Having Australian clubs consistently take their home games against the Warriors to other centres around New Zealand, or as was the case last night relocating their own fixtures to sold-out grounds in new regions, should be a massive advantage for the Auckland-based club – from a promotional standpoint and results-wise.
On the latter count, it’s proved anything but.
Brace yourself for this stat: the Warriors have played 33 games at New Zealand venues other than Mt Smart (18 as the official away team) and have come away with a record of nine wins, one draw and 23 losses.
That’s a win percentage of 28.78 – around half of the Warriors’ Mt Smart strike-rate of 56.97 percent, and well below their all-time win percentage at all venues of 45 percent.
It’s even significantly down on the club’s proportion of victories in matches in Australia since 1995 of 35.99 percent, which took a battering during the past three seasons jettisoned across the Tasman by COVID (20 wins in 64 matches).
Saturday’s disappointing 26-22 loss to an Origin-depleted Brisbane Broncos line-up continued an even more disturbing trend of the Warriors losing their first game at alternate New Zealand venues.
Lancaster Park, Christchurch (1996)
A crowd of 10,000 turned out in wintry conditions for the maiden premiership match to be played in the South Island, but the majority left disappointed after Balmain (then known as Sydney Tigers) upset Warriors 34-22 at rugby union bastion Lancaster Park. The Tigers powered out to a 26-6 halftime lead, with centre Mike Dorreen – a Canterbury (NZ) stalwart and a foundation Warrior a year earlier – playing a leading hand in two tries. After losses to Wests Tigers in 2004-05 at the ground, the Warriors picked up victories there against the Tigers in 2006 and the Roosters in a famous 2010 finish to improve to 2-3, before the hallowed venue was rendered unusable by the 2011 earthquakes.
Overall record: Played 5 – won 2, lost 3
Westpac Stadium, Wellington (2001)
Only the Warriors’ second premiership match to be taken on the road, ‘The Cake Tin’ played host to one of the club’s most memorable regular-season matches. Down 24-8 to the Bulldogs with six minutes left, the Warriors ran in three late long-range tries to level it up…only for Stacey Jones to shank a very gettable conversion after the siren. The drawn result was the best the Warriors would manage in their first six games in Wellington, finally breaking the drought in 2014 against Wests Tigers with Glen Fisiiahi scoring four tries. The Warriors are currently on a three-match winning streak in the capital at was is now known as Sky Stadium.
Overall record: Played 11 – won 4, lost 6, drew 1
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton (2005)
Parramatta took its 2005 home game against the Warriors to the ’Tron and it paid dividends, carving out a 28-18 win in front of 17,392 fans. A flurry of tries late in the first half carried the Eels to a 22-14 lead and they held on in a dour second stanza. The Eels repeated the dose at Waikato Stadium in 2006 (22-14), while the Bulldogs won a 2014 thriller (16-12) and the Dragons easily put away a dreadful Warriors side in 2017 (30-14). Worryingly, Wests Tigers are bringing their Round 24 game against the Warriors to Hamilton.
Overall record: Played 4 – lost 4
Eden Park, Auckland (2011)
A crowd of 38,412 turned out at the first top-level rugby league match at union headquarters since the 1988 World Cup final, but Parramatta spoiled the Round 1 party with a 24-18 win over the Warriors. A bumbling debut from Glen Fisiiahi was a key feature of ‘The Battle of Eden’, while only two late tries added some respectability to the scoreboard for the hosts. A grand final rematch against Manly in their 2012 season opener was top-shelf but brought more heartache, as did a nail-biter against James Maloney, SBW and the Roosters in early-2013, and a meek defeat to the Dragons and a late field goal from Bulldogs half Trent Hodkinson in Andrew McFadden’s first game as head coach, both in 2014. Four weeks later, the Warriors broke their Eden Park duck with a blistering 54-12 rout of Canberra but they have not played their since.
Overall record: Played 6 – won 1, lost 5
Owen Delaney Park, Taupo (2011)
The only alternate New Zealand venue where the Warriors have a winning record and won their inaugural fixture. Glen Fisiiahi featured once again, scoring two sizzling tries from fullback as the Warriors thwarted ‘home’ side Cronulla 26-18 at postcard-worthy Owen Delaney Park in Taupo.
Overall record: Played 1 – won 1
Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth (2016)
The Warriors took a game to the ’Naki in 2016 and shat the bed big time, crashing to a 38-12 loss to Canberra at Yarrow Stadium that had to rank among the most insipid, error-strewn performances of Andrew McFadden’s tenure. Blake Ayshford falling over and getting falconed by a pass for the Raiders to race away for a try summed it up. Nevertheless, the road trip provided a stirring post-match moment as a section of the crow performed a haka for Hāwera-born Issac Luke.
Overall record: Played 1 – lost 1
Rugby League Park, Christchurch (2016)
Better known as Addington Show Grounds by locals, the spiritual home of rugby league in Canterbury (and since the earthquakes, the city’s premier stadium) hosted Penrith’s 2016 home game against the Warriors. The rising Panthers were far too good, with utility Tyrone Peachey scoring a hat-trick in a 30-18 win. The Panthers reneged on their deal to bring subsequent matches to Christchurch, but Manly stepped into the breach in 2018-19 – a 34-14 win for the Warriors in the former with David Fusitu’a blazing in for three tries and an atrocious 46-12 loss in the latter.
Overall record: Played 3 – won 1, lost 2
Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin (2017)
The southernmost match in premiership history was played early in the 2017 season as two battlers, surrogate host Canterbury and the Warriors under new coach Stephen Kearney, produced an ordinary spectacle in front of a disappointing 10,238-strong crowd under the roof in Dunedin. Canterbury cruised to a 24-12 win in a match that was notable for being a tryscoring NRL debut for Bulldogs winger Marcelo Montoya and the last match in Warriors legend Manu Vatuvei’s career.
Overall record: Played 1 – lost 1
McLean Park, Napier (2023)
The Warriors’ Kiwi roadshow of woe continued when they produced their worst performance of the glittering early months of Andrew Webster’s tenure at a packed McLean Park in Napier. A slew of missed tryscoring opportunities and costly errors saw the Warriors trail a Brisbane side missing five Origin players 12-6 at halftime and 26-10 with less than 10 minutes left. A furious late comeback almost levelled the scores in the dying seconds, but a penalty against Adam Pompey for obstructing a defender saw a try overturned as the Broncos held on for a deserved 26-22 win.
Overall record: Played 1 – lost 1