NRL 2019: Stephen Kearney relieved with Warriors' field-goal win over Sharks

NZ Warriors coach Stephen Kearney was a relieved man as his team managed to scrape home to a 19-18 win over the Cronulla Sharks in Wellington on Friday night. 

The game was destined to go to golden-point before Blake Green slotted his first career field goal in the 74th minute, which proved to be the difference in a scrappy encounter. 

The Warriors have struggled this season to close out games, and the fact they won by the field goal was extra satisfying for Kearney as it was the first one-pointer his team has converted all season. 

Six of the Warriors' last seven games have been decided by six points or less, with two of those decided in golden-point for a loss and a draw.

The win ensures the Warriors remain on the cusp of the top eight with seven games remaining this season.  

"It is a relief," said Kearney. "We had a few of those over the last probably month, and for the guys to navigate their way through that and get a result tonight was really pleasing.

Blake Green slots the game-winning field-goal against the Sharks.
Blake Green slots the game-winning field-goal against the Sharks. Photo credit: Photosport

"With 35-40 seconds to go, we still managed to make it hard for ourselves, but I was just really pleased for the guys. It's been a fairly disrupted week on the back of a quick turnaround. I'm just thankful it went our way." 

What made the win more impressive was the fact the Warriors overcame a 12-2 deficit to win the match, while they only scored two tries to the Sharks' three. The win was also the Warriors' first over the Sharks since 2015. 

They were also without wingers Ken Maumalo (concussion) and David Fusitu'a (hamstring) who are both vital players in the Warriors' lineup. Blake Ayshford and Adam Pompey came in, and Kearney was impressed with the duo's performance. 

"It wasn't an ideal start to our captain's run when we lost Ken, and then we lost David during the captain's run," Kearney said.

"Adam Pompey was called into the group, Blake Ayshford didn't even do captain's run, he went straight to the airport.

"So just the way the guys managed that, the spirit was really good and really high.

"I reckon [Fusitu'a] will probably be [out for] two weeks maybe."

Once again, controversial refereeing decisions were a talking point as the Sharks' second and third tries were awarded off a deliberate knock-on and forward pass respectively. 

But after weeks and weeks of talking about marginal calls, Kearney was in no mood to talk about referees.

"I thought their second try, the tip on, I thought that was pretty," Kearney said, raising his eyebrows.

"But I've been in this position three weeks ago talking about referees decisions and what have you. There's no point to keep going on about it.

"We got some poor calls. They got some poor calls. I reckon we just all move on."

The Warriors face the Parramatta Eels in their next encounter on July 27.


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