St George Illawarra swoop on Warriors weakness

DAVID LONG AT EDEN PARK
Last updated 19:17 15/03/2014
Jason Nightingale
PHIL WALTER/ Getty
Jason Nightingale

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The Warriors' Eden Park hoodoo remains intact as they were defeated 31-12 by the Dragons at the windswept stadium today.

It was their fourth game at the home of rugby in Auckland since 2011, and once again, this time in front of 14,392 spectators, they failed to pick up a win, leaving them winless after two rounds.

This was a marginally improved performance on last week from the Warriors, especially in the first half where they looked far more composed and up for the challenge than they did against the Eels last weekend.

Shaun Johnson got the backs moving well and Tomkins continued to find his feet in southern hemisphere league, although he continued to struggle under high balls.

Chad Townsend wasn't as impressive, at times the five-eighth was guilty of trying too hard to make something happen. With Thomas Leuluai now back training with the team, it's likely Townsend will soon have a battle on his hands to retain his spot.

Winger Manu Vatuvei pulled out this morning with a shoulder injury and was replaced by the highly promising David Fusitua, who was unlucky not to be selected in the first place after impressive performances in the Auckland Nines and trial game against the Broncos.

Fusitua had some nice touches, particularly early in the game, but there were a couple of moments in the second half that might keep him awake tonight.

Five minutes into the game Tomkins posted his first ever try in the NRL, with the England winger put into a hole thanks to a nicely timed pass from Townsend, with the move coming after a couple of big charges from Ben Matulino up the middle.

But like last week against the Tigers, the Dragons were able to work their way back into the game and they went ahead following a sneaky run under the posts from hooker Mitch Rein.

Thirteen minutes before the break, the Warriors' attack drifted wide to the right, close to the Dragons' line and Jerome Ropati looked like getting pushed out of bounds, but the veteran was able to change direction, cut back inside and score the try.

The Dragons came close to scoring seven minutes later when a Gareth Widdop chip and chase opened up the Warriors' defence and the attack was continued by Jason Nightingale. But it all came to nothing as Adam Quinlan allowed the ball to slip out of his hand as he attempted to ground it.

The last points of the half came from a Johnson penalty to make the score 12-6 at the break.

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Within a minute of the restart the Dragons were on level terms thanks to a howler from Tomkins, who fumbled a high ball, Quinlan scooped up the ball and got the try.

Gerrard Beale scored off a Widdop grubber two minutes later as all the good work the Warriors did in the first half was thrown away.

In the 54th minute Morris ran 100m for the Dragons' next try to end this game as a contest.

The game ended with more misery for the Warriors with Henry limping off with what looked like yet another knee injury.

But there was more to come, with a Widdop field goal and then another try to Ben Creagh.

And if the Warriors want some more bad news, they've got two more games to go at Eden Park this year.

Earlier in the day the Warriors reserve grade side drew with Illawarra 12-12, while in the NYC game the Dragons won 40-16.

- Stuff

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