top of page

Warriors hold top NSW Cup side to draw

NZ Warriors NSW Cup rugby league
The NZ Warriors held the NSW Cup-leading Penrith Panthers to a 22-22 draw. PHOTO: NSW CUP

Fullback Taine Tuaupiki has proved a goal-kicking saviour for the NZ Warriors’ New South Wales Cup side for the second week running.

Last week, his high-pressure conversion after the siren sealed a dramatic 26-24 win over the St George Illawarra, and on Saturday he was the man of the moment again in the home side’s Round 8 clash against the unbeaten Penrith Panthers at North Harbour Stadium.

The Warriors led for more than 70 minutes of the contest, only for Penrith to snatch a converted try to go 22-20 ahead with eight minutes to play.

It stayed that way until the dying stages when the home side received a penalty and opted to take the two points on offer, Tuaupiki obliging to seal a 22-22 draw and stop the Panthers securing a seventh straight win.

Tuaupiki’s goal kicking was the difference for the Warriors yet again.

In the win over the Dragons he converted all four of the Warriors tries and added a penalty, while St George Illawarra converted only two of their five tries.

Tuaupiki converted all three of his side’s tries and kicked two penalties against the Panthers but the visitors missed a conversion.

The Warriors made a hot start to the contest, with promoted Jersey Flegg Cup halfback - and ex-Panthers junior - Luke Hanson scoring in the first minute before Penrith hit back 10 minutes later.

Warriors hooker Makaia Tafua went over in the 16th minute and interchange forward Kayliss Fatialofa followed in the 21st minute to extend the Warriors’ advantage to 18-4.

Penrith added a second try through fullback Isaiah Iongi before Tuaupiki slotted a penalty just before halftime to have the Warriors 20-10 ahead at the break.

It was not until the last 20 minutes that Penrith was able to break down the resilient Warriors as they scored through Trent Toelau and Jesse McLean to take a 22-20 lead and threaten to deny the young Warriors side any reward – until Tuaupiki rescued a point.

That lifted the Warriors to ninth on the ladder with seven points.

They had to wait six weeks before savouring their first win of the Jersey Flegg Cup (under-21) season, now the Warriors have nailed their second win in as many games after stunning Penrith 28-22 on Saturday.

The upset result followed the Warriors’ 28-22 success against St George Illawarra in Wollongong last week.

Against Penrith, they conceded the first of two tries to visiting wing Nick Murphy after 11 minutes but then countered with rapid-fire tries to each of their wing Robin Strong and Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mamea for a 12-4 lead.

By halftime it was trimmed to 12-8 through Murphy’s second try and then became a 14-12 deficit early in the second half after a converted Jaxon Edgar try.

It spurred the Warriors to produce what would be the match-winning phase of the contest featuring three players who started the season playing in the club's SG Ball Cup (under-19) side.

Three tries flowed in the space of 13 minutes through interchange forward Alvin Ching-Nee (47th minute), centre Nganaiaiafu Vake (52nd minute) and fullback Motu Pasikala (60th minute). With two of them converted, the Warriors had gone from two points back to lead 28-14.

A late converted Blake Moore try dragged Penrith within eight points but the Warriors were home and safe for another well-earned victory.

After conceding an average of almost 40 points in their first three games of the season, the Warriors’ defence has improved vastly allowing an average of just 20 points in their last four matches.


bottom of page