NRL: Signs of hope for New Zealand Warriors despite loss to Parramatta Eels

Shaun Lane of the Eels on offense against the Warriors. Photo / Photo port

Eels 28
Warriors 18

The Warriors couldn’t confirm their victory at home, but there are signs of hope.

They lost 28-18 to the Eels on Friday night, but that score didn’t tell the whole story.

The visitors competed well against one of the heavyweights in the competition, trailing by just four points with 30 minutes to play, before the pressure hit.

Two quick tries in three minutes changed the complexion of the contest and Parramatta looked to go home from there before a late Warriors rally.

The Warriors will wonder what could have been, as they lacked the quality and composure to make the most of several previous opportunities, but the intensity of their effort could not be questioned.

It will give them something to lean on as they look to salvage something from the season.

Fullback Reece Walsh had a strong comeback, showing his continued commitment after the recent dramas, while the field compared well to their highly rated opposites.

The Eels’ surgical kicking game was a point of difference, as the Warriors mostly struggled with their fifth tackle options.

But this display was superior to many others this year and belied their lowly 13th place on the scale.

Winger Ed Kosi returned for the first time since Anzac Day with the Covid-enforced absence of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, while Chanel Harris-Tavita entered the halves for Ronald Volkman (virus)

Deprived of the ball from the start, their defensive effort was impressive.

At one point they pushed back four straight sets on their line and the intensity mirrored what had been seen at Mt Smart two weeks prior, best exemplified when five Warriors converged to drive Viliami Penisini onto the touchline.

Josh Curran and Harris-Tavita also made some impressive close-range saves, but the Eels’ pressure finally showed with Waqa Blake’s 11th-minute try – as the left-side defense got caught .

This try was the result of pressure, but his second was a punch.

The Warriors had territory but Johnson’s flat ball was intercepted by Maika Sivo, with Blake completing a 90-yard counter. It was a bet from the halfback, who was running too close to the defensive line.

However, from that setback, the Warriors’ response was impressive as they stayed in the fight. They dealt with the eels direct approach through the middle and then forced a few mistakes.

Their attack lacked finishing, but no intention, and the reward came in the 32nd minute, with Marcelo Montoya diving into the corner, after a clever tip from Adam Pompey.

The Warriors were ready for the contest, shown with Montoya’s crunchy rib tackle on Clint Gutherson, who halted a dangerous attack and led the back doubled in pain.

A delightful pass from Walsh freed Kosi early in the second half, but that opportunity was lost when Tohu Harris made an unusual error.

Another handling error defused a promising chance and Parramatta made them pay, as Isaiah Papali’i came back from the angle to power through from 10 yards, after the marker defenders were drawn in by the half- dead.

In a close match that looked like a critical moment – ​​and it turned out. Three minutes later Gutherson scored a lucky try, after Montoya slotted a towering Moses bomb and the full-back latched onto a desperate pass.

A raging try from Sivo inflicted further damage before Kosi ran into the corner moments after Walsh was held up on the other flank.

A 78th-minute try from Jack Murchie then added more respectability to a believable defeat.

Eels 28 (Waqa Blake 2, Isaiah Papali’i, Clint Gutherson, Maika Sivo tries; Mitchell Moses 4 blocks)
Warriors 18 (Marcelo Montoya, Ed Kosi, Jack Murchie tries; Shaun Johnson 3 against)
Half time: 10-6

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