Warriors weather the Storm in Rotorua

Warriors prop Bunty Afoa in Rotorua - Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

The Warriors have staved off a depleted Melbourne 20-14 in a low-key NRL pre-season match in Rotorua.

A home side missing several of their most-experienced players scored four tries to three on Saturday against the Storm, comprising personnel from reserve grade and feeder clubs.

Without their premiership-winning first-grade players - who beat Leeds 38-4 on Friday night in the World Club Challenge - Melbourne still put up a decent performance.

They opened the scoring with an exceptional team try finished by Sunshine Coast Falcons winger Matt Sopa-Lowler.

The Warriors responded through tries to centre Solomone Kata and winger David Fusitu'a to lead 10-4 at halftime. The second try set up by quick hands from Peta Hiku and Blake Ayshford.

Second-rower Ligi Sao's try, off a neat grubber from stand-in captain Mason Lino, pushed the hosts further clear.

Hooker Harry Grant and winger Ryan Papenhuyzen crossed late for Melbourne, either side of a Warriors try to Lewis Soosemea.

The match at Rotorua International Stadium gave coach Stephen Kearney a chance to field six new players. Hiku, Agnatius Paasi and Leivaha Pulu all started, while Anthony Gelling, Matiu Love-Henry and Rotorua product Hayze Perham were given time off an extended interchange bench.

The major Warriors' concern was a knee injury to Paasi in his first carry of the game. The former Gold Coast prop had strained a medial ligament and would need assessment, coach Stephen Kearney said.

Hiku, Paasi and Leivaha Pulu all started whileAnthony Gelling, Matiu Love-Henry and Rotorua Boys' High School product Hayze Perham were given time off an extended interchange bench.

The Warriors face Gold Coast in a second trial match next week on the Sunshine Coast before opening their NRL campaign on March 10 against South Sydney in Perth.


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