Cronulla Sharks 18
Rookie fullback Glen Fisiiahi grabbed a brace of tries in Taupo today as the New Zealand Warriors recorded their first win of the National Rugby League season.
The 26-18 victory over Cronulla ended a three-match losing start and it came as relief to both coach Ivan Cleary and his players.
"It's just good to get the first one in," Cleary said.
"It's a bit like a cricketer who is trying to get off the mark. Everyone likes their first run, so it's the same sort of feeling."
Cleary said the Warriors still had a long way to go, "but it just gives everyone a shot in the arm".
Fisiiahi's double strike included a super solo effort early in the second half.
Having had a tough time under the high ball on the wing against Parramatta in round one his only other NRL appearance, he was also secure when the kicks came his way.
Fisiiahi's inclusion ahead of the experienced Lance Hohaia was one of a number of changes Cleary made for the match.
Another was moving Feleti Mateo to five-eighth.
While Mateo had a mixed match, it was his great offload that helped to set up the Warriors' match-clinching final try.
"Feleti was giving me a heart attack, but in the end he backed himself," Cleary said.
"Those sort of players are certainly handy in a game like today's."
Cronulla's decision to move what was a home match to Owen Delany Stadium was rewarded with a good crowd of 14,645 on a beautifully sunny day, with rugby great Sir Colin Meads among the spectators.
The Warriors made a great start, Fisiiahi scoring after just three minutes.
An offload by skipper Simon Mannering sent winger Bill Tupou away and Tupou's in-pass was juggled by Fisiiahi before he crossed.
With Cronulla fullback Nathan Gardner showing his counterattacking abilities, the Sharks hit back through Kiwi second rower Jeremy Smith.
Gardner had already given a warning about his running ability before he returned a kick 40 metres to set Cronulla on a roll that Smith ended by dotting down by the posts.
A James Maloney penalty edged the Warriors in front 8-6, but the Sharks again struck back.
Halfback Wade Graham went through some tentative defence to touch down and help his side to a 12-8 halftime lead.
Early in the second half, Fisiiahi brought the crowd alive with his speed and elusiveness.
From a scrum on the Sharks' 30m line, the 20-year-old stepped his marker and scored without a hand on him.
Maloney's conversion nudged the Warriors back in front, before the halfback, who produced some solid defence during the match, scooted over himself.
Winger Krisnan Inu then finished off a thrilling attack for the Warriors, which was started by Mateo's offload to Fisiiahi.
The Sharks had the final word, winger John Williams dotting down with six minutes to go.
Cronulla were backing up from wins over premiers St George Illawarra and Penrith, and coach Shane Flanagan said they paid for their errors against a desperate side.
"We weren't that good," he said.
"We were a little bit off and when you're a little bit off you know the result.
"They had to win. They were desperate and they played that way."
NZ Warriors 26 (G Fisiiahi 2 K Inu J Maloney tries J Maloney 5 goals) bt Cronulla 18 (W Graham J Smith J Williams tries J Williams 3 goals) at Owen Delaney Park. Referee: Gavin Badger, Brett Suttor. Crowd: 14,645.