NZ Warriors dispatch table-topping Panthers

23:24, Jun 29 2014
Matt Elliott
Coach Matt Elliott had no answers for Parramatta.
Chad Townsend
Warriors debutant Chad Townsend runs at the Parramatta line.
Dejected Warriors
Dejected Warriors players look on after giving up another try to the Eels.
Sam Tomkins
Fullback Sam Tomkins in action for his first match for the Warriors.
Glen Fisiiahi
Warriors wing Glen Fisiiahi is bundled into touch as he attempted to score.
Warriors fan
A lone Warriors fan at Parramatta Stadium.
Feleti Mateo
Feleti Mateo is pulled down in a tackle around the neck by a St George Illawarra player.
Simon Mannering
Warriors captain Simon Mannering walks off the field with head down.
Sam Tomkins
Sam Tomkins tries to fend off Dragons forward Mike Cooper.
Shaun Johnson
Shaun Johnson runs at the St George Illawarra defensive line.
Chad Townsend
Chad Townsend gives out some directions to the Warriors backline.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors is tackled by the Cowboys' Johnathan Thurston in during their clash in Townsville.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Konrad Hurrell blows a kiss to the crowd after scoring a try for the Warriors against the Cowboys.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Warriors coach Matt Elliott looks on as his side plays the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Sione Lousi celebrates after scoring for the Warriors against the Cowboys.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Sam Rapira makes a charge for the Warriors against the Wests Tigers at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Jayson Bukuya goes over to score for the Warriors against the Tigers.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Glen Fisiiahi shows great skill to get the ball down for a Warriors try against the Tigers.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
James Gavet of the Tigers is tackled hard by Jacob Lillyman of the Warriors at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Jacob Lillyman walks off the field after the Warriors' heavy loss to the Sharks in Cronulla.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Sam Tomkins of the Warriors tries to bring down the Sharks' Jeff Robson.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Glen Fisiiahi of the Warriors and Jonathan Wright of the Sharks compete for the ball.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Warriors coach Matt Elliott speaks to the media after his team's crushing loss to the Cronulla Sharks. It would be his last media session before losing his job in the wake of the loss.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Warriors captain Simon Mannering cannot hide his dejection after his team's agonising defeat at the death against the Canterbury Bulldogs at Eden Park.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Dominique Peyroux of the Warriors makes the hard yards against the Bulldogs.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
James Graham of the Bulldogs is stopped in his tracks by some resolute Warriors defence.
NZ Warriors 2014 season
Eden Park has never been a happy hunting ground for the Warriors and the defeat to the Bulldogs only added to an already woeful record there.
Shaun Johnson
Shaun Johnson dives after dotting down for a try in the rout of the Raiders.
Chad Townsend and Manu Vatuvei
Chad Townsend jumps on Manu Vatuvei's shoulders after the big wing's try at Eden Park.
Ben Matulino, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei
Ben Matulino, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei
Konrad Hurrell
Konrad Hurrell leaves Raiders defenders in his wake at Eden Park.
Konrad Hurrell
Warriors wing Ngani Laumape contests a high-ball with the Raiders' Bill Tupou.
David Fusitua
David Fusitua of the Warriors dives over in the corner to score.
Warriors
The Warriors line up for the national anthems before the Anzac Day match.
Warriors
Simon Mannering and the Warriors pose with the Michael Moore Trophy after beating the Melbourne Storm.
Sam Tomkins
Warriors fullback Sam Tomkins leaps in front of Billy Slater to grab a high-ball.
Ngani Laumape
Wing Ngani Laumape epitomises the disappointment after the Warriors' 20-10 loss to the Dragons.
Simon Mannering
Captain Simon Mannering wears the dejection on his face after losing at Kogarah.
Thomas Leuluai
Thomas Leuluai breaks through a St George Illawarra tackle.
Nathan Friend
Hooker Nathan Friend makes a run from dummy-half against the Dragons.
Simon Mannering
Simon Mannering forces his way over to score against the Gold Coast Titans.
Simon Mannering
Simon Mannering gets high-fives after scoring in his 200th match and 100th as captain.
Manu Vatuvei
Manu Vatuvei peers out from a pile of bodies to signal a try.
David Fusitu'a
Wing David Fusitu'a beats the Gold Coast defence to dive over in the corner.
Chad Townsend
Chad Townsend (right) leads a Warriors gang-tackle on Newcastle's Dane Gagai.
Ben Matulino
Ben Matulino off-loads with a back flick pass against the Titans.
Warriors fan
A Warriors super-fan with his face painted as the Joker on the Gold Coast.
Sam Tomkins
Sam Tomkins kicks-off for the Warriors against the Knights.
Sam Rapira
Sam Rapira (right) and Feleti Mateo run out of the tunnel at Mt Smart Stadium.
Jayson Bukuya
Jayson Bukuya looks to offload in the tackle of Kirisome Auva'a during the Warriors loss to South Sydney.
Simon Mannering
Things were looking good for the Warriors after Simon Mannering's 50th-minute try gave them a 14-6 lead. However they were outscored 28-4 from that point.
Chad Townsend and Simon Mannering
From the looks on Chad Townsend's (left) and Simon Mannering's faces, it's easy to tell the Warriors were outscored 28-8 in the second half.
Warriors fans
Warriors fans turned out in force for South Sydney's 'home' match in Perth.
Konrad Hurrell
Konrad Hurrell makes a break during the round 15 victory over the Brisbane Broncos.
Try
The Warriors celebrate Ben Henry's try during the round 15 win over the Brisbane Broncos.
Manu Vatuvei
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors beats the tackle of Todd Lowrie of the Broncos during the round 15 clash.
Tackle
Alex Glenn of the Broncos is tackled by three Warriors during the round 15 clash.
