Warriors overpower Dragons in NRL magic round

By James Perry

The New Zealand Warriors have secured their first victory since the beginning of April with a come from behind 28-18 win over the St George-Illawarra Dragons last night.

Coach Stephen Kearney is praising his side's perseverance in coming from 18-6 down midway through the 2nd half, "It would've been easy for the lads to sort of tuck the ball under the wing and not play any footy, but they went after it and I thought that was what I was really proud of. Takes courage to do that," he says.

The Mt Smart club trailed the entire match until new signing Kodi Nikorima and Peta Hiku combined in the 70th minute to put Ken Maumalo over in the corner. 

Earlier in the match, the Dragons had scored first inside 5 minutes when Zac Lomax scored off of a Tyson Frizzel offload before Jai Field scored the first try of his NRL career two minutes later to put the Dragons up 10-0 inside the opening 10 minutes.

Warriors prop Agnatius Paasi opened the team's account shortly after the 10-minute mark.

Despite the Warriors entering the Dragons danger-zone 3 more times before the half-time break, they couldn't add to their score.

Dragons hooker Cameron McInnes crossed midway through the first half to give his side an 18-6 lead which they carried into the sheds at half time.

In the second half, a bit of Nikorima magic on what was his home turf until last week put Hiku over the line for the first of his two tries closing the gap between the two sides.

Captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, as always posed a threat and it wasn't long after when he helped put David Fusitu'a over in the right corner, rookie centre Patrick Herbert converted to tie the scores up at 18-all. 

While Nikorima showed some glimpses of his talent, Kearney is wanting to wait and see what the Ngāti Apa halfback can deliver once he gets settled in his new surroundings.

"I thought he could've got into the game a little bit more [in the second half]. He's probably getting used to things, it was a bit tense and tight midway through that second half. 

Kearney says, "We know what he can do with the footy, he can really challenge the defensive line, so I 've got no doubt he'll be an asset for us."

The win puts the Warriors in 12th position, four points outside the top 8. They take on the struggling Penrith Panthers in Penrith this Friday night.