Home, sweet home of the Warriors as they hit the Bulldogs to give fans something to celebrate

Final hopes were long gone for either side, but the Warriors caused a huge upset on Friday night by claiming a 42-18 win over Canterbury in Auckland.

After nearly three years on the road due to the pandemic, the Warriors are relishing the end of the season with a few return games at Mt Smart Stadium and they have won their fourth clash against Canterbury on a trot in front of a very boisterous home crowd.

They have won two of their three matches in Auckland since returning last month and after two more matches in Australia they will end their campaign in the final round at Mt Smart Stadium in Round 25 against the Titans.

It was an impressive seven-to-three win for the underachieving Warriors, who put in one of their best performances of the season to reclaim 13th place from Newcastle and ensure they cannot finish with the wooden spoon.

The hosts were solid in defense and creative in attack. Forwards Tohu Harris and Addin Fonua-Blake were instrumental in the victory, with Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Shaun Johnson and Reece Walsh impressive at the back.

The Warriors dominated possession and consistently applied pressure.

The Bulldogs, on the other hand, were far from the exciting high-flyers we’re used to seeing at the end of the season.

(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Seven errors in the first half and three more in the second half kept the visitors on their toes for most of the night.

Having to make 113 more tackles than their opponents gassed Canterbury forwards, and their usual entertaining attack was well limited.

The Warriors opened the scoring from a penalty after Canterbury’s Braidon Burns was flagged for a shoulder charge. A nice cut pass from Harris on Johnson, followed by a double pump and Viliami Vailea crossed to score.

The home side got their fans back on their feet minutes later when Watene-Zelezniak intercepted a pass from Matt Burton and raced down the field for a four-pointer. Walsh added the extras for a 12-0 lead.

Bulldogs fullback Jake Averillo got his team back in the game, crossing the line in the 18th minute. But his team produced a coach killer moment, striking shortly after the restart.

The Warriors took advantage, and at the back of the scrum, Johnson combined with Walsh to send Edward Kosi for their third down.

Coming back from halftime trailing 18-6, the Dogs were the first to strike after Kyle Flanagan recovered a dropped ball from Walsh near the line to score. They tied the score when Josh Addo-Carr intercepted a lollipop pass from Johnson and sprinted the full length of the pitch.

A 56th-minute try after a short ball from Johnson to a raging Eliesa Katoa put the Warriors ahead by six.

The rest of the second half became a real drag, before the floodgates opened. With six minutes remaining on the clock, Johnson pushed the lead further, tossing two dummies to get through the defense and scoring under the sticks.

Two quick tries in the final minutes from Kosi and Fonua-Blake put the icing on the cake to secure the 24-point win for the Warriors.

Sports Grp2

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