A late penalty try for Kodie Nikorima has saved NZ Warriors from an unwanted piece of NRL history, even in a 20-6 defeat to Canberra Raiders on the Gold Coast.
Stranded across the Tasman by the coronavirus pandemic, the Auckland-based side have endured an emotional week, after deciding to leave their families at home and persevere with the season.
But on the first two weeks' performance, it may prove a long season, as the Warriors contemplated a second scoreless result in as many outings.
No team has opened the season with two pointless games, since the Annandale 'Dales' of the 1920 New South Wales Rugby Football League. That was a century ago and they went on to record a winless season - their last in the top flight.
Luckily, the Warriors were finally able to trouble the scoreboard with five minutes remaining against Canberra and escape that particular distinction.
From a play-the-ball on the Raiders line, hooker Wayde Egan put a kick through for Nikorima to chase, but he taken out of play by a head-high tackle and video reviews confirmed he would surely have scored otherwise.
That was a brief moment of of joy in another frustrating performance for the Warriors, who trailled only 6-0 at halftime, but conceded two tries soon after the restart to dash any hopes of a come-from-behind triumph.
Raiders and former Kiwis forward Iosia Soliola chased a deft kick from Josh Hodgson to score the first of those, while former NZ sevens representative Bailey Simonsson eventually capitalised on Adam Blair's dropped pass on attack to grab the second, breaking the Warriors' resistance.
Blair's faux pas - one of four for the game - came as his team threatened the Canberra line, but he was unable to take Nikorima's pass and former Warrior Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad scampered across halfway, creating a four-on-one overlap for his backline.
The Warriors were unlucky not to open the scoring after just six minutes, when Chanel Harris-Tavita's high kick to the goalposts was snatched by Raiders centre Jarrod Croker, who lost the ball on landing.
Warriors prop Lachlan Burr pounced on the loose ball and forced over the line, but video reviews suggested Croker had been tackled in the air and the try was disallowed.
Otherwise, the Warriors again failed to finish their sets with any kind of imagination, an issue throughout last season as well.
They lost Burr to a head injury assessment in the first half, while Blair and rookie Eliesa Katoa were also required to pass head examinations.
In his first run-on start, Katoa was probably the Warriors' best on the day, running for 149 metres and making 27 tackles. He was also denied a first-half try, when he charged over the line, but could not force the ball in a tackle.
Next Friday, the Warriors face a road game against the Manly Sea Eagles.
Canberra Raiders 20 (Whitehead, Simonsson & Soliola tries; Croker two goals) NZ Warriors 6 (Penalty try; Harris-Tavita goal)
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