7 Feb 2016

Warriors trounced in Nines final

8:59 pm on 7 February 2016

The Parramatta Eels have spoiled the hometown party by smashing the New Zealand Warriors 22-4 to claim the NRL Auckland Nines title.

The Parramatta Eels celebrate their win over the New Zealand Warriors in the Auckland NRL Nines final at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday 7 February 2016. Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

The Parramatta Eels celebrate their win over the New Zealand Warriors in the Auckland NRL Nines final Photo: Photosport

The Warriors went into their first-ever Nines finals as heavy favourites in front of a parochial Eden Park crowd but the Eels caused a major boilover.

The Warriors' defeat was further soured as star halfback Shaun Johnson limped from the field in the second half and appeared troubled by a leg injury.

Young Parramatta fullback Bevan French put in a near-irresistible case for a NRL starting spot this year, scoring the opening try and ending the tournament as the top try-scorer with eight.

When the Warriors failed to clean up a Luke Kelly midfield bomb, French picked up the spoils and went under the posts for a valuable bonus-point try.

Shaun Johnson of the Warriors acknowledges supporters after the loss to the Eels.

Shaun Johnson of the Warriors acknowledges supporters after the loss to the Eels. Photo: 123RF

The Eels controlled all the early field position and when a Corey Norman cut-out pass sent Semi Radradra over for his sixth of the tournament, they were well in control at 11-0.

The Warriors needed a spark and it came just a minute later when superstar recruit Roger Tuivasa-Sheck sliced through to reduce the margin to seven at the break.

The Warriors suffered a big blow after the restart when Johnson limped off after copping a knock in a mad scramble to field the kick-off.

He returned briefly but ended the game limping gingerly on the sideline.

The Eels killed off the game when Tepai Moeroa broke open the Warriors defence and Vai Toutai scored soon after, before Cody Nelson crossed to put an exclamation point on the result.

Johnson said afterwards his leg injury was just a cork, and he would be fine.

First-ever final for Warriors

The Warriors reached their first-ever final at the Auckland NRL Nines with a 22-6 win over the Gold Coast Titans.

Jeff Robson scored first for the Warriors, and Jonathan Wright backed that up with an intercept try almost immediately afterwards to make it 10-0, as the Titans struggled to get out of their own half.

The Warriors' Solomone Kata makes a run at Zac Santo of the Raiders in the quarter final during day 2 of the NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park, Sunday 7 February 2016. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / www.photosport.nz

The Warriors' Solomone Kata makes a run at Zac Santo of the Raiders Photo: Photosport

Solomone Kata then raced away to score the home side's third try before Ignatius Paasi crossed for Gold Coast to make it 16-4 at half-time.

Tuimoala Lolohea sealed the scoreline with a try in the last minute.

The Warriors made the Nines semi-finals with a 16-8 defeat of the Canberra Raiders, after needing some Shaun Johnson magic to reach the quarter-finals.

The Warriors ran in four tries to two to beat Canberra.

Shaun Johnson is delighted with his match-winning try against the Broncos

Shaun Johnson is delighted with his match-winning try against the Broncos Photo: Photosport

Kata scored two tries in a couple of minutes after wing Jonathan Wright opened the scoring against the Raiders.

The debutant Henare Wells scored the fourth try as the Warriors led 16-0, before two late strikes put back in the contest.

The Gold Coast Titans thrashed the Manly Sea Eagles 24-4 to book their semi spot, while the Storm beat the North Queensland Cowboys 14-6.

In the first quarter-final, Parramatta scored three first-half tries then the Eels held on to beat the Newcastle Knights 12-8.

Magic Johnson kept Warriors hopes alive

Earlier, halfback Johnson electrified Eden Park with a trademark stepping run to score a bonus zone try and earn the Warriors their 15-8 victory over the Brisbane Broncos and a place in the Nines quarter-finals.

After the Canterbury Bulldogs kept their playoffs hopes alive and ended Manly's winning run with a 14-8 triumph in the penultimate pool game at Eden Park, it was victory or bust for the Warriors.

Shaun Johnson scores the winning try against the Broncos at the NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday 7 February 2016. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung / www.photosport.nz

Shaun Johnson scores the winning try against the Broncos at the Nines Photo: Photosport

And the home side trailed early on again, before Nathaniel Roache hit back to level the scores at 4-4.

But the Broncos scored again before half-time to lead 8-4 at the break.

Wells levelled the scores again soon after, however it didn't look like the hosts would get the go-ahead try they needed.

Then with less than two minutes on the clock, Johnson got the ball infield and jigged his way past at least three would-be tacklers to dot down for the bonus try between the posts, which he converted.

-RNZ, AAP

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