New Zealand Warriors are not known for starting the season strongly, but they discarded that reputation today with a convincing 32-20 victory that was played as part of an NRL double header at the new Perth Stadium in the West Australian capital.
The Warriors gave an assured performance, with newly recruited former Wigan star Blake Green combining well with former Golden Boot winner Shaun Johnson at halfback and Tohu Harris, recruited from Melbourne Storm in the off-season, also showing up well.
The Rabbitohs had Greg Inglis back in the side playing at centre, but the superstar didn’t get many opportunities to shine, and he may well be moved to fullback in future after Alex Johnston, normally a winger, had a disappointing game.
The Rabbitohs took the lead on ten minutes with a converted try by Cody Walker, but the Warriors equalised through Isaiah Papali’i five minutes later, and then tookthe lead on 17 minutes through David Fusitu’a from a great pass by Harris.
Richard Kennar replied for South Sydney and the sides were level again at 10-10.
But in the final ten minutes of the half, the Warriors took a grip on the game, with Sam Lisone’s effort surviving a bunker examination for a possible obstruction and Johnson setting up Fusitu’a for a try in the corner just before the interval for a 20-10 lead.
That lead was extended to 20 points after eleven minutes of the second half with tries to Ken Maumalo and Solomone Kata.
Kennar and Walker both scored again as the Rabbitohs fought back, with Johnson adding a penalty for the Warriors to make it 20-32 at the final hooter.
Rabbitohs: 1 Alex Johnston, 2 Richard Kennar, 3 Dane Gagai, 4 Greg Inglis, 5 Robert Jennings, 6 Cody Walker, 7 Adam Reynolds, 8 Thomas Burgess, 9 Damien Cook, 10 Mark Nicholls, 11 John Sutton, 12 Angus Crichton, 13 Sam Burgess; Interchange: 14 Cameron Murray, 20 Hymel Hunt, 16 George Burgess, 17 Junior Tatola
Tries: Walker 2, Kennar 2; Goals: Reynolds 2
Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2 David Fusitu’a, 3 Peta Hiku, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Blake Green, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 James Gavet, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Adam Blair, 11 Isaiah Papali’i, 12 Tohu Harris, 13 Ligi Sao; Interchange: 14 Sam Cook, 15 Leivaha Pulu, 16 Sam Lisone, 17 Bunty Afoa
Tries: Papali’i, Fusitu’a 2, Lisone, Maumolo, Kata; Goals: Johnson 4
Full match reports from all this weekend’s NRL games will feature in Monday’s League Express