The New Zealand Warriors claimed the scalp of a second consecutive premiership contender tonight enabling Matthew Elliott to celebrate his 250th game as a NRL coach in style as the Sydney Roosters were upset 23-12 at Allianz Stadium.
Almost a month after the Warriors club-record loss was added to Elliott's CV, the Australian savoured success against his previous employer as the Warriors strung four wins together for the first time since July 2011 on the back of a superb defensive effort and break out tries to Glen Fisiiahi and Manu Vatuvei.
Buoyed by a gritty 18-16 victory over Manly last weekend, the Warriors downed the third-placed Roosters to improve from 14th to a provisional 11th ahead of the round closing fixture between Brisbane and the Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.
The Warriors are also guaranteed another two points from their first bye next weekend and then resume their campaign against the Broncos on June 30, an opponent they flogged 56-18 earlier this month.
A committed performance continues the Warriors resurgence since a humiliating 62-6 loss at Penrith on May 18 -- an outcome that saw fans calling for Elliott's dismissal.
The contest was preceded by the announcement of the New South Wales squad for the second State of Origin clash on Wednesday week in Brisbane and early on Blues halves James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce were upstaged early by their Warriors counterparts.
Thomas Leuluai and Shaun Johnson combined to put man of the match Elijah Taylor through a hole and past Mitchell Aubusson in the fourth minute to score handy to the posts for Feleti Mateo, who took over the goal kicking role from the Kiwis halfback.
Johnson and Leuluai also had a role in the Warriors second to Ngani Laumape although it was sleight of hand from captain Simon Mannering that produced the rookie wing's touchdown despite unfounded claims of obstruction by Anthony Minichiello.
The Warriors 10-point buffer was enhanced by desperate scrambling defence, notably by Johnson who ran down Michael Jennings after the NSW centre pounced on an ambitious offload by Mannering.
A Minichiello forward pass sabotaged a certain score as the Roosters gathered momentum and with three minutes remaining the Warriors were on the verge of holding an opponent scoreless for a half for the first time this season.
However, a charge by New Zealand-born Tonga international Sam Moa -- back in action after missing five rounds with a knee injury -- set up Minichiello and just before the siren Williams brushed aside returning back rower Todd Lowrie to cross from close range for Maloney to push the Roosters in front.
Williams was largely confined to defensive duties as the Warriors made an efficient start but inevitably he was a key component of the Roosters resurgence with two line breaks and four offloads in the opening 40 minutes.
The Warriors regrouped after the break though their mental resilience was tested when Fisiiahi and Ben Matulino were denied tries by video referees Jason Robinson and Justin Morgan.
Fisiiahi was ruled to have lost control of a Johnson grubber before sliding over the dead ball line while Dane Nielsen knocked on a cross kick by the playmaker before Matulino touched down.
Lowrie, featuring for the first time since suffering a rib injury during the debacle at Penrith, made amends for his defensive lapse with a neat flick to Fisiiahi who raced 80m to the posts.
The fullback then made a crucial try-saving swipe at Shaun Kenny-Dowall who lost the ball who poised to regain the lead.
The Kiwis centre then capped an unfortunate night when his grubber was trapped and picked up by Vatuvei who ran 90m to the left hand corner past a throng of Warriors fans with 10 minutes remaining.
Johnson then added a penalty four minutes from time when a short line drop out went awry and a field goal to underscore the Warriors composure and growing self belief.
NZ Warriors 23 (Elijah Taylor, Ngani Laumape, Glen Fisiiahi, Manu Vatuvei tries; Feleti Mateo 2 goals; Shaun Johnson goal, field goal)
Sydney Roosters 12 (Anthony Minichiello, Sonny Bill Williams tries; James Maloney 2 goals)
- © Fairfax NZ News
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