Not since the heady days of 1995 have the One New Zealand Warriors seen crowds like it at home.
It’s a graphic measure of how the club has rebounded and reset after three challenging seasons in exile that it can boast the best average attendance numbers seen at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart in the last 28 campaigns.
On Saturday night a crowd of 23,686 saw the Andrew Webster-coached side surge to a 30-8 win over the newly introduced Dolphins, a result that left the Warriors seventh on the ladder after 14 rounds.
It lifted the total attendance for the first four home games at Go Media Stadium to 86,371, an average of 21,592 a game.
Earlier in the season there were crowds of 18,595 (Bulldogs), 23,695 (Cowboys) and 20,395 (Roosters), the latter a remarkable number given the appalling weather conditions that Sunday.
The closest challenger to this season’s numbers was last year when the four games played at the ground averaged 20,282; those matches against Wests Tigers, Melbourne, Canterbury-Bankstown and Gold Coast were played later in the season when Warriors-starved fans turned up in big numbers to reconnect with the team after so long away.
Outside that example, the only other post-1995 seasons to produce 20,000-plus averages in the first four matches of the year at Mount Smart were in 2009 (20,084) and 1996 (20,042); the 2009 numbers jumped off the back of the Kiwis' history-making Rugby League World Cup win over Australia in November, 2008.
In 1995 a total of 110,252 fans attended the first four matches at the then-Ericsson Stadium, an average of 27,563.
After playing Canberra away tomorrow night and then St George Illawarra in Wollongong on June 23, the One New Zealand Warriors play five of their last nine games at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart – South Sydney on Friday, June 30 (8.00pm), Cronulla-Sutherland on Sunday, July 16 (4.00pm), Canberra on Friday, July 21 (8.00pm), Manly Warringah on Friday, August 18 (8.00pm) and St George Illawarra on Friday, August 25 (8.00pm). They also have an away game in Hamilton against the Wests Tigers on Saturday, August 12.
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