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Jittery Warriors snatch NRL round-one win

NZN 5/03/2017 Angelo Risso

Hapless Newcastle suffered their 19th-straight NRL loss as Warriors second-rower Ryan Hoffman scored a late winner for the home side in a 26-22 first-round win in Auckland.

Newcastle led early - and then late on Sunday afternoon at Mount Smart Stadium but Hoffman's 73rd-minute effort ensured a continuation of the Knights' losing streak, going back to round six of the 2016 season.

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney admitted his side, which also started poorly, was jittery at times and demonstrated some of the flakiness of years gone by.

But he was encouraged by their ability to reset and bounce back late on.

"Of course there's going to be times when we find ourselves in positions that seem similar to the past," he said.

"For me, the encouraging part is that there were times like that today but the boys managed to not dig the hole too deep, and find themselves a way out."

Newcastle looked far better value than their horrific 2016 form foreshadowed but still couldn't get the points.

Coach Nathan Brown was optimistic his side would enjoy a better campaign this time around but felt their naivety shone through at the death.

The side's mission will be made even more difficult by the projected long-term absence of fullback Dylan Phythian, who has a suspected torn ACL.

"We didn't manage it well when we got to the front, which is a learning process," Brown said.

"Anyone that watched the game today would definitely agree that many of the younger players have made great improvements."

Brown's boys got off to the best possible start in the 10th minute when centre Peter Mata'utia pinched an innocuous bomb to score, but soon fell under siege.

Warriors centre David Fusitu'a nabbed a first-half hattrick, benefiting from assists by Shaun Johnson and Tui Lolohea, while Solomone Kata also scored.

Ahead by 12, the Warriors looked likely to plough on in the second half but instead seized up, struggling to secure decent territory.

After losing Simon Mannering to a neck issue, the Knights barged over through Jack Stockwell and took the lead through a Nathan Ross double.

But they couldn't contain a determined Hoffman at the death, as the Warriors limped over the line and took the two points.

They'll face a larger challenge next week in the form of Melbourne, while the Knights will play Gold Coast at home.

"The boys showed great courage a couple of times, they could've let it drift away from them but they didn't," Kearney said.

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