Kearney rates win over Dragons among best of career


He has won a World Cup with the Kiwis and enjoyed success at NRL level in Melbourne, but Warriors coach Stephen Kearney rates Friday's win over the Dragons as one of his finest moments.

St George Illawarra's unbeaten start to the Telstra Premiership was snapped 20-12 by the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland.

The Warriors were without star playmaker Shaun Johnson, centre Solomone Kata and lost key forward Tohu Harris to concussion in the first half.

The home team finished with just 38 per cent of possession, were on the wrong end of a 13-5 penalty count and had a player sin-binned.

All things considering, Kearney says the win is ''way up there'' in terms of his best moment at the helm.

''They showed a tremendous amount of courage tonight with all the adversity against a top of the table team,'' he said.

''The guys found a way to keep the side with the best attack in the competition out - with 12 men at one point - so I was just so proud of how they went about their work.

''We spoke last week about commitment and attitude needing to improve and I thought they did that tonight.

''Honestly this win is right up there for me, way up there. With the changes and a player in the bin and playing the best team in the competition ... I'm just really proud of the guys.''

Warriors back-rower Tohu Harris reels out of the tackle that ended his night against the Dragons.
Warriors back-rower Tohu Harris reels out of the tackle that ended his night against the Dragons. ©Shane Wenzlick/NRL Photos

It was clear when the final whistle blew how much the win meant to the Warriors.

Senior players Adam Blair, Isaac Luke and captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck were elated with the performance and took time to interact and celebrate with some of the 18,000-plus fans who braved chilly conditions to see the home team's sixth win in seven games.

''We are playing in front of our home crowed and we want to show them what we are about so that's what all that's about for us and why there was some extra emotion in getting a result like that,'' Kearney said.

The Warriors have a short five-day turnaround now as they prepare to face the Storm in Melbourne in Wednesday's annual ANZAC clash.

Kearney was unsure if Johnson would be fit for the match but was pleased with the performance of replacement halfback Mason Lino, who scored the opening try of the match and kicked three from four goals.