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Sorry Warriors exit nines without a win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/02/2017 Matt Encarnacion

In what could possibly be the final nines tournament in Auckland, traditional heavyweights the Warriors have bowed out of their home event without a win.

Drawcard Shaun Johnson was again a no-show as the NRL club opted to rest their star halfback following his groin strain in the warm-up of their opener on Saturday.

The home side looked set to claim a dead rubber win against St George Illawarra on Sunday, but were brought undone by a last-gasp try to Kurt Mann on the buzzer to finish 14-10 losers.

Warriors legend Ruben Wiki, who came out of retirement to feature in the nines, defended the club's decision to field a vastly inexperienced squad on home soil.

It was the club's worst performance in the four-year history of the event.

"These guys could be my sons. They're just coming out of school," he said.

"I think they'll take something out of this and hopefully get better come the pre-season games."

Penrith will meet Manly in the first quarter-final after topping Gold Coast 22-4 to finish their group undefeated, while Parramatta also progressed with a perfect record.

The Eels beat the Sea Eagles 17-12 to book a date with former teammate Jarryd Hayne and the Titans, however Hayne is unlikely to play after suffering a knee injury on day one.

The injury isn't considered to be serious.

Earlier, Canterbury star Josh Reynolds defended the club's decision not to play both him and David Klemmer on day one of the nines.

After crashing out of finals contention with two group losses on Saturday, nines captain Reynolds and Klemmer finally made their first appearance in a dead rubber on Sunday.

But their return failed to prevent the Bulldogs crashing to a 28-4 loss to Cronulla, with Reynolds later explaining why he was a scratching the day prior.

"I think it's a good opportunity for the young guys to have a game. We're obviously going to play in the NRL week to week and the young guys, sometimes it's hard for them," Reynolds told AAP.

"I know where the fans are coming from in some ways. You don't want to lose in any game. But Des is the boss and whatever he says goes."

The Bulldogs and Sharks fly home later on Sunday.

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