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NZ Warriors win back-to-back back at home

The NZ Warriors have gone back-to-back at home after outclassing the Knights 20-12 at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart on Easter Sunday.

Despite losing five-eighth Luke Metcalf in the early stages of the match, the Warriors did not skip a beat in attack, running in two early tries to lead for the majority of the 80 minutes. 

With Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returning to the No 1 role for the first time since 2021, the 30-year-old could give Andrew Webster a new selection headache, showcasing his speed and footwork in a 283-run metre and seven tackle break performance. 

The Warriors suffered an early blow with Metcalf leaving the field with in just the 10th minute, but the home side showed great resilience, scoring just six minutes later when Shaun Johnson showed some slick hands to send Jackson Ford over from close range.

The home side were in again just three minutes later when Wayde Egan exploded out of dummy half before finding Metcalf's replacement, Chanel Harris-Tavita in support. 

Shaun Johnson and Chanel Harris-Tavita
Shaun Johnson and Chanel Harris-Tavita celebrate a Warriors try. PHOTO: NRL

Star forward Tyson Frizell steadied the ship for the Knights in the 37th minute when he picked up a Tyson Gamble grubber and carried the ball over the line to reduce the deficit 12-6 at the break. 

The Warriors exploded out of the blocks in the second half and extended their lead with Harris-Tavita punting a cross field kick for Marcelo Montoya to leap out for and score. Johnson's conversion made it 18-6.

A Jayden Brailey offside penalty handed the Warriors a chance to slot a penalty goal and extend their lead 20-6 with less than nine minutes to play. 

Adam O'Brien's side refused to lie down and came up with a try through Best off a perfectly weighted grubber from Kalyn Ponga to make it 20-12 but that's as far as the visitors would come to reducing the deficit.

"It was a grind, I thought we scrambled really well off the back of some errors and line breaks but we found a way to defend it. If you concede one try each half, you are going to go a long way and win a lot of games so I was happy with how we dug in deep," said Warriors coach Andrew Webster.

"I think Roger learned plenty tonight. He feels like the NRL is a different beast since he left it and he hasn't done a lot of reps at fullback so I was proud. Such a cool thing to have a guy whose played a lot of fullback in his career and he's nailing his role at centre and then he comes in at fullback and he's reliable."

The Warriors head to Sydney for the first time for 2024 on Saturday (kick-off 5pm NZ Time) to face the South Sydney Rabbitohs, who will be looking to back up their first win of the season in Round 4.

NZ Warriors 20 (Jackson Ford, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Marcelo Montoya tries; Shaun Johnson 3 con, pen) Newcastle Knights 12 (Tyson Frizell, Bradman Best tries; Kalyn Ponga 2 con). HT: 12-6


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