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A William Piliu penalty three minutes from fulltime salvaged a valuable 14-14 draw in the wet for the One New Zealand Warriors in today’s ninth-round Jersey Flegg Cup (under-21) match against the Knights in Newcastle.

The result leaves the Warriors unbeaten in their last three games after opening the season with five consecutive losses.

The standout feature has been the improvement in their defence, again in full evidence today as they kept the opposition to just 14 points, their best defensive effort of the season so far.

After leaking an average of almost 39 points a game in the first three rounds, they’ve allowed an average of only 18.8 points in their last five matches.

Yet again the Warriors let in an early try with winger Jeremy Trappett scoring in just the third minute but they were unperturbed, striking back only eight minutes later through centre Nganatatafu Vake.

The teams remained locked up at 6-6 with 12 minutes to go in the half when the home side struck twice in the space of three minutes for a 14-6 lead (although two missed conversions would prove costly).

Needing to hit back next in difficult conditions, the One New Zealand Warriors did just that early in the second half through halfback Caleb Laiman, critically converted by hooker Etuate Fukofuka to leave them just 12-14 behind.

With 25 minutes to play, the contest became a battle with the Knights hanging on grimly to their two-point advantage until the Warriors earned their chance to level up through Piliu.

They’re back at North Harbour Stadium next Saturday facing the Sydney Roosters.

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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