Warriors put up a fight but fall to defending champion Panthers

The Warriors have fallen to a hard-fought 18-6 loss to the defending champion Penrith Panthers in a bruising NRL clash.

During the Magic Round in Brisbane, the Warriors made a promising start to nail the first points on the board but eventually succumbed to their third straight defeat.

The Warriors dominated the opening stages and were rewarded when prop Addin Fonua-Blake crossed in the 10th minute after halfback Shaun Johnson combined with lock Tohu Harris.

The try followed a break by Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who was stopped short of the tryline on the previous tackle by Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards and centre Sunia Turuva.

The Panthers targeted the Warriors' left side, where Kosi was defending, in consecutive sets after centre Adam Pompey spilled a kick near his own line and infringements by Bunty Afoa and Marata Niukore.

The pressure eventually took its toll when Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards stepped his way across the tryline in the 20th minute off a Nathan Cleary pass.

The Panthers matched the Warriors in the physicality stakes, with a brutal shot by Crichton jolting the ball loose from Dylan Walker, who returned serve when he and Fonua-Blake combined to perform a heavy tackle on Zac Hosking.

The Warriors lost winger Ed Kosi, second-rower Jackson Ford and prop Bunty Afoa to injuries during the match and twice had to play with a man in the sin-bin but the game wasn't decided until Spencer Leniu scored in the 75th minute.

The class of Cleary proved the difference, with the Kangaroos halfback running 129 metres with the ball, having a hand in two of Penrith's three tries and maintaining pressure on the Warriors defence with his kicking game.


Dallin Watene-Zelezniak of the Warriors. One New Zealand Warriors v Penrith Panthers, Round 10 (Magic Round) of the NRL Premiership Rugby League match at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia on Saturday 6 May 2023. Photo: Matt Roberts / NRL Photos Photo: © NRL Photos 2023