Newcastle Knights strike late to hand Warriors their first loss of NRL season

The Warriors have fallen agonisingly short of starting the season with back-to-back victories after a late moment of magic by Newcastles Bradman Best.
Having trailed by eight points early in the second half, the Warriors looked to be rolling over the top of the Knights thanks to tries by Adam Pompey and Ken Maumalo.

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Newcastle celebrate their match-winning try against the Warriors.

But with five minutes to go, Best burst through the tackle of Peta Hiku before offloading to winger Hymel Hunt, who grabbed his second try to snatch a 20-16 win.

Played in wet conditions, there was little between the teams who were both coming off victories in round one.

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Warriors halves Chanel Harris-Tavita and Kodi Nikorima kicked much better than they did against the Titans and were able to build pressure for lengthy periods.

But the execution in attack clearly remains a work in progress. They lacked creativity at times to convert that pressure into points, particularly in the first half. Though, the slick left-side shift that set up Maumalo's try showed how effective they can be when they do get it right.

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Adam Pompey carries the ball in his first game of the season for the Warriors.

The discipline was also a concern with Jamayne Taunoa-Brown (crusher tackle) and Jazz Tevaga (leading with the knee) both placed on report, with the pair facing an anxious wait ahead of next week's tough trip to Canberra.

While Addin Fonua-Blake managed to return to field, the star props impact was limited after picking up a calf injury in the first half, which will need to be monitored.

But fellow new recruit Ben Murdoch-Masila was a constant handful and was rewarded for his efforts with a try in the 30th-minute after Jayden Brailey had opened the scoring for the Knights.

The slippery conditions need to be taken in to account, but the Warriors didn't make life easy for themselves in the first half, starting when replacement centre Pompey sent the kick-off out on the full.

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Addin Fonua-Blake was examined for a calf injury when he was replaced but returned in the second half.

Their five first-half errors were only one less than what they made all last week and at times it looked they were just hanging on in defence.

Newcastle took a two-point lead into the break after Tevaga's brain snap and soon found themselves 14-6 in front after a brilliant flick pass by Best to set up Hunt's first try.

But to their credit, the Warriors did well to reverse the momentum and swing possession back their way.

In fact, they went on to dominate most of the second half and were much better at capitalising on their chances.

Skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who ran for more than 200 metres, played a key role in the fightback, delivering the final passes for both Pompey and Maumalo's tries.

The Warriors ended up making 100 fewer tackles than Newcastle but, despite their possession advantage, they just couldn't close out the contest.

When the opportunity arose late in the game for Newcastle, Best stepped up to show them how it's done.

Knights 20 (Hymel Hunt 2, Jayden Brailey, tries; Mitchell Barnett 4 goals) Warriors 16 (Ben Murdoch-Masila, Adam Pompey, Ken Maumalo tries; Kodi Nikorima 2 goals). HT: 8-6.


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