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The Warriors' 2023 magic carpet ride will carry them back across the Tasman for a preliminary final showdown with the Broncos after they outclassed the Knights 40-10 at Go Media Stadium on Saturday.

After finishing last season in 15th place the Warriors have produced a remarkable turnaround in 2023 and are now just 80 minutes away from a first grand final appearance since 2011.

A mistake by Knights winger Greg Marzhew in the opening set of the game opened the door for Shaun Johnson to lay on a try for Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who left Bradman Best in his wake to make it 4-0.

Johnson then earned his team a repeat set with a pinpoint grubber and the Knights cracked for a second time when Addin Fonua-Blake powered over from close range and the lead was 10 for the home side.

Left winger Marcelo Montoya was next to hit the scoresheet when he finished off some slick passing from Te Maire Martin and Adam Pompey to dot down for his 10th try of the season. Pompey's conversion made it 16-0.

Marcelo Montoya Try

The Knights then steadied and worked their way upfield where mistakes by Johnson and Montoya gave the visitors a chance to click into gear and Marzhew crossed in the 26h minute for a much-needed try.

Having hung tough to trail by just 12 at the break the Knights needed just three minutes to strike first in the second term when Adam Clune put Dylan Lucas over and the margin was back to six points.

Greg Marzhew Try

It took the Warriors just four minutes to answer the challenge when Wayde Egan schemed out of dummy half and found a surging Dylan Walker for the home side's fourth try. Pompey added the extras from close range to make it 22-10.

The Warriors extended their lead on the hour mark when Dallin Watene-Zelezniak produced a miracle pass to find Rocco Berry and the centre carried three defenders over the line to grab a try that brought the house down in Auckland.

With 15 minutes to play the Warriors officially stamped their ticket to a preliminary final when Egan, Johnson and Nicoll-Klokstad combined perfectly to send Watene-Zelezniak over for his 22nd try of the season.

A slight concern for the Warriors when Egan left the field with 13 minutes to play after a heavy collision but nothing could take the gloss off the day for the Auckland faithful.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak Try

A late try to Bayley Sironen out of dummy half put the finishing touches on the emphatic 40-10 win.

Coach Andrew Webster took no risks with his main man Johnson, giving him a rest with six minutes to play as thoughts turned to a Suncorp Stadium blockbuster against Brisbane.

Match Snapshot

  • Warriors back-rower Marata Niukore was helped off with a knee injury in the 20th minute but was able to return after half-time.
  • Knights back-rower Tyson Frizell went on report in the 38th minute for a high tackle on Marcelo Montoya.
  • The Warriors had 19 tackle breaks in the first half compared to eight by the Knights.
  • Warriors fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad ran for a mammoth 308 metres and had eight tackle breaks.
  • Knights utility Kurt Mann left the field in the 48th minute for a HIA which he failed.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad Try

  • Skipper Tohu Harris was huge for the Warriors once again with 216 run metres and 39 tackles.
  • The Warriors have won their past five games at Go Media Stadium.
  • The Knights finished 14th last season and the Warriors 15th.
  • Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has scored nine tries in his past seven games at Go Media Stadium.
  • Warriors wingers Marcelo Montoya and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak combined for 34 runs and 312 metres.
  • Jacob Saifiti (156 metres) was the only Knights forward to run for more than 100 metres.

Dylan Lucas Try

Play of the Game 

Addin Fonua-Blake's ability to find the tryline in 2023 has been nothing short of sensational. The Warriors big man surged into a gap in the seventh minute at Go Media Stadium and touched down his ninth try of the season. Before he turned into a tryscoring machine this season, AFB had crossed 15 times in 135 matches. The 27-year-old has also perfected a unique tryscoring celebration which always brings the Warriors fans to their feet.

Addin Fonua-Blake Try

What They Said 

"We learnt from last week, we played our style and got the game we wanted to get on and the boys got a huge amount of confidence off doing it the way we wanted to do it. We actually tried to dial it down a notch a bit from last week, we were a bit silly with our energy. We were so ramped up so it was about putting our energy and focus into the right things. It's special. Winning any finals game is special but winning in your own backyard with fans and a crowd like that is huge." - Warriors coach Andrew Webster

Warriors: Finals Week 2

"We applied way too much pressure to ourselves with discipline and it's hard at the moment because we've set high standards and for us to be ok with that performance because of what we've done for the last 11 weeks, well that wouldn't mean progress at all so I'm glad it's hurt all of us. But in time we can look back and they've done a pretty good job, we've had some big games in amongst that and I'm proud of what the playing group has done." - Knights coach Adam O'Brien

Knights: Finals Week 2

What's Next

The Warriors march on to a preliminary final showdown against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium while the Knights are left to reflect on a fine season that came up just short of the ultimate prize.

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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