NRL: New Zealand Warriors cling on for victory after North Queensland Cowboys comeback

Warriors 24
Cowboys 20

There are plenty of sporting cliches used to explain a game that started well and finished not so well. You could take your pick of which you’d choose to apply to the Warriors’ 24-20 win over the Cowboys.

Beneath the palm trees at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford, the Warriors got off to a phenomenal start – racing the clock with 18 points in 20 minutes.

Attacking the middle with their forwards before launching attacks through the backline, the speed in the Warriors play was causing plenty of problems for the Cowboys, with Reece Walsh, Kodi Nikorima and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck starring in the open field.

Walsh in particular made his mark in just his second game with the club. Wearing the No 6 jersey, Walsh wasn’t afraid to play what was in front of him and at times take risks, while flashing his kicking game and playmaking ability. While he has been recruited to replace Tuivasa-Sheck at fullback in 2022, expect to see plenty more of the young gun in the halves while Chanel Harris-Tavita continues to recover from injury.

The Warriors opened the scoring through Nikorima, who split the defence open with a strong solo effort from 20m out. He was soon followed over by Rocco Berry and Ben Murdoch-Masila to give the Warriors an impressive deserved lead.

The Cowboys hit back late in the half when hooker Reece Robson took advantage of some poor defence from Jazz Tevaga, who bit on a huge dummy from the Cowboys’ rake, who stepped inside his opposite and scurried away to score.

The Warriors hit back again on the stroke of halftime through Adam Pompey, which ultimately proved to be an important try.

While the Warriors were impressive in the first half, errors in the second allowed the Cowboys to stay in the game and eventually they found the weak spot in the Warriors defence – the right edge defence comprised of rookie duo Berry and Edward Kosi.

Once they found it, they hit it hard and often. If the Cowboys got within striking distance, you could guarantee which side they would be attacking through.

Scoring twice through winger Murray Taulagi and adding another through five-eighth Scott Drinkwater, the Cowboys were on the verge of a second comeback win.

But while the Cowboys drew within four points, errors found a way to infect their performance late in the piece as well and the Warriors held on for the two competition points.

The Warriors were held scoreless in the second half, and it was the Pompey try on the stroke of halftime that proved to be the match-winner.

The win sees the Warriors improve their record to 4-4, and lifts them inside the top eight after starting the round 12th on the ladder.

Warriors 24 (Kodi Nikorima, Rocco Berry, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Adam Pompey tries; Nikorima 3 cons, pen)
Cowboys 20 (Murray Taulagi 2, Reece Robson, Scott Drinkwater tries; Valentine Holmes 2 cons)
HT: 24-4

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