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Warriors hold on in nail biter

Published: 9:47PM Saturday May 12, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

The Warriors have prevailed in a NRL thriller tonight, beating the Roosters 30-26 at Mount Smart Stadium.

In a match that saw the lead change hands five times, the Warriors hung on grimly until Jacob Lillyman pulled off the hit of the season on Anthony Minichiello to nail the home side's second straight win.

With just a minute to play, the Roosters looked like they would steal the result at the death but a massive tackle left Minichiello dazed and then an incorrect play the ball from the custodian elevated the Warriors back into the top eight.

Doubles to Konrad Hurrell and Shaun Johnson inspired the win and was it the former who featured heavily in the opening 20 minutes, making one 40 metre break and then he was just held up just over the line.

His power game was a useful foil for the Warriors in a contest that was epitomised by punishing exchanges.

The much hyped clash between Dally M prospect Ben Matulino and compatriot Jared Waerea-Hargreaves didn't disappoint as both frontrowers launched into each other with violent intent.

Still, for all the fireworks, the try-scoring chances were limited early on. James Maloney's cut-out pass to Bill Tupou represented the Warriors best chance to score in the first quarter, but the delivery was off the mark.

The Roosters, when given the chance, made the Warriors pay. Although their first try to Joseph Leilua was contentious, it showed how the dangerous the visitors can be in broken play.

A bust and then chip ahead by impressive second-rower Aidan Guerra resulted in a mad dash to the line between Leilua and Alehana Mara which resulted in a photo finish as both players simultaneously put the ball down.

Sure Warriors fans could feel aggrieved that they didn't get the call, but at the end of the day the attacking side gets benefit of the doubt and rightfully so.

Two minutes later and the Roosters were in again after Guerra waltzed through some weak Warriors' goal-line defence.

Suddenly memories of the 28-12 hiding in round five were rushing back into the consciousness of all those concerned but no one told Hurrell.

The former Auckland Grammer schoolboy star, who only crossed codes after he was suspended from union for his part in the infamous Grammar-Kelston brawl, showed his enormous promise with pace and then power.

Widely touted to become a forward later in his career because of a lack of speed, Hurrell showed he could very well be a wing three-quarter.

Shown the outside by Minichiello, Hurrell took it with interest to bring the Warriors back into the game at 8-6.

With momentum well and truly behind the home side, Hurrell crashed over for his second from an inside pass from Simon Mannering, a power move which again made the NSW candidate Minichiello's defensive work look very ordinary.

The change of halves represented a change of tune. The Warriors, for all their good first half work, are notorious for nodding off and that was exactly what happened when Roosters flyer Peni Tagive reclaimed the lead for the visitors.

Enter the Johnson show. A former touch star and New Zealand Aussie Rules representative, the 22-year-old whizz kid showed off his pedigree in both sports.

In the first instance he skipped across the field in the most nonchalant manner and then with the slickest of sidesteps he was through and under the posts.

After a power try to Waerea-Hargreaves that put the Roosters ahead 20-18, Johnson's stock rose even higher when he flew up above Shaun Kenny-Dowall to score his second.

A carbon-copy try from Maloney's boot, this time to Manu Vatuvei, looked to have put the Warriors on track for the two points.

But a late try to Minichiello left the result in the balance until Lillyman delivered THAT hit.

Warriors 30 (K Hurrell 2 S Johnson 2 M Vatuvei tries J Maloney 5 goals)

Sydney Roosters 26 (A Guerra J Leilua A Minichiello T Moga J Waerea-Hargreaves tries B Anasta 3 goals)