Shaun Johnson
Shaun Johnson celebrates after scoring a breakaway try against the Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
Shaun Johnson
Shaun Johnson breaks away on his way to scoring a try against the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
Manu Vatuvei
Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei charges forward during his side's round 16 NRL match against the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium.
Manu Vatuvei
Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei runs in to score a try against the Panthers.
Nigel Plum
Nigel Plum of the Panthers charges forward during his side's round 16 NRL match against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.
NZ Warriors
Fans' faith was rewarded by the Warriors at Mt Smart in round 19 of the NRL when their team trounced Parramatta Eels 48-0.
NZ Warriors
Sam Tomkins stretches out for a try in the Warriors' round 19 NRL clash with Parramatta Eels.
NZ Warriors
Feleti Mateo feels nothing in the contact in the Warriors' round 19 NRL clash with the Eels.
NZ Warriors
Ben Henry does feel the contact, however.
NZ Warriors
Sam Tomkins offloads in the tackle during the Warriors' round 19 NRL game against the Eels.
Ben Matulino
Ben Matulino is picked up and dumped by two Broncos players in Brisbane.
Shaun Johnson
Shaun Johnson chips over Broncos prop Josh McGuire.
Ben Henry
Ben Henry utility forward Ben Henry looks to steamroll Josh Hoffman.
Dale Copley
Warriors prop Suaia Matagi drags Brisbane wing Dale Copley by the scruff of the neck.
Josh Hoffman
Brisbane standoff Josh Hoffman grimaces in pain after a hit from Warriors Lock Sebastine Ikahihifo.
Warriors players
Dejected Warriors players at the final whistle at Suncorp Stadium.
Simon Mannering
Captain Simon Mannering delivers a message to his side.
Daley Cherry-Evans
Manly's Daley Cherry-Evans runs in to score against the Warriors in their round 20 clash.
Nathan Friend
Warriors hooker Nathan Friend gets into the clear against the Sea Eagles.
Konrad Hurrell
Konrad Hurrell barges over for another try against Manly in round 20.
Simon Mannering
Warriors captain Simon Mannering shows his disappointment after their loss to the Sea Eagles.
Ben Matulino
Warriors prop Ben Matulino on the charge against Manly.
Sam Tomkins
Warriors fullback Sam Tomkins retrieves a kick during the round 20 match against the Sea Eagles.
Konrad Hurrell
Konrad Hurrell celebrates yet another try against the Raiders in Canberra.
Manu Vatuvei
Big Warriors wing Manu Vatuvei is all smiles after this try against the Raiders.
Canberra Raiders
The Canberra Raiders huddle under their posts after one of the many Warriors tries during their round 21 clash.
Sam Rapira
Warriors prop Sam Rapira thuds into the Raiders defence.
Warriors
Several Warriors player make a tackle on Raiders big man Josh Papalii
Thomas Leuluai
Thomas Leuluai of the Warriors is hit in a big tackle by Raiders prop David Shillington.
Manu Vatuvei
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors looks to beat the tackle of Andrew Fifita (right) and Tupou Sopoaga of the Sharks during their round 22 clash at Mt Smart Stadium.
Feleti Mateo
Warriors backrower Feleti Mateo is lifted in a tackle during his side's round 22 NRL match against the Sharks.
Chad Townsend
Chad Townsend of the Warriors beats the tackle of Tim Robinson of the Sharks in round 22.
Ricky Leutele
Ricky Leutele of the Sharks looks to beat Warriors utility Thomas Leuluai's tackle in round 22 at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.
Ngani Laumape
Ngani Laumape of the Warriors is tackled by the Knights defence during the round 23 NRL match at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle.
Sione Louisi
Sione Louisi of the Warriors is tackled by Chris Houston of the Knights during the round 23 match at Hunter Stadium.
David Fusitu'a
Warriors winger David Fusitu'a scores a miracle try against the Knights at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle.
Kurt Gidley
Kurt Gidley of the Knights is tackled by Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson in round 23.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves charges forward during the Roosters' round 24 NRL match against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.
James Maloney
Former Warriors playmaker James Maloney runs circles around his old club during the Roosters' round 24 win at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.
Ben Matulino
Ben Matulino of the Warriors makes a hitup during his side's round 24 NRL match against the Sydney Roosters.
Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams of the Roosters attempts to break the line during his side's win over the Warriors in Auckland.
Sam Tomkins
Warriors fullback Sam Tomkins avoids the clutches of Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce in round 24 at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.
Dominique Peyroux
Warriors utility Dominique Peyroux celebrates with Sam Tomkins and Manu Vatuvei after scoring a try against the Titans.
Mark Ioane
Mark Ioane of the Titans charges forward during his side's loss to the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium in round 25.
Shaun Johnson
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors makes a break against the Titans in round 25 at Mt Smart Stadium.
Konrad Hurrell
Blockbusting Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell charges forward during his side's round 25 clash against the Gold Coast Titans at Mt Smart Stadium.
Nathan Friend
Warriors hooker Nathan Friend is tackled by two Titans defenders during his side's 42-0 win in round 25.
Will Smith
Will Smith of the Panthers is tackled during his side's round 26 win over the Warriors in Sydney.
Feleti Mateo
Warriors back-rower Feleti Mateo is tackled during his side's final regular season game against the Panthers.
Warriors players
Warriors players watch on after a Panthers try during their loss to Penrith in Sydney.
Matt Moylan
Penrith fullback Matt Moylan scores a try against the Warriors in round 26.
Manu Vatuvei
Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei is tackled during his side's round 26 loss to the Panthers.

