Warriors Survive Sea Eagles Scare
The in-form Warriors have survived a scare from the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Mt Smart Stadium, defeating their opponents 26-14 to remain undefeated in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.
While the Sea Eagles' Lloyd Perrett, Cameron Cullen and Joey Lussick all played strongly, it was Mason Lino who was the star of the show, having a hand in several tries and scoring one himself. His teammates Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Sam Cook and Bunty Afoa also helped the Warriors to the Round 5 victory.
As has been custom for the Sea Eagles over the opening part of the season, they came out firing and a well-placed grubber from Cullen soon earned the Sea Eagles a repeat set. The visitors would capitalise on the attacking opportunity; a Lloyd Perrett offload almost had Viliami Kaveinga over the line, before Joey Lussick dived over from dummy-half in the next play. He converted his own try to make a six-point advantage.
Things quickly turned around for Lussick, however, as the Sea Eagles were put under pressure for the first time due to consecutive errors. Ofahiki Ogden charged in from a short ball and managed to push past Lussick, with the try converted to lock scores at 6-6.
With the subsequent kick-off going out on the full, the Warriors were back on the attack and posted more points via Bunty Afoa. The big man showed nice footwork as he dived towards the line, with Mason Lino missing the conversion for a 10-6 scoreline.
Ill discipline was hurting both sides, with a high turnover of ball in the next 15 minutes, but when the Sea Eagles got back in the Warriors' zone they showed great energy thanks largely to Cameron Cullen. Cullen darted from dummy-half and threw a good ball to his captain Brendan Attwood, who hit the line at speed to score his side's second. With Lussick's conversion attempt waved away the scores were locked once again.
The end-to-end football continued until the half-time break and scored remained at 10 points apiece when both sides went into the sheds.
Blacktown came out of the blocks firing with some strong runs from Perrett and Attwood, but it would be their opponents to get on the scoreboard next; Sam Cook faked right from dummy-half before going himself, dropping below three defenders to reach the try line when all seemed lost. With the conversion from in front it was 16-10 in favour of the Warriors.
Five minutes later, it was time for yet another dummy-half try - this time through the Sea Eagles' Dean Parata. The 25-year-old had only just come onto the field for the first time when he found himself in a good position, thanks to a grapple tackle penalty from the Warriors. From close range, Parata took advantage of a shortage in defenders and dived over for a simple try. Matthew Wright failed to add the extras, so the Sea Eagles still trailed 16-14.
When Kaveinga dropped a Warriors bomb it handed them another chance at an attacking raid, with Lino compounding the damage with a forced dropout. On the back of that repeat set the halfback laid on his side's next try, finding a rampaging Afoa who scored his second. Lino converted for a 22-14 lead.
The game hit a stumbling block when Tevin Arona was stretchered from the field with an ankle injury, but upon the resumption Lino once again forced a dropout. That restart found touch, however, handing the Sea Eagles a golden opportunity to hit back. With Godinet's attempt at a repeat set trailing dead, they failed to reduce the deficit.
Having almost sealed the game for his side, Lino scored a well-deserved try off the back of a shift right from Sam Cook and Jazz Tevaga. Lino exploited a sliding defence to throw a dummy and slide through the gap, bringing scores to 26-14. That score would remain until the game's conclusion.
Warriors 26 (B Afoa 2, O Ogden, S Cook, M Lino tries; M Lino 3 goals) def Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles 14 (J Lussick, B Attwood, D Parata tries; J Lussick goal)