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Warriors surge late to quell Storm in 'Unite For Tonga' trial

The 'Unite For Tonga' trial game produced plenty of intensity and passion as the Warriors charged home in the second half to down Melbourne 30-18 at Casey Fields on Saturday.

Tongans George Jennings (Storm) and Eliesa Katoa (Warriors) were given the honour of captaining their sides as the cobwebs were blown out in front of a healthy crowd of just under 7000 fans.

The Storm kicked away early through converted tries to new winger Xavier Coates and lock Brandon Smith before the Warriors steadied the ship on either side of quarter-time with a double to Marcelo Montoya.

Montoya gets his second

With Bayley Sironen, Euan Aitken and Eliesa Katoa getting through a power of work in defence the Warriors were able to frustrate the Storm into some poor decisions and the pressure paid off when Reece Walsh crossed in the 38th minute to give Nathan Brown's men a 14-12 lead.

Cameron Munster then stamped his class on the match when he put Dean Ieremia over for a try with a superb pass and the Storm were back in front.

The game then developed into an arm wrestle before train-and-trial prop Garrett Smith from the Mackay Cutters scored under the posts to put the Warriors up by two with 10 minutes to play.

A 40-20 from Adam Cook then gave the Warriors field position and Walsh capitalised with a sweet pass to send Junior Ratuva over in the corner and the Warriors had done enough.

Match Snapshot

The Warriors have played finals footy only once since making the grand final in 2011 but in Reece Walsh and Chanel Harris-Tavita they have a dynamic duo capable of returning them to the post-season. Both youngsters showed some sweet touches in attack and combined well on two of the Warriors' tries.

  • How good is afternoon footy! With the sun on their backs the players threw the ball around and some classy tries were scored before fatigue started to take a toll late in the game.
  • Bring on Anzac Day. The foundations of AAMI Park will be rocking when these two huge packs match motors on an emotion charged night.
  • On a day where funds were raised for his homeland of Tonga, Addin Fonua-Blake stood tall for the Warriors with 60 metres from seven runs in the first half before fellow big man Matt Lodge stepped into the breach.
  • Jack Howarth made a string of good defensive decisions for the Storm and ran for 112 metres in an impressive outing.
  • Jonah Pezet was sin binned late in the match for high contact on Reece Walsh after the Warriors star had delivered the final pass for Junior Ratuva's try.

Play of the Game

After trailing 12-0 early the Warriors regrouped and hit the lead in the 38th minute when whiz kid Reece Walsh crossed for what is sure to be the first of many tries in 2022. A quick play the ball from Ben Murdoch-Masila put the Warriors on the front foot and Jazz Tevaga was able to find Chanel Harris-Tavita who delivered a perfectly timed pass to Walsh who streaked away. 

Walsh finishes a brilliant team try

What's Next

The Storm head for Ballarat to take on the Knights at Mars Stadium in Wendouree in their final hit-out before taking on Wests Tigers in round one of the Telstra Premiership. Star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen could be a chance to play after recovering from a rolled ankle although it's more likely he'll be kept in cotton wool until the season opener. Jesse Bromwich (elbow) and Felise Kaufusi are also expected to suit up.

The Warriors will be hoping for a big crowd at their home base of Redcliffe when they take on the Titans in their second trial. After copping a head knock in the All Stars game and sitting out the Storm game, Josh Curran should be good to go.

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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