Nines: Two from two for Warriors

By Michael Brown

Glen Fisiiahi of the Warriors makes a break during the match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Canberra Raiders. Photo / Getty Images.
Glen Fisiiahi of the Warriors makes a break during the match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Canberra Raiders. Photo / Getty Images.

The Warriors went into the Auckland Nines as tournament favourites and lived up to that billing on the first day with two convincing wins to be one of only three teams to record perfect winning records.

The Warriors brushed aside the Raiders 25-14 in their first outing and then breezed past the Sea Eagles 27-4 in impressive fashion.

Shaun Johnson and Sam Tomkins stood out but they weren't the only Warriors to impress as they adopted an attacking gameplan and looked to spread the ball from side to side.

A lot of teams adopted a fairly structured approach, largely playing 13-a-side football with nine players. It's too early to say what gameplan will prevail because defence will become more important as the tournament heads into day two tomorrow.

But few teams attacked with as much intent as the Warriors and they will hope to head into the quarter-finals with a third win when they take on the Cowboys in their last pool game tomorrow.

"I think everyone's hungry," said Johnson, who is captaining the Warriors for the tournament. "No one's carrying anyone. Everyone's working, everyone's contributing, so that's the pleasing thing, especially about that last performance there. That was our whole team defence and you could see that the team stood up.

"No one came into this comp knowing what was going to happen and it's been that the best team that adapts on the run can often win. We've done that today, kept an open mind and like I said our big boys stood up in defence and got us that go forward to start our sets as well."

The Eels also emerged with a perfect winning record, beating the Roosters (18-11) and the Bulldogs (23-6), which was totally unexpected given they were one of the favourites before the tournament for the wooden spoon.

The Panthers were the only other team to win both games, beating an under-strength Storm 14-11 and then an ordinary Dragons outfit 23-8.

As predicted, Blue Pool is the most competitive and all four teams - Knights, Sharks, Titans, Tigers - ended the day with a one win, one loss record. The top two teams from the four pools progress to the quarter-finals, when it will be knockout football.

The tournament has been a success so far on and off the field and there were no reports of any major off-field incidents.

One of the biggest cheers of the day was reserved for 42-year-old Brad Fittler, who collected an intercept against the Broncos from 60m out and managed to hold off the cover defence to score.

Blue Pool results:
Sharks 15 Knights 12
Titans 22 Tigers 7
Tigers 21 Sharks 17
Knights 25 Titans 14

Green Pool results:
Eels 18 Roosters 11
Broncos 20 Bulldogs 4
Roosters 14 Broncos 7
Eels 23 Bulldogs 6

Yellow Pool results:
Warriors 25 Raiders 14
Sea Eagles 17 Cowboys 8
Warriors 27 Sea Eagles 4
Cowboys 24 Raiders 0

Red Pool results:
Panthers 14 Storm 11
Rabbitohs 23 Dragons 4
Storm 18 Rabbitohs 12
Panthers 23 Dragons 8

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 21 Aug 2014 01:03:23 Processing Time: 849ms