As it happened: Eels sink Warriors in Nines grand final

New Zealand Warriors Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Johnson congratulates the Parramatta Eels in the Final of the NRL Nines at Eden Park. Photo / Brett Phibbs.
New Zealand Warriors Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Shaun Johnson congratulates the Parramatta Eels in the Final of the NRL Nines at Eden Park. Photo / Brett Phibbs.

Welcome to day two of the Herald's live update coverage of the 2016 NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park.

NRL Nines stats and standings

7.10pm: Warriors fail at final hurdle

The Warriors have failed at the final hurdle in the Auckland Nines, beaten 22-4 by the Parramatta Eels in the decider.

Considering the occasion, it was an awful performance.

The Auckland side had done well to make the final - after coming close to being eliminated by the Broncos - but got major stage fright in the decider.

The Warriors were their own worst enemies, coming up with poor errors and dumb options which constantly saw them trying to fight their way out of their own territory.

Parramatta was superb, almost flawless, but also benefited from the bounce of the ball and the generosity of their opponents.

The Warriors suffered a nightmare start, being caught out by a towering midfield bomb from the Eels.

The home side let it bounce - always a cardinal sin in league - and Bevan French ran through to dot down in the bonus zone.

By the fifth minute the Eels had scored their second try, after they created space down the left hand side for Semi Radrada.

The Warriors needed to respond, and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck stepped his way through to dot down near the posts. However Johnson missed the conversion, and the Warriors faced a steep 11-4 halftime deficit.

They never looked likely in the second half, and two more Eels' tries gave an embarrassing look to the scoreline.


6.11pm Team lists for final confirmed

The team lists are in for the upcoming NRL Nines final between the Warriors and Parramatta Eels:

NZ Warriors: 2. Ryan Hoffman 4. Blake Ashford 5. Solomone Kata 7. Shaun Johnson 10. Konrad Burrell 11. Ben Matulino 13. Jonathan Wright 14. Jeff Robson 15. Sam Lisone Interchange: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 3. Jacob Lillian 6. Tuimasola Lolohea 9. Henare Wells 16. Nathaniel Roache

Parramatta Eels: 1. Corey Norman 2. Semi Radradra 3. Vai Toutai 6. Luke Kelly 8. Junior Paulo 9. Cameron King 12. David Gower 13. Tepai Moeroa 14. Bevan French Interchange: 7. Mitch Cornish 10. Peni Terepo 16. Ryan Morgan 17. Kelepi Tanginoa 18. Cody Nelson

6.08pm Kiwi Ferns claim series win over Jillaroos

The New Zealand women's Kiwi Ferns clinched a two-one series win over the Australian Jillaroos with a dominant 21-7 victory in the third and deciding clash.

6.25pm: Warriors roar into final

The Warriors are into the final of the Auckland Nines, after an impressive 22-4 victory over the Raiders.

It's the first time they have reached the decider at the tournament, after making the last four in 2014 and the quarter finals last year.

The home side made their most confident start of the tournament, and spent much of the early stanza in Titans territory.

That pressure paid off, as Tui Lolohea engineered a gap for Jeff Robson, with the former Cronulla halfback crossing near the posts.

Another former Shark Johnathan Wright increased their advantage two minutes later, grabbing an intercept to sprint away.

Solomone Kata scored the try of the match just before halftime, busting through from near halfway and showing impressive pace to dot down near the posts.

However former Warriors junior Agnatius Paasi gave the Titans some hope, starting and finishing an impressive move to score a four pointer seconds before the interval.

Paasi was lucky to be on the field though, after a shoulder charge early in the first half.

The Warriors showed impressive defence throughout the second half, and put the icing on their win with a late Tui Lolohea try.

The Warriors will face Parramatta in the final which will be live blogged by the Herald.

- Michael Burgess at Eden Park


5.06pm Parramatta advance to Nines final

Shaun Johnson in action. Photo / Greg Bowker
Shaun Johnson in action. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Parramatta Eels are through to their first Nines final after dispatching an efficient Melbourne Storm side 17-8 in the first semifinal.

Both teams were fairly conservative with the ball through the opening period and the Eels were unlucky not to capitalise when wing Bevan French found space on the edge only to have the ball knocked out of his hands by Ben Hampton.

The Storm looked to have scored first points after some sustained pressure on the Eels line resulted in big Tohu Harris crashing over, but he was held up in a try-saving tackle from Ryan Morgan.

The blue and gold got things rolling on their next visit downtown, with French grounding a try just before the dead ball line for a 4-0 lead.

The Storm then levelled the scores in timely fashion when quick hands from Hampton put Richie Kennar away to cross out wide a minute before the break.

Two minutes into the second-half the Storm pushed ahead, with Harris showing plenty of pace to dummy his way through a two-on-one situation on the right wing and race away to score.

