut for Newcastle, becoming the 300th player to wear the red and blue.
Knights forward Chris Heighington made his 336th NRL appearance, moving to equal-seventh on the list with former Test captain Brad Fittler.
NZ WARRIORS 20 (A Blair D Fusitua B Green tries S Johnson 4 goals) NEWCASTLE 4 (K Sio try) at Mt Smart Stadium. Referees: Matt Cecchin, Alan Shortall. Crowd: 14,395.
Source: Read Full Article