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Johnson supreme as Warriors crash Croker's party

The Warriors crashed Jarrod Croker’s 300-game party with an emphatic 36-14 win at GIO Stadium on Friday night.

With former Raider Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and playmaking supremo Shaun Johnson running hot, the Warriors turned in a two-point half-time deficit into their eighth win of the season.

The Raiders had an early shot at points after a clever grubber by Jamal Fogarty forced a line dropout but the Warriors held firm.

A bomb by Fogarty in the 12th minute couldn't be handled by the Warriors and Matt Timoko collected the scraps but was held up over the line.

Through the first 16 minutes the Raiders had 64 per cent of possession but were unable to crack a resolute Warriors defence before an individual piece of Jack Wighton brilliance got the Green Machine rolling in the 22nd minute.

Wighton starts the party

Wighton took the ball to the line and put in a grubber which was played at by the Warriors and bounced back into the five-eighth's hands to dive over and score.

The Warriors then lost Mitch Barnett to the sin bin for a high shot but managed to level the scores while they were a man down, with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scoring a spectacular try off a Johnson cross field kick. The halfback converted to make it 6-6.

A penalty goal to milestone man Jarrod Croker in the 35th minute gave Canberra an 8-6 lead at the half-time break but eight minutes into the second term the Warriors went ahead when Nicoll-Klokstad got around Croker and dotted down for his third try of the season.

Barnett sent to the bin

Come the 55th minute and the Warriors extended their lead to 18-8 when Tom Ale powered over for his first career try courtesy of a deft short ball from skipper Tohu Harris.

When Raiders prop Joe Tapine was penalised for a lifting tackle on the hour mark the Warriors marched down field and threatened to score again but Croker shut down the play with a strong tackle on Nicoll-Klokstad.

The Warriors put the game out of reach in the 63rd minute when Johnson laid on a peach of a pass for Luke Metcalf to cross under the sticks and the score was out to 24-8.

Hooker Wayde Egan then jumped out of dummy half to make it four tries in 20 minutes for the Warriors before Josh Papali'i grabbed a consolation try for the Raiders to make it 30-14.

Johnson then capped a magnificent game when he intercepted a Seb Kris pass and strolled over to make the final score 36-14.

Match Snapshot

  • The Raiders faithful gave milestone man Jarrod Croker a minute's applause in the third minute in honour of his 300th game.
  • Raiders prop Josh Papalii had an outstanding opening 20-minute stint with 77 metres from seven runs.
  • Warriors forward Mitch Barnett was placed on report and sent to the sin bin for a high shot on Jordan Rapana, who left the field for a HIA. He passed the HIA and was able to return.
  • Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton was put on report in the 30th minute for a dangerous tackle.
  • Warriors prop Addin Fonua-Blake played the first 40 minutes without a break, coming up 21 tackles and 60 running metres. He finished the night with 180 metres.

A very special Viking Clap

  • Warriors fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was huge against his former team with six tackle breaks and 24 runs for 194 metres.
  • The Warriors have now won four away games in 2023 - against the Cowboys in Round 3, Sharks in Round 5, Bulldogs in Round 11 and Raiders in Round 15.
  • Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson left the field for a HIA in the 67th minute after an accidental head clash with Elliott Whitehead. He passed the HIA and returned to the field to score a try.
  • Mitch Barnett was a powerhouse off the bench for the Warriors with 165 metres from 16 runs.
  • Warriors forward Marata Niukore was put on report and sent to the bin in the 76th minute for a high shot that forced Jordan Rapana off for a second HIA.

Ale flies through

Play of the Game

Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak made it six tries in his past four games with a stunning effort in the 32nd minute. Enjoying a superb season in his 10th year in the NRL, Watene-Zelezniak called for a cross field kick from Shaun Johnson with Raiders winger Albert Hopoate well infield. DWZ flew through the night sky and pulled the ball down before planting just inches inside the touchline. The 27-year-old's best return in a season was 12 tries for the Panthers back in 2016 and he looks to be on track to better that mark in 2023.

An instant classic from Dallin

What they Said

"We weren't playing terrible, they were just playing unbelievable (at the start). We obviously wanted to be a bit more physical than we early in the game than what we were but I think we should celebrate that we didn't let them cross our line on so many occasions with the amount of opportunities they had in that first half. The resilience on our try line is something to be proud of. And then the second half we just came out and blew them away. The motivation for us was Ali (Leiataua) making his debut so we wanted to do the right thing by him, we also had a couple of 50 gamers. So we had our own milestones to celebrate and two points were up for grabs. We were excited about the full house and excited about the occasion, we didn't use it as motivation we just simply thought if we could play our game and how we wanted to play then we'd come away with the two points." - Warriors coach Andrew Webster

Warriors: Round 15

"I'm more proud to be a Raider more than I ever have been. The fans don't deserve the result but we've got to give the Warriors credit. I've seen how much time and effort has gone into this week from every person, from upstairs to downstairs at HQ. I will never forget this week, ever. The boys are as upset as me... the result stings for now but we'll come out of it." - Raiders captian Jarrod Croker 

Raiders: Round 15

What's Next

The Raiders have a bye in Round 16 before a clash against the Roosters in Round 17 four days after Origin II.

The Warriors also have the bye next week and then travel to Wollongong in Round 17 for a Friday night clash with the Dragons.

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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