The Eels weren't going to lie down however, and quickly bounced back with French speeding almost 90 metres to score in the bonus zone to put them ahead 11-8 with four minutes remaining.

With two minutes to go the Eels put the throttle down and added an overlap try to Semi Radradra with the valuable conversion sealing an impressive victory.

4.28pm Kiwi Ferns bounce back against Jillaroos

The New Zealand women's Kiwi Ferns have leveled their transtasman series against the Australian Jillaroos with a gutsy and entertaining 9-0 win to set up what should be a thrilling decider at 5.45pm.

Up next, the Parramatta Eels take on Melbourne Storm in the first semifinal match at 4.40pm.

3.56pm Warriors' win over Raiders "counts for nothing", says Shaun Johnson

Warriors captain Shaun Johnson says their 16-8 quarterfinal win over Canberra will mean nothing if they don't go on with the job through the remainder of the NRL Auckland Nines.

Johnson was again at the forefront of the Warriors attack playing a hand in each of their first three tries to Jonathan Wright and Solomone Kata (2), but the No7 says they won't have achieved anything if they fail to maintain their momentum.

"We've won a couple of games today but again, it counts for nothing if we don't go out there and do it this afternoon," said Johnson.

"It's always pleasing when you stick to your game plan and it works. It's a pretty simple one but we've found it to be quite effective. We've just got to do the same again soon.

"We're just taking it one game at a time, we're not getting ahead of ourselves."

The Warriors' play has improved markedly on their patchy day one form although they have let themselves down when receiving kick-offs with bodies failing to claim possession on the full.

"There's nine people to cover the entire field so there's going to be a bit of space. Obviously we'd like to catch them on the full but it's a bit windy out there," said Johnson.

Johnson took time to compliment the work of the younger members of the team, with Kata, Tui Lolohea and Ken Maumalo all contributing with some good touches.

"They're going really well and doing everything we expect them to do. It's just cool to see them giving it a crack."


3.30: Warriors surge into semi final

The Warriors are into the semi-finals of the Auckland Nines, after a composed 16-8 victory over the Raiders.

Though they still haven't reached the heights they hit in the 2014 event, it was their most impressive performance of the weekend.

They led 12-0 at halftime - and extended that to 16-0 early in the second half - before they got a little untidy.

The Auckland side have yet to find the right recipe between structure and lateral play but at least they made a good start to this match.

For the first time in the tournament, the Warriors opened the scoring, with Johnathan Wright crossing in the fourth minute, after Roger Tuivasa-Sheck had provided the momentum with a couple of stirring runs.

Two tries in three minutes from Solomone Kata then gave the home side some impetus. Kata has always thrived in the Nines format and showed great strength to score his first, powering over near the corner flag. His second came after good lead up play from Ryan Hoffman and Charlie Gubb.

The Warriors had the ascendancy, and a fourth try to Henare Wells early in the second half made a Raiders' comeback unlikely, though the Canberra side crossed twice in the last four minutes to make a game of it.

The Warriors will play either the Titans or the Sea Eagles in the semi-finals.

The Warriors make their way out onto the field for the semi-final. Photo / Brett Phibbs.
The Warriors make their way out onto the field for the semi-final. Photo / Brett Phibbs.

3.20pm The Warriors extend their lead with a second first-half try to Solomone Kata


3.15pm The Eden Park crowd erupts as Shaun Johnson's long pass finds Jonathan Wright for their opening try in their quarterfinal against the Canberra Raiders.


2.51pm Melbourne Storm send Cowboys packing 14-6

The North Queensland Cowboys enjoyed a wealth of possession and territory in the opening three minutes but Melbourne Storm's defence was up to the task.

Storm and Kiwis test forward Tohu Harris sparked an attacking raid from inside their own half but it came unstuck to gift the Cowboys another chance. Harris then conceded a penalty but Melbourne maintained their composure to keep their line intact.

Both teams had further chances but the match remained scoreless until the eighth minute, when Richard Kennar scored from close range and Cameron Munster converted to give Melbourne a 6-0 lead at the break.

The Cowboys fell further behind in the opening stages of the second-half when a wild pass from Lachlan Coote was intercepted by Munster, who threw a long ball out to a flying Curtis Scott for a thrilling long-range try.

After a couple of failed attacking raids the Cowboys finally got on the board when Rory Kostjasyn dummied through the line and beat a final defender to help his side claw their way back within five points with four left on the clock.

Munster then embarked on a jinking run, beating two defenders before twisting his right leg awkwardly in a tackle before limping off the park.

With a minute remaining the Cowboys spread the ball on their own goal line but were called back for a forward pass to Jason Taumalolo, and from the handover the Storm sealed victory with a try to Ben Hampton.

