After Friday’s controversial, agonising loss to Cronulla, we could have come up with a related list: the most contentious calls in Warriors history, the greatest injustices in the history of the world etc.
Be we’ve taken a different tact, instead recalling the greatest comebacks from the club’s 23 and a half seasons in the premiership.
10. Warriors v Manly (2012)
The Warriors couldn’t pull off the win in their Round 1 grand final rematch against Manly at Eden Park, but their fight-back after a horror start provided some solace for the club’s supporters.
The Sea Eagles ran in three tries in the opening 22 minutes for a 16-0 advantage. Shaun Johnson exploded, however, to cut the lead to just six points by halftime. The visitors skipped out to 22-10 but the Warriors again rallied to set up a grandstand finish, eventually falling just short 26-20.
9. Warriors v Sydney Roosters (2010)
In rainy, freezing conditions at Christchurch’s AMI Stadium, the Sydney Roosters led the Warriors 18-8 with five minutes to go, but a powerhouse try to Manu Vatuvei kept the Warriors hopes’ alive.
Young winger Kevin Locke had already scored a memorable first-half double, and toed a Lance Hohaia grubber kick ahead from near halfway in the final minute of play. Displaying electrifying pace, Locke narrowly won the race to the ball ahead of Roosters speedster Phil Graham and planted the ball as his torso was simultaneously bent around the goalpost.
Replays showed Locke had successfully scored the gutsy leveller, while James Maloney added the simple conversion after the siren to win a thrilling encounter 20-18. Locke’s bravery cost him two weeks in the injury ward but earned a place in club folklore.
8. Warriors v Illawarra (1996)
The fledgling Auckland Warriors already knew how hostile a venue the Wollongong Showgrounds could be, flogged 38-12 by Illawarra in their maiden premiership road trip in 1995. A similar result loomed when they trailed the Steelers 20-6 at halftime early in their ’96 campaign.
But the Warriors scored the only four tries of the second stanza – including a 50-metre sealer to former All Black Marc Ellis in the dying seconds – to carve out a 30-20 win and shock the scarlet-and-whites.
7. Warriors v Sydney Roosters (2007)
The Roosters-Warriors showdown at Allianz Stadium in 2007 is rightly regarded as one of the greatest regular-season matches of all time. But the latter stages were so eventful it’s often forgotten the Warriors clawed back from a 16-point deficit after 20 minutes to grab a two-point halftime advantage.
The Warriors made it five unanswered tries to lead 30-18 but the Roosters scored two late converted tries and a field goal to hit the front, before Michael Witt’s one-pointer sent it into golden point. The classic encounter finished 31-all after the rivals were unable to find a match-winner in extra-time.
6. Warriors v Canberra (2016)
Another thriller that ended in defeat, but nevertheless worthy of inclusion in this list thanks to the Warriors’ late heroics.
The in-form Raiders led this Round 20 clash at Canberra Stadium 22-4 with just 10 minutes to go, but a quick-fire double to Thomas Leuluai gave the Warriors a sniff. A trademark finish in the corner from David Fusitu’a brought them back to within two points and Issac Luke buried the sideline conversion on the buzzer to level the scores.
But the Warriors couldn’t complete the fairytale, with Raiders captain Jarrod Croker bagging his third try early in just the second minute of extra-time – consigning the Warriors to their third golden point loss in four outings.
5. Warriors v Canberra (1999)
The Warriors snapped a six-match losing streak in ’99 with a stunning 32-30 victory at Mount Smart over the Laurie Daley-led Raiders, recovering from a 16-point deficit during the first half.
The home side still trailed 30-18 with 12 minutes left but tries to tyros Ali Lauti’iti and Odell Manuel squared the ledger, before captain Matthew Ridge slotted a match-winning penalty goal in the dying stages.
Unfortunately, the match is predominantly remembered for the eight-match suspension meted out to Ridge for raking his hands across the face of young Raiders winger Lesley Vainikolo.
4. Warriors v Wests Tigers (2011)
Thumped 40-10 by Brisbane in the qualifying final, the Warriors were headed for a straight-sets exit when they trailed the highly-rated Wests Tigers 18-6 at halftime of the sudden-death semi-final in Sydney a week later.
But tries to Feleti Mateo and Lance Hohaia during an absorbing second stanza reeled the deficit back in to two points, before a freakish Krisnan Inu touchdown from a Shaun Johnson cross-field kick two minutes from time snatched a euphoric 22-20 victory for the Warriors.
3. Warriors v Souths (2003)
The mercurial Stacey Jones once again proved the New Zealand Warriors’ saviour, sinking South Sydney 31-30 in an epic golden point triumph midway through the 2003 NRL season.
The lowly Rabbitohs had opened up an imposing 24-6 lead early in the second half over the previous year’s grand finalists, but Jones’ try just before the hour mark opened the floodgates as the visitors ran in three more four-pointers in the space of 12 minutes to take a 30-24 lead.
South regrouped and Justin Smith converted his own try two minutes from fulltime to send the match in extra-time but Jones broke the Bunnies’ hearts with less than three minutes of golden point remaining, landing a running 35-metre field goal to clinch the win.
2. Warriors v Newcastle (2005)
The Warriors’ biggest-ever comeback came at Newcastle’s EnergyAustralia Stadium in 2005, reeling in a 20-point deficit against the Knights. The hosts led 20-0 and were still in the box-seat at 26-16 in front when their talisman Andrew Johns departed with a broken jaw 15 minutes from fulltime.
Johns’ great rival, Stacey Jones, went into overdrive to conjure three late tries for the Warriors. The final touchdown, to powerhouse winger Francis Meli, came in the final minute after a movement that originated deep inside Warriors territory, snatching an unlikely 30-26 result.
1. Warriors v Bulldogs (2001)
In Round 8 of 2001, the Bulldogs were coasting to victory against the Warriors in the first-ever match staged in Wellington, ahead 24-8 with less than six minutes to go.
Back-to-back tries from wingers Henry Fa’afili and Francis Meli gave the inscrutable Warriors a sniff, before prop Justin Morgan busted the line and sent makeshift fullback Clinton Toopi away for a 75-metre, score-levelling touchdown.
Stacey Jones missed the relatively easy conversion, but the drawn result provided the impetus for the underachieving club to qualify for its maiden finals series.
Categories: FEATURES, Top 10s + Lists
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