Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Warriors smash Eden Park hoodoo

Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors breaks through the Raiders defence during the round nine NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Canberra Raiders. Photo / Getty Images.
Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors breaks through the Raiders defence during the round nine NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Canberra Raiders. Photo / Getty Images.

Warriors 54
Raiders 12

At their sixth attempt the Warriors have smashed their Eden Park hoodoo, with a record win over the Canberra Raiders.

The Warriors scored nine tries - many of them spectacular - and broke 50 point barrier for just the third time in three seasons.

The 42 point margin was their largest win over the ACT side, eclipsing the 50-16 victory in round 25 last year.

The Raiders were awful and have serious issues but they were smashed into submission by a relentless Warriors side.

Sam Tomkins was particularly prominent throughout, scoring a try and providing some skilful assists while Konrad Hurrell ended his difficult week well with a barnstorming display.

Shaun Johnson had a magic night with the boot - converting all nine tries - and grabbed two poachers tries.

The result edges the Warriors' back into the mix, ahead of the match against the Bulldogs in Hamilton next Sunday.

Just as they did in previous Eden Park matches this season the Warriors made the perfect start.

Ben Matulino crossed untouched in the fourth minute, running a great line from a Chad Townsend pass with Tomkins as a decoy.

The momentum continued three minutes later with the man of the moment, Konrad Hurrell, thundering 70 metres to score an impressive individual try. Hurrell smashed through Jason Croker and carried Antony Milford across the line like a gnat on a gnu.

The Raiders were rattled and there was more to come. After another Hurrell bust had given momentum and field position, Johnson snaffled an intercept and sprint away 20 metres to score.

Canberra capitulated against Manly in the previous round, and this was point a minute scenario again.

Ricky Stuart's team looked bereft of ideas out wide, and struggled to make an impact up front. They got back into the game briefly in the first half - Croker exhibiting incredible hang time to out jump Ngani Laumape to a Terry Campese bomb in the 22nd minute - but Laumape made amends eleven minutes later from an impressive set move.

In recent years the Warriors play book has lacked penetrative plays from the scrum base but this was a beauty, Tomkins and Johnson producing swift flat passes to release Laumape as other runners provided decoys.

Any hope of a unlikely Canberra revival in the second spell were extinguished six minutes into the second half. Nothing was going right for the Raiders and an attacking bomb bounced into the arms of Johnson, who ran 80 metres to dot down under the posts.

Straight from the kick-off the Warriors scored one of the tries of their season. Johnson drew in three defenders then released a Matt Gidley style offload to Laumape. The chunky winger tip toed along the sideline then floated a one handed pass inside to Jayson Bukuya, who sent Tomkins away.

The last half hour was a procession and the game started to resemble touch football, though the home side kept their standards high.

Vatuvei, who had an otherwise forgettable match, scored in the 52nd minute and Bukuya and then Vatuvei again finished the scoring off before a Canberra try on the hooter.

Warriors 54 (B. Matulino, K.Hurrell, S.Johnson 2, N. Laumape, M. Vatuvei 2, S. Tomkins, J. Bukuya tries; S. Johnson 9 goals)
Raiders 12 (J. Croker 2 tries, 2 goals).
Halftime: 24-6

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