Warriors secure a top-four spot after surviving a scare from the Dragons.
The Warriors defeated the Dragons 18–6 in Auckland on Friday night, securing their place in the top four for the first time since 2007.
The Warriors won their 16th game of the season, but it appears that five-eighth Luke Metcalf’s hamstring injury came at a price.
The Warriors gave the kickoff a strange bounce, and Dragons center Zac Lomax dove to score. However, the bunker decided that Lomax had dropped the ball into Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad while attempting to retrieve it.
Following a six-again call, Adam Pompey’s angled run and pass from Metcalf allowed the Warriors to score their first try of the game in the fourteenth minute. It was Pompey’s fifth try of the year.
The Warriors entered the red zone as a result of a mistake made by Dragons hooker Connor Muhleisen at dummy half, and Nicoll-Klokstad punished them by scoring a touchdown through a Lomax tackle to make the score 10-0.
In the 26th minute, the Dragons suffered a double blow when rookie Sione Finau (leg) and Lomax (head knock) were forced off the field, forcing hooker Jacob Liddle to play on the left wing.
The Red V held on even though Addin Fonua-Blake lost possession of the ball while trying to ground it in the 35th minute, which should have given the home team a bigger lead.
When Liddle snuck over from dummy half in the 53rd minute, it appeared as though the Dragons had opened their account, but replays revealed he had lost control of the ball before getting it down.
With 19 minutes remaining, Billy Burns intercepted a Ben Hunt bomb and flicked it to Lomax, who scored his seventh try of the year. This allowed the Dragons to take the lead.
With seven minutes remaining, a mistake by Freddy Lussick gave the Dragons excellent field position; however, Zane Musgrove threw the ball on the second tackle, allowing the Warriors to win.
Shaun Johnson grubbered into the in-goal, Dragons fullback Tyrell Sloan botched the cleanup, and Fonua-Blake grounded it to give the Warriors the victory. After Pompey’s conversion made it 16–6, the score was 12 points after he added a late penalty goal.
For the first time since Round 7–14, 2002, when they won eight straight, the Warriors have now won seven in a row.
Snapshot of the Match
Halfback for the Warriors It was Shaun Johnson’s 250th NRL game.
In the 26th minute, Dragons center Zac Lomax left the field after passing an HIA.
When the referee declared that the Warriors had taken the ball away from Billy Burns in the 33rd minute, the bunker called lost ball, and the Warriors successfully challenged the call.
Dragons advance After a head collision in the 33rd minute, Dan Russell had to leave the field for a HIA. He was able to come back after passing.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, a fullback for the Warriors, broke nine tackles while running for 203 meters.
Victorian born in New Zealand With an ankle injury, Sione Finau had to be helped off the field in the 26th minute of his NRL debut for the Dragons.
Addin Fonua-Blake, a Warriors prop, ran 216 meters, while Tohu Harris covered 179 meters.
Dragons prop Blake Lawrie ran for 205 metres and made 44 tackles in defense of the ball.
In the 66th minute, the referee declared that Mikaele Ravalawa had lost the ball, but the bunker discovered that Wayde Egan had actually stripped it. The Dragons successfully challenged the call with a captain’s challenge.
In 2023, the Dragons have dropped all 12 of their away games.
The Game’s Play
After the Warriors let the kickoff bounce and nearly paid the ultimate price, the game ignited in just seven seconds. Attempting to return the bouncing ball to his fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was met with Dragons centre Zac Lomax, who raced through and appeared to have scored the fastest try in NRL history. Replays, unfortunately for the Red V, revealed that Lomax had accidentally knocked the ball into CNK while attempting to pull it in, sparing the Warriors’ blushes.
What They Stated
We are giving ourselves every opportunity to win games, but we are finding ways to lose them. It’s like Groundhog Day for us. We had 45% possession, were playing a strong team at home in front of 25,000 boisterous supporters, and nothing went our way. It’s disappointing and irritating to still be in the game with seven minutes remaining.” Ryan Carr, the Dragons’ acting coach.
“The boys’ defense tonight seemed incredible, in my opinion. I never thought the Dragons really looked like they were breaking us down, but they did score a try from a kick. Top four: an incredible accomplishment for the team… We will be moving on soon because we now have another objective.” Andrew Webster, coach of the Warriors.
The Warriors play the Dolphins in Brisbane to wrap up the regular season. In Round 14, the Warriors defeated the Dolphins 30-8 in Auckland.
In Round 27, the Dragons take on the dominant Knights team at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday night.