The Storm will now advance to a semifinal clash against the Parramatta Eels in a re-match, of sorts, of the 2009 NRL grand final.

2.33pm Parramatta Eels advance to semifinals

Parramatta are the first team through to the semi finals of the Auckland Nines, after a close 12-8 win over the Newcastle Knights.

The Knights were fortunate to make the knockout stages - they didn't really impress in the pool stages - but put up a good fight against the strong Eels side.

Parramatta led 12-0 at halftime but the Knights bounced back with two tries in the first five minutes of the second half.

But the Eels were good enough to hang on to their advantage, and book a last four clash with either Storm or the Cowboys.

Earlier, in the final pool matches the Titans secured their passage with a 24-12 win over the Dragons while the Raiders just did enough against the Sharks to squeeze through on points differential.

Canberra won 18-6 over the Sydney side, which meant that both teams were tied on four points but the Raiders had a superior points differential.

2.03pm Quarterfinal match-ups determined

The Parramatta Eels are currently playing the Newcastle Knights in the opening quarterfinal of the afternoon.

The second quarterfinal will see Melbourne Storm take on the North Queensland Cowboys at 2.20pm.

The Warriors will then continue their campaign with their all-important match against the Canberra Raiders from 3.05pm, and the Manly Sea Eagles will play the Gold Coast Titans at 3.30pm.

1.47pm Warriors coach Andrew McFadden pleased with gritty win over Broncos

Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden was a relieved man following his side's thrilling 15-8 win over the Brisbane Broncos in their final pool game of the NRL Auckland Nines.

McFadden acknowledged it took something special from halfback and captain Shaun Johnson to produce the match-winning try at the death, but was pleased with how his entire squad reacted in a tight pressure situation.

"It took a whole tough team effort to get us home," said McFadden.

"Obviously Shaun, in the big moment he had to come up with something and it was pretty pleasing, but I was most pleased with the toughness we had to endure to get the result. It was a hard game."

Mcfadden confirmed the Warriors took the field knowing they had to win or the red hot tournament favourites would have missed the quarterfinals.

"The players know what the occasion is and they want to do well," he said. "There's a lot of pressure on us and not much on any other team so that has an impact, but the good part is that in that moment today we came up with something."

Looking ahead to what could be three more finals games this afternoon, McFadden said it was important the Warriors remain relaxed before their next match.

"We've got to switch the boys off, they have to relax, and then we'll build them up again."

Shaun Johnson after scoring the winning try. Photo / Brett Phibbs.
Shaun Johnson after scoring the winning try. Photo / Brett Phibbs.

Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden touches on the pressures on his team ahead of the quarterfinals:



1.10pm Game 21, Warriors 15 - Broncos 8

The Warriors are through to the quarter finals of the Auckland Nines - but only by the skin of their teeth.

The home side were one minute from being knocked out before some Shaun Johnson magic rescued the team for a 15-8 victory over Brisbane.

Like we have seen so many times before, Johnson created something from nothing, sidestepping his way past three Broncos defenders for a brilliant try.

But his intervention masked another sub par performance from the home side.

They made a poor start, with the Broncos' Jaymayne Isaako crossing in the third minute after piercing the Warriors defence down the left edge.

After being denied one try - with the final pass ruled forward after a 80m Tui Lolohea break - the Warriors levelled the scores through the impressive Nathaniel Roache, who darted over from dummy half.

But another Warriors' error gifted the Broncos possession and Carlin Anderson strolled over near the posts to give the Queenslanders a halftime lead.

In the second half Konrad Hurrell failed to pass to an unmarked team mate to blew one opportunity then Shaun Johnson tried a low percentage chip as the heat came on.

The scores were locked 8-8 - and the Warriors were on their way out - before Johnson made his move. But they will have to improve markedly to make an impact on the tournament from here.

12.20pm Game 20 Rangitoto Pool - Cowboys 15, Panthers 11

Lock in another quarterfinal matchup - the Melbourne Storm will be taking on the North Queensland Cowboys.

The Cowboys qualified top of the Rangitoto Pool after taking down the Panthers 15-11.

Ben Garcia opened the scoring in the corner for the Panthers, but Gavin Cooper dotted down in the the opposite corner of the field with his fourth try of the tournament, giving the Cowboys a 6-4 lead.

Ethan Lowe crossed for North Queensland a minute later before Coen Hess followed just before the break to give the Cowboys a solid 15-6 advantage.

Bryce Cartwright scored a stunning second half try for Penrith but a simple missed conversion saw the score remain at 15-11, a scoreline which stayed static until the final hooter as the Cowboys progressed and the Panthers were bundled out.

11.50am Game 19 Rangitoto Pool - Knights 21 Tigers 16

The Eels' opponents in the quarterfinals will be the Newcastle Knights who booked their spot with a 21-16 victory over the Wests Tigers.

