Clinical Warriors overcome Knights

Publish Date
Monday, 1 April 2024, 6:00AM

By Michael Burgess

This was more like the Warriors we have come to know.

After being hot and cold for the first three rounds, coach Andrew Webster’s team produced a much more complete performance, overcoming the Newcastle Knights 20-12 on Sunday evening.

They were clinical when it mattered and defensively strong, even if they got the wobbles towards the end as the Knights went for broke.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck had an eye-catching game at fullback, which will only add to the debate around his best position, as he ran for almost 300m and made some brilliant breaks, a constant threat out wide and up the middle.

But everybody stood up, in the ultimate collective effort, for their second victory of the season, in front of an vocal Easter Sunday crowd of 24,112.

The only sour note was the loss of half Luke Metcalf, with what looked like a serious leg injury, as he was taken to hospital after the match.

But it was the kind of display that can lay a foundation, after an uncertain start to this year and remind the rest of the competition just what the Warriors are about.

Newcastle can be a formidable opponent but they were simply muscled out of the contest.

The Warriors’ defence at times was top notch, with one particular second-half set – with try-saving stops from Shaun Johnson, Adam Pompey and Jackson Ford – bringing back memories of 2023.

There were still moments where they invited pressure, but generally the Warriors were much more disciplined and composed.

Chanel Harris-Tavita was a late inclusion for Freddy Lussick, with Jazz Tevaga replacing Dylan Walker in the 17 on Saturday night.

Harris-Tavita entered the fray in the 11th minute, after Metcalf injured his right leg in an awkward tackle.

The Warriors went close through Rocco Berry - with the bunker finding a knock-on, that was hard to detect at first glance – but were mostly smothered by excellent Newcastle defence.

They could have got frustrated, with penalties and repeat sets not bearing fruit but finally broke through in the 15th minute with Ford running a nice line off a delayed Johnson pass, after a Marcelo Montoya bust had gathered momentum. Three minutes later there was more, with Harris-Tavita backing up a signature Wayde Egan break to cross under the posts, for his first try at Mt Smart since July 2022.

The Warriors were dominant, but Kalyn Ponga was a constant threat, twice sparking breaks on the left flank, with one requiring a strong Tuivasa-Sheck stop. Ponga also produced a dazzling 40m run – beating five defenders – before Tuivasa-Sheck had his own moment of magic, with two brilliant left foot steps and a fend to bring the crowd to their feet.

Newcastle finally got the try their efforts deserved, even if it came out of the blue, as Tyson Frizell stormed onto a well-placed grubber five minutes before the break. That lifted the Knights, who had a couple of other opportunities and went into halftime with momentum.

The Warriors restored their advantage through a soaring Marcelo Montoya, who leapt superbly to gather a Harris-Tavita bomb. It came after one of the Warriors’ best yardage sets, with several incursions. Frizell was fortunate to avoid the sin bin – after a hip drop tackle on Egan – but the home side maintained the pressure, with Kurt Capewell and Harris-Tavita going close.

A Johnson penalty extended the lead, before Bradman Best’s 74th-minute try – created by Ponga, who else – set up a tight finale.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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