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Home, sweet home for Warriors as they thump Bulldogs to give fans plenty to celebrate

Finals hopes were long gone for each team but the Warriors caused a huge upset on Friday night by romping home to a 42-18 victory over Canterbury in Auckland.

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

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

It was an impressive seven tries to three win for the underperforming Warriors, who put on one of their best performances of the season to reclaim 13th spot from Newcastle and all but ensure they can’t finish with the wooden spoon.

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

The Warriors dominated possession and constantly applied pressure.

The Bulldogs on the other hand were a far cry from the exciting high-flyers we have grown accustomed to seeing in the back end of the season.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 12: Shaun Johnson of the Warriors makes a break to score a try during the round 22 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Mt Smart Stadium on August 12, 2022, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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

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

The Warriors opened the scoring on the back of a penalty after Canterbury’s Braidon Burns was put on report for a shoulder charge. A beautiful cut-out pass from Harris onto Johnson, followed by a double pump and Viliami Vailea crossed over to score.  

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

Bulldogs fullback Jake Averillo got his side back in the match, barging over the line in the 18th minute. But his side produced a coach-killer moment, knocking on shortly after the restart.

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

Returning from the half-time break trailing 18-6, the Dogs were first to strike after Kyle Flanagan scooped up a dropped ball from Walsh near the line to score.  They levelled the score when Josh Addo-Carr intercepted a lollypop pass from Johnson and sprinted the length of the field.

A try in the 56th minute after a short ball from Johnson to a storming Eliesa Katoa got the Warriors back in front by six.

The rest of the second half became a real grind, before the floodgates opened. With six minutes left on the clock, Johnson pushed the lead out further, throwing two dummies to get through the defence and scoring under the sticks.

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

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