Is this Warriors side the real deal?

The club that hasn't been in top eight for two years should find themselves sitting pretty just inside the sacred eight after a hard fought 30-20 win against the table topping Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium this afternoon. 

The game, in front of a crowd of 12,801, was played at a frenetic pace and it was not until crowd favourite Shaun Johnson scored a runaway try with seven minutes to go that Warriors fans would have been able to start to relax.

Shaun Johnson
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors looks to ofload the ball during the round 16 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Penrith Panthers at Mt Smart Stadium

The Warriors had lost the last three games against the Panthers coming into this game, including a humiliating 62-6 defeat last year, one of the club's darkest days.

But, despite at one stage going without touching the ball for 12 minutes this was never going to be a whitewash.

For the Warriors, Manu Vatuvei, who seems to be in some of his best form in recent years, was a stand out both in defence and under high balls. Feleti Mateo again sparked a number of plays through the middle and Sam Tomkins proved reliable as ever at the back.

But, again the men of the moment were Konrad Hurrell, who scored two tries, and Shaun Johnson who scored a try and converted five, including three from the sideline. He missed a last minute penalty after Peter Wallace took out Tomkins.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said he was chuffed with win.

"It's pretty important going into the bye. It was a tough game and they are a really good side. They are an awkward side to play."

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Shaun Johnson
SUPPORT NEEDED: Shaun Johnson of the Warriors looks to offload the ball.

Captain Simon Mannering said the side knew it was not going to be an easy win and there pressure was relentless.

"They put us under a lot of pressure but coming out from half time we addressed it and it allowed us to get back on our own game."

For the Panthers Bay of Plenty boy, Dean Whare caused all sorts of headaches for the Warriors outside backs as did the dancing feet of James Segeyaro and Tyrone Peachey.

The passing of the Panthers was sublime and the team made 18 offloads during the game compared with the Warriors' eight.

Panthers' coach Ivan Cleary said his side had not started well but "the way we played the second half of the first half was pretty much exactly how we wanted to play". Cleary said his side could not build pressure in the second half. 

Injury played havoc with both sides with the Warriors losing Jason Bukuya who was ruled out with concussion and Nathan Friend spent a portion of the game on the sideline. The Panthers lost their main playmaker in Jamie Soward, just before half time. 

The first 20 minutes was a Warriors onslaught with the Panthers having only completed one of four sets in that time. The Warriors, on the other hand, were completing close to 90 per cent of their sets after the same time.

Hurrell dived over in the right corner in the tackle of Jamal Idris after just two and a half minutes. 

The Panthers didn't get their first hit up until five minutes into the game and Manu Vatuvei danced over in the 14th minute.
But after a one sided affair for 20 minutes, the Panthers woke up and everything that had been going the Warriors way started to go the Panthers.

Peachey put Jamie Soward over with 15 minutes to go before the half time.

The next Panthers try seemed to come all too easy with Josh Mansour seeming to all but jog over in the left corner for his 11th try of the season. Any Warriors advantage was gone. Soward converted.

The Warriors went about 12 minutes without the ball at one stage and after leading 12-0 a Matt Moylan try just before half time saw the visitors go into the half up by four.

The Warriors came busting out of the gates in the second half with captain Simon Mannering barrelling over after in the tackle of Panthers' captain Peter Wallace after about seven minutes and Johnson's radar stuck again.

The defence of the New Zealand side also stepped up a level after half time and three straight penalties helped their cause.

The Panthers though refused to go down without a fight with Segeyaro sprinting over for a try with 15 to go.

The Warriors held their cool and a last gasp try to Hurrell,who dotted down just before the dead ball line, before the Johnson try sealed the game.

The Warriors have the bye next week before playing the Eels at home the weekend after.

McFadden said the team needed to keep winning.

"It is so congested at the top of the table there that if you have a couple of lean weeks and don't get the points you can slip down very quickly. 

"We are keeping ourselves in there and giving ourselves a chance. We can go into the bye now and get a good break." 

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