New Zealand Warriors vs. Newcastle Knights: Five things we learned

Women in League round continued in Auckland as the Warriors outgunned the Knights 20 points to 4 and claimed a crucial two competition points.

The Knights travelled to Auckland on Friday night looking to claim the two points and spoil the Warriors party.  With a poor record at home, there was every chance the Knights could claim an upset and they came out of the blocks strongly, leading 4-0. It was a different story from there however, as the Warriors shut the Novocastrians out, piling on 20 unanswered points to claim a very important victory. 

  1. 1 A night for milestone men

    A big congratulations to Isaac Luke and Mitchell Pearce who both notched up their 250th NRL game in this match. As premiership winners, Luke and Pearce have had decorated representative careers, but it hasn't been smooth sailing for all 250 games. 

    Once, one of the form hookers of the game, Luke now finds himself without a home for Season 2019. Playing for a contract, Luke has had an impressive 2018, but it remains to be seen whether coach Stephen Kearney will reward that good form with a contract upgrade. 

    Pearce has been much maligned throughout his 250 games both for the Roosters and the Blues. At 29 years of age, Pearce still has a couple of seasons ahead of him and that could well see him join illustrious company in the 300 game club - a remarkable feat for the Knights marquee half. 

  2. 2 Warriors back on track

    The Warriors have provided a frustrating month of football for fans. They've lost winnable games against lowly opponents and then claimed victory in games that few gave them a chance. 

    Entering this game with a disastrous 4-5 record at home, the Warriors needed to claim two competition points to cement their spot in the top eight. They came up against a gallant Newcastle in this match but did enough to get the win and ensure they'll play finals footy in 2018. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was again impressive, racking up 338 running metres to go with his 239 metres against the Dragons last week. It wasn't the prettiest of wins for the Warriors but it was just what they needed three weeks out from the finals. 

  3. 3 Are the Warriors a top four chance?

    It seems crazy to be suggesting the Warriors can push for a top-four berth given they sat in eighth position heading into this round. After this win, the Auckland-based side sit on 28 points. That puts them just a win behind 4th placed Penrith with games against the Bulldogs, Panthers and Raiders to come. 

    With victory against the Dogs and Raiders, there's every chance that their Round 24 clash against Penrith could well decide fourth spot and a second bite at the cherry come finals. There's plenty of football to be played before then but if the Warriors can put together a good final month, there's no reason they can't make a genuine push for the four. It's a far cry from last week when they were blown off the park by the lowly Titans. 

  4. 4 A show of class for departing Cecchin

    Lead whistleblower in this game - Matt Cecchin - announced his retirement from the NRL earlier this week, calling time on a 17-year career. It's been a far from easy year for the referees and that's clearly taken its toll on Cecchin who will exit the game after officiating over 300 games. 

    There were touching scenes after the full-time siren at Mt Smart Stadium with the Warriors playing group calling Cecchin over to deliver some kind departing words. Blake Green lead the tributes and the Warriors social media team also paid respect to Cecchin thanking him for his service. It was all class from the Kiwi side and a gesture that Cecchin himself won't forget anytime soon. 

  5. 5 Can we please talk about Newcastle's jersey?

    This weekend of football celebrates the integral role that women play in the game of rugby league. Headlined by the Grand Final of the NSW women's premiership on Friday night, many of the clubs have also shown their support by donning special jerseys. 

    While the Warriors pulled on a striking purple and black number for the special occasion, the Knights opted to trade out their customary blue and red stripes for blue and pink. It was done with the best of intentions, but if there are two colours that shouldn't be seen together it's pink and blue. The pale pink stripes looked as though someone had forgotten to seperate the colours and the whites and made for tough viewing. It's great to see the Knights getting on board with Women in League round but perhaps they can opt for a different jersey design for next year's installment.

    What did you make of this game in Auckland? Let us know in the comments below. 

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