Warriors drum up tough win over Broncos

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 21:58 23/02/2013
Manu Vatuvei
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
GOING DOWN: Manu Vatuvei is tackled in the Warrior's preseason NRL match against the Brisbane Broncos in Dunedin.

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A try on debut and a player of the day rap from his coach represented an excellent first game for Warriors newcomer Todd Lowrie after tonight's 16-10 NRL trial match win over the Broncos in Dunedin.

''He actually, defensively as well as his work on attack, I thought he was our best player by a fair streak. He was outstanding,'' Warriors coach Matthew Elliott said after the game.

The Warriors scored three second-half tries after the Broncos were denied four of their own in the first half by the television official, with Lowrie's score with 10 minutes to go virtually sealing the win.

''I thought defensively we were outstanding, which is pleasing,'' Elliott said.

''We've still got some work to do with the ball though. It was just nice to see, for the boys' sake, that they got a little bit of reward for the hard work they put in.''

The Warriors will learn more today about Shaun Johnson's fitness after he left the field early in the second half clutching a forearm, Elliott said.

After leading by one goal at halftime, the Warriors tightened up their game and made the most of a bit of good fortune to run in three second-half tries in front of a 15,000-strong crowd at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The Warriors went to halftime gasping after spending much of the first half on defence through a combination of some dangerous Broncos attacking and their own poor discipline.

Playing with the benefit of a heavy penalty count, the Broncos must have looked up at the scoreboard with a bit of  bewilderment after getting over the line four times in the first half hour without being awarded a try.

Wing Lachlan Maranta was denied twice, once when a loose ball out the back from Manu Vatuvei was judged to have been played at by the Broncos, while Maranta's second attempt was ruled out after his right toe clipped a couple of blades of the stadium's space age grass.

What looked destined to be a scoreless opening spell was ruined by the Warriors when they opted to take a penalty from in front of the posts with time up in the half, Johnson banging over the points for a 2-nil lead at the break.

A halftime streaker, who was brought down by Warriors trainer Ruben Wiki, provided as much entertainment as the entire first half.

Glen Fisiiahi helped shore up one wing for the Warriors after Billy Tupou left the field following a head knock in the first quarter, while tryscorer Justin Hodges looked the most dangerous of the Broncos players throughout.

There was more frustration after the break when Broncos big man Sam Thaiday lost the ball in-goal as he juggled Andrew McCullough's cheeky grubber from dummy half.

Finally, in the 50th minute, Maranta managed to convince the officials he deserved to score, crossing in the corner from a shortside raid with the benefit of Hodges' quick hands.

Scott Prince converted from the sidelines for a 6-2 lead.

The Warriors grabbed the lead back with a quality try as Vatuvei latched onto the accurate grubber kick of Pita Godinet, who wasn't able to convert from wideout.

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Fisiiahi scored just after the hour mark when he reacted the best to some loose ball and Lowrie made the game safe with 10 to play.

''Glen Fisiiahi got a chance today and his play on the wing and at fullback was outstanding. I was really happy with that,'' Elliott said.

''Pita Godinet, when he came on, gave us some real direction and he put some pressure on.''

The Warrriors now have a two week break before their competition opener against the Eels in Sydney on March 9.

Warriors 16 (Manu Vatuvei, Glen Fisiiahi, Todd Lowrie tries; Shaun Johnson pen, Pita Godinet con) vs Broncos 10 (Lachlan Maranta, Justin Hodges tries; Scott Prince con). Half-time: 2-0

- The Southland Times

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