You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

The Storm scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to beat the Warriors 24-6 in an at times error-ridden Pre-season Challenge clash in Christchurch on Sunday afternoon. 

With a total of 30 errors made between the two sides, it was a performance unlikely to have pleased either coach too much, with the start of the season proper less than a fortnight away.

But there were plenty of positives as well, led by likely Round 1 debutant Will Warbrick impressing on the wing for the Storm and off-season recruit Jackson Ford looking good for the Warriors in the back row for the second-straight week. 

After a first half in which there were three times as many errors as points, the Warriors took a 6-0 lead into the sheds thanks to a 60-metre solo effort from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

DWZ breaks away for the opening try

But Craig Bellamy's side showed marked improvement in the second half, running in four converted tries to record a comfortable victory in the end. 

Representative winger Xavier Coates made a try-scoring return from injury on the wing, while veteran prop Christian Welch emerged unscathed from his second match back from last year's season-ending injury. 

Match Snapshot

  • The Storm scored 24 unanswered points in in the second half.
  • There were 30 errors in the match, with the Warriors making 16 of those, while Andrew Webster's side also missed 53 tackles. 
  • New Zealand-born powerhouse Will Warbrick put his hand up for 15 carries in the win, finishing with 205 metres and strengthening his claim for the vacant right wing spot at the Storm. 
  • Jackson Ford looks set to earn a spot in Andrew Webster's Round 1 side after building on his strong showing last week with a busy first half in the second row. 
  • Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was placed on report in the 58th minute for a possible hip-drop tackle on Dean Ieremia. 

Niukore smokes Pene

  • Just as the game ticked over 25 minutes Watene-Zelezniak burst through the defence directly following a scrum and went 60 metres untouched for a try which Shaun Johnson converted. 
  • Right on half time the Storm had a Cameron Munster try next to the posts rubbed out when the NRL Bunker found obstruction in the lead up, meaning the Warriors went into the break up 6-0. 

Grant sets up Katoa to score against his old club

  • After their second successful Captain's Challenge of the day, the Warriors should have scored again on 44 minutes, only for Brayden Wiliame to drop the ball with the try-line waiting, and on the next set Harry Grant broke free and linked with Eliesa Katoa for a try under the posts. 

Coates seals the game in spectacular fashion

  • Warbrick's barnstorming run down the right gave the Storm their second try.
  • Nelson Asofa-Solomona powered over for another on 67 minutes, before Xavier Coates put the result beyond doubt four minutes later. 

Play of the Game

With Ryan Papenhuyzen not expected to be seen at NRL level until at least Round 5, the ensuing backline reshuffle is likely to see former New Zealand rugby sevens player Will Warbrick get his shot in the NRL. He did his chances no harm with this impressive four-pointer, which showed off his athleticism and power. 

Warbrick is all power and pace

What they Said

"We just couldn't build any pressure really... we just continued to make unforced errors. I think that told by the end of the game, just fatigue levels, you can't keep defending your line when you make those errors." - Warriors captain Tohu Harris.

"First half was a real struggle. Completed at 50 percent... [Craig Bellamy] was just a bit disappointed because we spoke about it all week. Last week we did the same thing against the Roosters. Really need to tidy that up for Round 1." - Storm prop Christian Welch. 

What's Next

The Storm will open the 2023 season with a Thursday night clash against the Eels at CommBank Stadium. The Warriors prepare to host a home game away from home in Round 1, taking on the Knights in Wellington, with playmaker Te Maire Martin set to be available again following the birth of his first child. 

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.

Principal Partner

Major Partners

Official Sponsors

View All Partners