In an intense showdown on Sunday afternoon the Warriors travelled to Newcastle and were able to defeat the Knights 32 – 24 at Energy Australia Stadium, in front of a small crowd of just 10,500 Newcastle fans who have been given little to cheer for this season.
It was a disappointing result for Newcastle, who have now lost their last three pushing them down into the 14th spot on the ladder.
New Zealand on the other hand, are just two spots out of the top eight, Sunday’s win giving them a real shot at making it through to this year’s finals.
The scoring in Sunday’s entertaining match started early when the Knights Junior Sau opened their account in the 5th minute. Wes Naiqama, who had a perfect four from four kicking game, converted the try and the home side held an early six point lead.
But it wasn’t for long as the Warriors Joel Moon scored their opening try in the 11th minute, and five-eighth James Maloney, who also had a perfect record with the boot on Sunday, converted to tie the score six all.
Maloney was in red hot form and was instrumental to the Warrior’s win, his six kicks and final try giving him a total haul of 16 points.
Seven minutes later New Zealand scored again, this time Manu Vatuvei getting over in the 18th minute, his first of an eventual match double, and the conversion pushed them in front 12 – 6.
The Knights fought back when Zeb Taia scored in the 24th minute, and after a nail biting first half the scores were tied 12 all.
Back from the break it was the Warriors who were first to score, Jeremy Latimore getting a converted try in the 53rd minute so New Zealand were in front again 18 – 12.
The see-sawing continued four minutes later when Newcastle’s Akuila Uate scored a 57th minute try, again converted by Naiqama and they were locked 18 all.
Vatuvei completed his double in the 63rd minute and then the Warriors were awarded a penalty, kicked by Maloney to give them the lead 26 – 18.
The Knights were eager to hold on and Matt Hilder was able to get in a final try in the 71st minute which narrowed the margin 26 – 24.
With just two points in it and less than 10 minutes on the clock it was still anyone’s game, but it was Maloney who scored the match winning try two minutes from time, converting his own four-pointer so the Warriors won the battle 32 – 24.
It was a gutsy effort by the Warriors who played on without a number of injured stars including Brent Tate, Brett Seymour and Steve Price.
This week the Knights have another home game this time against the Eels, while the Warriors enjoy a well-earned bye. Can Newcastle make it two in a row? Head to Ladbrokes.com.au to get behind your favourites.