Warriors stage upset win against Broncos - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors stage upset win against Broncos

09/08/2008 09:20:31 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett called for better protection of kickers in the NRL after his side's top four chances dropped considerably with Saturday night's 16-12 loss against the New Zealand Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium.

The Broncos mentor was angry officials failed to punish what he considered late hits on his kickers during a thrilling game in Auckland, in particular against captain and star five-eighth Darren Lockyer.

"Everybody agreed at the (coaches) conference that if contact was made with the kicker after he kicked the ball, you know, it wasn't going to be tolerated," Bennett said.

"He (Lockyer) is one of the stars of our game and (halfback) Peter Wallace.

"It really frustrates me because everybody says that is what we are going to do.

"Everybody knows the rule and you turn up here tonight and it doesn't happen."

Brisbane remained in fifth place on the ladder despite the loss, but will now face a difficult challenge in trying to claim a spot in the top four for the finals with just four rounds of the regular season remaining after Monday.

The Warriors, meanwhile, temporarily claimed a place in the NRL top eight after ending Brisbane's three-game winning streak, putting their own finals aspirations back on track after an error-riddled loss to South Sydney last week.

Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon scored a wonderful try in his first game back from knee surgery to give the Warriors a 10-8 halftime lead, with the home side never headed from that point.

Penrith, Newcastle, the Gold Coast and Canberra will all have a chance to jump back over the Warriors on the ladder in the coming days.

But Saturday night's win will at least keep the New Zealand club in touch with their finals rivals with four rounds of the regular season remaining.

Warriors captain Steve Price said the match was tough, but his team was playing to keep their finals hopes alive.

"It is a logjam pretty much from fifth spot right through to 13th and you are playing for your survival," Price said.

"The only time when they scored was when we let ourselves down, you know through either a mistake or a penalty, and when you are playing against a side like that you have got to sort of try and clean everything up."

Playing in front a crowd of about 13,000, the Broncos opened the scoring with a Corey Parker penalty goal in the ninth minute before the Warriors went ahead 4-2 when interchange forward Ben Matulino barged over for his first NRL try.

Brisbane regained the lead when Darren Lockyer sent prop Ben Hannant over for a try in 32nd minute.

But just when the visitors looked set to go into the break 8-4 ahead, the Warriors hit back in the 39th minute.

Halfback Nathan Fien showed great creativity and awareness to kick ahead from the scrum base 35 metres out with a flying McKinnon timing his run perfectly to score in his first game back from a six-month knee injury layoff.

The Warriors continued their surge in the second half, going on the attack after an inspirational 50-metre run from Jerome Ropati.

They increased their lead to 14-8 soon after when five-eighth Michael Witt touched down after winger Manu Vatuvei batted back another Fien kick.

Witt extended the lead to eight points with a penalty goal in the 66th minute.

But the Broncos reduced that to four almost immediately when winger Denan Kemp scrambled across the line after a Peter Wallace kick.

The Warriors, though, held on in a nail-biting finish, although Bennett said he was happy with the effort of his team.

"We have won three out of four in the last month. It is a tough comp and everybody is capable of leading," he said.

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