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Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak starred as the Warriors came from behind to kick start their 2024 campaign with an 18-10 defeat of the Raiders in Christchurch on Friday night.

Coming off back-to-back narrow losses, the Warriors found themselves in another close contest but Tuivasa-Sheck and Watene-Zelezniak ensured they were on the right side of the scorecard in front of a full house at Apollo Projects Stadium.

Chasing a 3-0 start to their season, the Raiders stayed in the contest until the end but the Warriors bounced back from last weekend's heart breaking loss in Melbourne after Xavier Coates scored on the last play of the game. 

The Warriors showed some early confidence on the back of a Raiders error with Shaun Johnson finding Addin Fonua-Blake in space who brushed off Raiders defenders before strolling over the line.

The Raiders looked to hit back in the 30th minute when five-eighth Ethan Strange muscled his way over the line, however the try was denied after the bunker ruled a loss of possession. 

But the Raiders had momentum and in their next set star centre Matt Timoko stamped his authority, powering through Tuivasa-Sheck and Marcela Montoya to make it 6-4.

Matthew Timoko Try

Canberra were on the attack in the shadows of half time and in range for a two-point field goal but Watene-Zelezniak laid on a huge tackle on Albert Hopoate to ensure his side took their two-point lead to the sheds.

After holding off the Warriors for repeated sets on their line, the Raiders stole the lead when Jamal Fogarty delivered a peach of a pass for Timoko, who tipped on to right winger Nick Cotric to score. Fogarty converted to make it 10-6.

However, Canberra's lead was short lived as Watene-Zelezniak took the ball across-field before finding a perfectly positioned Luke Metcalf, who dived over next to the uprights for a 62nd minute try. Metcalf converted to make it 12-10.

Luke Metcalf Try

Tuivasa-Sheck put the Warriors further ahead just three minutes later after swooping on a fumbled Metcalf kick before powering through Hudson Young and Albert Hopoate to stretch the lead 18-10. 

Match Snapshot

  • Warriors fullback Taine Tuaupiki was sent for a HIA in the 47th minute which he failed.
  • The Raiders had three captain challenges in three minutes in the final 10 minutes of the match. The third was unsuccessful.
  • Raiders forward Hudson Young made his 100th NRL appearance. The NSW representative made a team-high 38 tackles.
  • Warriors centre Roger Tuivasa-Sheck bagged a try, broke four tackles and ran for 188 metres.
  • The Warriors have now won four of their past five games against the Raiders.
  • Ricky Stuart coached his 250th game for the Raiders.

Play of the Game 

Welcome back Roger Tuivasa-Sheck! It was the moment Warriors fans have been waiting for with the star recruit standing up when it mattered. With the game in the balance and 15 minutes to play, the Kiwi international gliding past Raiders defenders to cross for his first NRL try in three years.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck Try

What They Said 

"It was a game that could have gone either way. There were moments that I thought were a bit disappointing and moments where I thought we had the opportunity to get back in the match. didn't expect it to be anything different, respectfully. I knew we'd be up for a performance and I knew we'd be playing a good footy team so that's the way we prepared and that's what we got." - Raiders coach Ricky Stuart 

Raiders: Round 3

"We've had two weeks where we played pretty and looked really good at times and tonight probably didn't look as good but we got the win and sometimes you've got to win lucky. I'm really wrapped for the boys, they dug in at the end there and found a way to get it done. I think there's going to be a huge amount of relief and we can move on from here which is good." - Warriors coach Andrew Webster

Raiders: Round 3

What's Next

The Raiders are back on the road next week to meet the Sharks at PointsBet Stadium while the Warriors return to Auckland to host the Knights for a semi-final rematch.

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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