A last-minute Chanel Harris-Tavita field goal has proved to be the difference between the Warriors and the Wyong Roos in an absolute thriller at Allianz Stadium.
Lewis Soosemea put on a try-scoring clinic as he scored his second hat-trick this month, and was heavily assisted by his fleet-footed centre Cole Waaka.
The Roos started the match in good field position when Luke Sharpe was taken out illegally and awarded a penalty. A beautiful grubber by Mitch Cornish on last tackle sat up perfectly for Paul Momirovski, who timed his chase to perfection to post first points for Wyong.
The Warriors’ first chance in decent position was butchered when a kick for touch failed to find the sideline, but when a Cornish grubber found the dead ball line they used the seven-tackle set to their advantage. A right-to-left shift saw Soosemea with the ball in his hands, and some individual brilliance saw him skip through the defence and break multiple tackles to score a brilliant try.
A Cornish chip kick intended for Sharpe looked to have been executed with perfection until the live-wire fullback was once again illegally taken out by a Warriors defender, and the Roos took the penalty goal to nudge out to an 8-6 lead.
The Warriors responded with a penalty goal of their own shortly after, and then were gifted a try-scoring opportunity after a Wyong error in their own half. They built pressure and eventually scored through Soosemea after some brilliance by Waaka, where he skipped around the defence and threw a beautiful pass to his winger.
That footwork by Waaka showed no signs of slowing up during the half-time break, as he picked up a ball on the half volley before putting on a Shaun Johnson-like left foot step to fool the defence, before weaving his way through another two players and reaching out for a try.
While that try was all class and finesse, the next try to Wyong was brute force. Nat Butcher was a man on a mission, and when he got the ball in his hands, he used his big frame to bust his way through and score a powerful try under the posts to reduce the deficit to 18-14.
Wyong then rolled up-field and did it all again to once again take the lead, which is becoming a recurrent theme for them to start the year. A mid-field bomb was put up and Matt Ikuvalu plucked it out of the air to score on almost the exact same blade of grass that Butcher scored on earlier.
An error to the Roos gave the Warriors another sniff, and that’s all Soosemea needs after Chanel Harris-Tavita threw him a bullet right-to-left pass that changed the lead once again.
Soosemea made a long-range dash to put the Warriors in range once again, and were only denied points when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was pulled up for a double movement.
Manaia Cherrington was penalised directly in front of the posts for a high tackle on Mitch Williams, and as the Roos were down by two points, they decided to lock the scores up at 22-all with just under five minutes remaining.
After kicking it out on the full, Wyong responded by not allowed the Warriors to take a field goal for an entire set despite being in good field position through relentless defensive pressure.
They knocked it on next set though, and they were unable to stop Harris-Tavita slot the match-winning field goal.
Warriors 23 (L Soosemea 3, C Waaka tries; C Harris-Tavita 3 goals; C Harris-Tavita field goal) def Wyong Roos 22 (P Momirovski, N Butcher, M Ikuvalu tries; J Mantellato 5 goals)