NRL: New Zealand Warriors impress in final NRL trial against West Tigers

Nathaniel Roache
Nathaniel Roache. Photo credit: Image: Photosport

The NZ Warriors have hinted at the prospect of another competitive NRL campaign, beating the Wests Tigers in an uneventful trial match at Whangarei.

The home side scored five tries to three and largely dominated Saturday's contest, with wingers David Fusitu'a and Ken Maumalo bagging two tries each to help the Warriors win 26-16.

Interest surrounded the halves combinations for both teams, but few major conclusions could be drawn.

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney, searching for a replacement for departed halfback Shaun Johnson, gave rookie contenders Adam Keighran and Chanel Harris-Tavita equal game time.

Former Penrith reserve grader Keighran played most of the first half alongside Blake Green and also had goalkicking duties, suggesting he would be handed a playmaking berth in their season-opener in two weeks against Canterbury.

New Tigers coach Michael Maguire split game time evenly between starting halves Luke Brooks and Benji Marshall, while Josh Reynolds featured prominently in the second spell.

The Warriors led 14-6 at halftime in hot conditions in front of a loud crowd, with Maumalo scoring a double and Fusitu'a crossing once, while Brooks grabbed a four-pointer for the Tigers off a sweet offload from Sydney Roosters recruit Ryan Matterson.

Fusitu'a grabbed his second and Adam Pompey scored to push the Warriors 18 points clear, before Luke Garner and Esan Marsters managed consolation tries in the final five minutes.

Tigers captain Moses Mbye said improvement was needed before their opening match against Manly.

"There were a lot of scrappy things around our game," he said. "Credit to the Warriors - they came with intent and outplayed us.

"In a couple of week's time, we're playing for two points, so we've really got to get it together."

Warriors counterpart Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was happy with a clinical performance and several players putting their hands up for starting roles.

"The whole goal was to stick to our structures and just execute the plays that we had from upstairs," he said. "We can give ourselves a big tick."

No apparent injuries emerged from the game.

Elijah Taylor was a late Tigers withdrawal with what the club called a minor pectoral muscle injury, while Adam Blair was also pulled from the Warriors line-up with hamstring tightness.


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