NRL: Warriors make it four in a row

By Michael Brown

Elijah Taylor of the Warriors is congratulated by his team after scoring a try during the round 14 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.
Elijah Taylor of the Warriors is congratulated by his team after scoring a try during the round 14 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.

Roosters 12
Warriors 23

It might now be safe to say the Warriors are back.

Tonight they won their fourth game in a row and the top eight is becoming more of a realistic goal each week. It was the first time they have won four straight since 2011 - and we all know what they did that year - and they did it against one of the best sides in the competition. Away from home.

They did it on the back of a superb defensive effort. They conceded two tries in three minutes late in the first half but otherwise held their line despite coming under massive pressure from a Roosters outfit who had won six of their last seven and who have legitimate designs on the title in 2013.

Coach Matt Elliott has been preaching about attitude and mindset and they delivered in the same way they did last weekend in the 18-16 defeat of Manly. They also brought aggression, poise and desperation as they kept the Roosters scoreless in the second spell.

It was a rigorous examination of their recent progress, given the home side came into the match in third and with the league's best defensive record. It was also a match that took on extra importance considering they have the bye next week and they can now look forward to the prospect of emerging from the bye sitting midtable.

That was not a position they dared contemplate four weeks ago.

Even though the Warriors have some serious momentum, the bye has probably come at the right time with a number of battered bodies. Shaun Johnson gave up the goalkicking duties to Feleti Mateo with what looked to be a leg injury and he was limping badly by the end - although it didn't stop him earlier running down Michael Jennings who seemed destined to score a runaway try - and Manu Vatuvei also pulled up badly favouring a hamstring after scoring his own runaway late in the game.

Johnson played a good hand in the Warriors' first two tries - putting Elijah Taylor into a big hole in the fourth minute and then shifting the ball quickly for Ngani Laumape to score in the corner - and his chase of Jennings summed up the side's defensive effort.

His teammates backed it up by surviving for the remainder of the set and it's not something they would have done earlier in the season. They scrambled superbly well at times and showed how far the side have come in the last month since the humiliating defeat to Penrith.

The Warriors played one of their best halves for some time in the opening spell (they completed 86 per cent of their sets) but still found themselves trailing at the break after conceding two tries in the final four minutes of the half after firstly Anthony Minichiello and then Sonny Bill Williams crossed.

The game was evenly poised in the opening exchanges of the second half until Glen Fisiiahi ran 80m as the Warriors defused a Roosters bomb. He then backed it up with a superb strip of Shaun Kenny-Dowall as the Kiwis centre went to put the ball down.

When Vatuvei trapped a grubber and then ran 90m to score, the result was virtually secured. Johnson made sure of it firstly with a penalty in front of the posts and then a field goal.

It was a good way for Elliott to make his 250th game as an NRL coach. More importantly, it was a good way for the Warriors to maintain momentum.

Roosters 12 (Anthony Minichiello, Sonny Bill Williams tries; James Maloney 2 gls) Warriors 23 (Elijah Taylor, Ngani Laumape, Glen Fisiiahi, Manu Vatuvei tries; Feleti Mateo 2 gls, Shaun Johnson gl, Johnson fg). HT: 12-10.

- APNZ

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