Warriors win nail-biter over Brisbane Broncos
DAVID LONG AT MT SMART STADIUM
The Warriors have recorded their fifth consecutive win, beating the Broncos 18-16 at Mt Smart Stadium and once again their victory had a dramatic finish.
For the second consecutive home game Konrad Hurrell was the man to save the day for the Warriors by scoring the match winning try, but unlike his dance through the Sea Eagles defence a few weeks ago, this time it was a long distance effort.
Trailing 16-12 to the Broncos with nine minutes to go Hurrell intercepted a pass from Scott Prince and raced 93 metres for the try and Shaun Johnson's conversion put the Warriors in front.
However, there was to be one more piece of drama in the game when the Broncos were awarded a penalty from 45m out in the final minute, which would have taken the game into golden point extra time, but much to the relief of the 15,515 spectators in attendance Corey Parker put the kick wide.
The Warriors had Kevin Locke returning to the side for this game, having recovered from his hip flexor injury from a few weeks ago, which meant Glen Fisiiahi moved to the wing and Ngani Laumape dropped down to the Vulcans.
However, prop Russell Packer missed the game because of an ankle injury picked up at training during the week and Suaia Matagi came into the 17. The Broncos lost Ben Hannant just before kick-off through a hamstring injury.
The Warriors started hot on attack and it seemed almost inevitable that they'd score the first try. It came in the 10th minute and was inspired by Feleti Mateo's offload to Dane Nielsen, who fed the ball out wide to Manu Vatuvei for his 10th try of the campaign.
Seven minutes later the Broncos were on the board when winger Lachlan Maranta forced down a grubber kick for a try.
A calamity in the Warriors defence led to the Broncos' second try, with Shaun Johnson and Fisiiahi clashing in the air trying to catch a bomb and Peter Wallace grabbed onto the loose ball to score.
Two minutes before the break the Warriors had their second four-pointer, with Vatuvei knocking back a high ball to Elijah Taylor just over the try line and gifting him the score.
Johnson's 16th successful kick in a row made the score 12-10 to the Warriors at halftime.
Six minutes into the second half the Broncos moved the ball between the hands while going to the left and when they went past the last Warriors' drifting defender Josh Hoffman, had space to run into for the try.
When Vatuvei limped off the field with a sore leg 25 minutes from time, it looked like the Warriors' unbeaten streak might be coming to an end.
But nine minutes from time, the Warriors' other special player, Hurrell nabbed a careless pass from Prince and raced away on a lung bursting 93 metre run for the try.
Sam Thaiday was the only Broncos player who had any chance of running him down, but he didn't have the stamina over the long distance to keep up with Hurrell, who went under the posts to allow Johnson to make the simple kick to put his side in front.
That looked to be the match and indeed it was, but that penalty kick from Parker in the final seconds of the match gave the Warriors fans some stress they could have done without.
In other results at Mt Smart Stadium today, the Vulcans beat Cronulla Sharks 18-16 in the NSW Cup and the Junior Warriors triumphed over the Broncos 34-28 in the Holden Cup.
Warriors 18 (Manu Vatuvei, Elijah Taylor tries; Shaun Johnson 2 goals) Broncos 16 (Lachlan Maranta, Peter Wallace, Josh Hoffman tries; Scott Prince 2 goals)
What did you make of the Warriors' ninth-place finish in 2014?