NZ Warriors too good for Newcastle Knights
Simon Mannering had the perfect game to bring up his 200th appearance and 100th game as captain tonight as the Warriors defeated the Knights 38-18 at Mt Smart Stadium.
Mannering, who had been the centre of attention in the build up to this game, scored two tries in the first half to help the Warriors record their fourth win in five games.
Like their victory against the Titans on the Gold Coast last weekend, it wasn't an outstanding performance from the Warriors and they allowed the Knights to get into the game in the second half, but they've shown under new coach, Andrew McFadden, that all their wins don't have to be spectacular and they're capable of grinding it out for victories.
However, it was the Knights who started the brighter and after five minutes they were put into a great attacking position when Manu Vatuvei knocked the ball on at his 30m line. From the next set of six Tyrone Roberts was the only player to jump for a Jarrod Mullen bomb and was rewarded with a try.
But Mannering, on his special day, scored a superb solo try by regathering his own grubber kick to beat the defence and then grounded the ball.
The Warriors' next try in the 18th minute was a work of art, Shaun Johnson put up a big cross field kick, Vatuvei tipped it back straight into the waiting arms of Sam Tomkins, who only had to travel two metres to score.
In the 24th minute Vatuvei plucked from the air another big cross field kick, from Chad Townsend, and this time finished it off himself for the third Warriors try.
The one-way traffic stopped when Joey Leilua scored for the Knights on the half hour mark.
Josh Mantellato's conversion made the score 16-14 in the Warriors' favour which wasn't a big lead for their dominance, but in the last minute of the half Mannering grabbed his second try, again coming from him being able to weigh up a situation instantly and charge over the line.
It took 13 minutes of play in the second half for the next points to come with Robbie Rochow able to brush aside Tomkins on a 5m run to score.
David Fusitu'a came close to scoring from a 95m run later in the half but was tackled just before the line by Darius Boyd, but they got their important fifth try to extend their lead again when Townsend was first to a spilt ball from Chris Houston and then ran in for the score.
Konrad Hurrell got the final try for the Warriors as morale dropped in the Knights side and this ended up being a comfortable victory against a team that's lost its last five games.
Earlier, the Warriors' reserve grade side fought back from being down 12-0 early on against the Knights to win 34-12, while the Under 20s also beat their Novocastrian opposition, 34-22.
The Warriors are one of only six teams that haven't benefitted from getting two automatic points by having a bye over the last couple of rounds and because of that, they haven't made much progress up the points ladder.
However the way they've played over the past month would suggest that a place in the top four isn't out of the question for the Warriors by the end of the season.