Mounties have come away with another impressive win in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, defeating the New Zealand Warriors 32-22 at GIO Stadium.
In extremely windy conditions in the nation's capital, Mounties looked like blowing the Warriors off the park early, but the visitors managed to keep up for what was a see-sawing battle between two quality sides. Clay Priest was a deserved Man of the Match for the home side, while Charnze Nicoll-Klokstadd was impressive in picking up a hat-trick for the Warriors.
While the visitors remained 1-17 as named on Tuesday, Mounties were to be boosted by the inclusion of 2016 Country Origin representative Paul Vaughan at lock. A reshuffle also saw Sam Duggan come into the halves and Lachlan Croker move to the hooking role.
Kato Ottio wasted no time in getting his side on the board thanks to an incredible team try in the third minute. When Croker pounced on a kick deflection and found space, he put a neat grubber in for Brenko Lee, who came up with a freakish flick pass for Ottio. Sam Williams missed the conversion but his side had a 4-0 lead.
Just two minutes passed and the home side went back to back; Mounties spreaded it to the left this time and Zac Santo held it up long enough to send Alofi Mataeli over untouched. Once again Williams missed from out wide and after just six minutes Mounties led eight points to nil.
There were more danger signs for the Warriors defence, which appeared to be close to letting in another four-pointer. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstadd brought some relief in the 10th minute, however, burning the opposition for speed to score the Warriors' first try. The try was converted in the gale-force wind by Mason Lino.
There were worrying scenes as Croker went down with an apparent knee injury in the 27th minute; the acting hooker fell awkwardly after a tackle from Lino and was forced from the field. Mounties' attack didn't falter, however, with Lee combining with Ottio for a clever 60m try of his own just minutes later.
The first half was winding down but the Warriors weren't done with yet, with Jonathan Wright breaking several tackles and offloading for Nicoll-Klokstadd to bag a double. With the conversion successful it was 14-12 - a scoreline that would remain until the half-time break.
As has become custom for Mounties, they came bursting out of the blocks and scored their fourth try early in the second stanza. Brent Naden showed his strength to beat several Warriors defenders and find the tryline, converted to re-establish an eight-point lead.
Once again, the pendulum swung the way of the Warriors thanks for a 40-20 from Lino. In dangerous field position, the visitors made no mistake and an Erin Clarke cut-out pass helped set up Semisi Tyrell in one of his first touches of the game.
The game reached its three quarter mark and Williams came up with the goods for his side. A perfectly-placed grubber was chased down by Clay Priest, who beat Shaun Lane to score under the posts and take the score to 26-18.
The Warriors were looking ominous for the next 15 minutes and eventually found their way to the line once again. Offloads from Ligi Sao and Shaun Lane got Lino into broken play, who was too classy and got the ball to Nicoll-Klokstadd for his third. With the conversion missed, however, the Warriors still trailed by four points with five minutes remaining.
With the bulk of posession, the men from Auckland had the opportunity to steal the lead for the first time in the dying stages - but when Lino failed to find touch from a penalty it was all but over for the Warriors. Paul Vaughan crashed over in the 78th minute to put the nail in the coffin, making a full-time scoreline of 32-22 and sealing Mounties' 14th win for the season.