Tries to Robbie Rochow and Danny Levi gave the Knights taking a 11-4 halftime lead, with the Tigers on the board through a bizarre Josh Addo-Carr effort where he was ruled to be not held - getting up and scampering away to dot down. Although the Tigers reduced the gap to just a single point, star winger Akuila Uate put the Knights back out to a comfortable buffer.

A Jake Mamo try from an awkwardly-bouncing kick sealed the deal, with Addo-Carr's second try of the game only being a consolation as the Knights went through and the Tigers were eliminated.

11.20am Game 18 Waiheke Pool - Eels 24 Rabbitohs 11

The defending champions have been bundled out of the NRL Auckland Nines.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs needed to beat the Parramatta Eels to advance to the quarterfinals, but were well off the pace in a 24-11 defeat.

Semi Radradra scored from the kick-off and on the buzzer to book-end the win which also saw the Eels score through Corey Norman and a superb chip-and-chase by the speedy Bevan French.

Bryson Goodwin and Cameron McInnes scored for the Rabbitohs.

The Eels now progress top of the Waiheke Pool, joining the Storm in making it out of the pool and into the quarterfinals.



10.57am Game 17 Waiheke Group - Roosters 26-7 Storm

Melbourne Storm started well with Blake Green kicking a 40/20 before they earned a repeat set with a grubber to the ingoal.

The Roosters held on however and then cut loose with boom fullback Latrell Mitchell burning 90 metres down the touch line to score in the bonus zone to help them to an early 7-0 lead after four minutes.

The Roosters maintained the upper hand throughout the remainder of the half but Melbourne dug in and prevented further points.

The second-half began with the Roosters failing to clean up a kick from Green, with Melbourne's Richard Kennar swooping to score a bonus zone try which was duly converted.

But the Roosters hit back with four quick tries, with the first coming from what looked like a forward pass from Shaun Kenny Dowall to send Joseph Manu in to the right corner.

They were in again soon after when Vincent Leuluai shrugged off three defenders to plant the ball down, and capped a dominant performance with Connor Watson and Nat Butcher adding their names to the score sheet.

The match ended with a bit of push and shove over the sideline after one of the Storm players threw the football at young Latrell Mitchell's head.

The Roosters redeemed themselves with the win but their tournament has come to an end, while the Storm can now concentrate on bouncing back in the quarterfinals.

10.30am

Later this afternoon the trantasman women's series continues with the Kiwi Ferns looking to bounce back following their day one defeat when they play the final two matches at 4.05pm and 5.45pm.

And the Legends charity goal-kicking contest will be essential viewing just prior to the tournament final, with league immortal Andrew Johns, superboot Darryl Halligan and North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston competing against former All Black and Blues great Carlos Spencer.

Strap yourselves in for another day of Nines action!

Waiheke Pool

Storm 4 competition points (+16 points differential), Rabbitohs 2 (-5), Eels 2 (-7), Roosters 0 (-4)

The action begins at 10.35am with the Roosters taking on the unbeaten Melbourne Storm, who have already booked themselves a quarterfinal berth and are the only team in the Waiheke pool with a positive points differential.

The winner of the Rabbitohs-Eels clash will advance to the quarterfinals, but in the unlikely event of a draw, South Sydney would progress on differential.

Hunua Pool

Sea Eagles 4 competition points (+6 points differential), Warriors 2 (+23), Bulldogs 2 (-24), Broncos 0 (-5)

It will be a nervous wait for Warriors fans before their team meets the winless Brisbane Broncos at 12.40pm, after beating the Bulldogs and losing to Manly yesterday.

Their Hunua pool wide remains wide open with each side still able to advance beyond group play, although Manly are sitting pretty after twin victories over the Broncos and Warriors.

Despite the host team's patchy form, points differential remains in their favour and even a loss to Brisbane would not rule the Warriors out of finals contention, and they could even leapfrog Manly into top spot if results fall their way.

Rangitoto Pool

Panthers 2 (+15), Cowboys 2 (+15), Knights 2 (-15), Wests Tigers 2 (-15)

The Rangitoto pool is all locked up with the Cowboys, Panthers, Knights and Wests Tigers all still in the running and points differential, make that points scored, will only matter if any of the remaining pool matches finish in a draw.

Piha Pool

Sharks 4 (+20), Titans 2 (zero), Raiders 2 (-3), Dragons 0 (-17)

Cronulla have all but confirmed their place in the quarterfinals following twin victories over the Titans and Dragons, and it would take a huge change on fortune to see them bow out considering they have a +20 points differential.

The Dragons need to beat the Titans to overturn their -17 points differential and would hope the Sharks thrash the Canberra to give them a sniff, while the Raiders and Titans are within touching distance of the finals.

- NZ Herald

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