The Wyong Roos have kept their place in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW top eight by toppling the New Zealand Warriors 20-16 in wet conditions at Morry Breen Oval this afternoon.
The Roos handled the slippery conditions and maintained possession better than the Warriors, whilst making the most of their chances in a grinding affair to secure a hard-fought victory.
After a tight opening 10 minutes, Roos hooker Mitch Williams got out of dummy-half in the 11th minute from close range to link up with five-eighth Joey Lussick, who sent out a pass to winger Omar Slaimankhel to open the scoring in the corner. Tyler Cornish converted for the Roos to lead 6-0.
After the next 15 minutes became a prolonged arm wrestle, the Warriors struck back on the back of a penalty when centre Semisi Tyrell finished off an overlap down the left to score in the corner. Masokn Lino converted to lock up the scores at six apiece.
Wyong regained the lead five minutes later when Cornish landed a penalty goal from in front of the posts after James Bell was penalised for a flop tackle in a ruck.
On the back of a Shaun Lane mistake in possession for the Warriors, Wyong scored the key try in the shadows of half-time.
The Roos worked their way from the scrum win to the right side for Cornish to turn an inside pass back to second rower Chris Smith who strolled through a yawning gap in the Warriors goal line defence to score behind the posts. Cornish converted and the Roos led 14-6 at half-time.
As rain began to fall more heavily at the start of the second half, the Warriors began to work their way back into the contest.
After receiving three straight penalties from referee Ryan Jackson, the Warriors applied enough sustained pressure for prop Toafofoa Sipley to crash over in the 60th minute. Lino converted to bring the scores back to 14-12.
After Tyrell coughed the ball up from the restart, Wyong pounced on the next set from the ensuing scrum win.
A Cornish grubber kick in goal on the last tackle bounced through Warriors fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in the last line for opposite number Dominic Reardon to score. Cornish converted to extend the Roos lead to 20-12.
As time ran down with Wyong comfortable in their lead, the Warriors’ frustrations with their turnovers in possession spilled over when prop James Gavet was sin binned by referee Gavet with six minutes left for taking an ‘air swing’ punch at a play the ball from marker.
That did not stop the Warriors from scoring the try of the match with three minutes left.
A Lino cross field kick from deep inside his own half was spectacularly caught by centre Jonathan Wright in the clear. Wright then sent winger Viliami Kaveinga away to score in the corner to set up a grandstand finish at 20-16.
The Warriors had one last set in the final minute that was held out well enough by Wyong for the Roos to run down the clock in possession and close down their win.
The Roos travel to St Marys Stadium next Saturday to take on the Robbie Farah-led Wests Tigers in another vital match in top eight calculations, while the Warriors play their last away game for the season against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at the Belmore Sports Ground next Saturday.