The Warriors were originally scheduled to host Sydney Roosters this Saturday in a Round 6 encounter. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic means we are at least six weeks from seeing our team back on the field, while Mt Smart Stadium will almost certainly see no football in 2020.
But there’s no restrictions on reminiscing, so TWL is marking 10 years since one of the most memorable of all Warriors-Roosters clashes.
A bumper crowd of 20,271 – a Christchurch record for a rugby league match – defied the rainy, freezing conditions at the old Lancaster Park in Round 16 of the 2010 premiership to witness an absolute thriller.
Towards the end of a seesawing encounter, the sixth-placed Roosters appeared certain to overwhelm the 10th-placed Warriors, leading 18-8 with five minutes to go. But a trademark powerhouse try down a narrow corridor to Manu Vatuvei kept the Warriors’ hopes alive, cutting the deficit to four points.
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 as the Warriors rolled the dice one last time.
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 in a punishing collision.
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.
“He only had eyes for the ball,” coach Ivan Cleary marvelled post-match.
“It was just set up, wasn’t it, as one of those moments? The last play of the game, goalposts in the way and he was only thinking about the football.
“You’ve got to love it when the players play like that.”
Locke’s bravery cost him two weeks in the injury ward, but earned a place in club folklore.
Kevin Locke puts his body on the line ploughing into the goalposts to score the match-winner against the Roosters in Christchurch 💪@ChemistWhouse bringing you 25 Warrior Moments from across our 25-season history #WeAreWarriors pic.twitter.com/23AxfiyGxv
— Vodafone Warriors (@NZWarriors) April 10, 2019
In his 2014 book The Book of NRL Lists (co-authored with Nick Tedeschi), TWL‘s Will Evans rated the buzzer-beating effort at No.7 in the list of ‘Regular Season Miracle Finishes’.