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Warriors out, six into Nines quarters

NZN 3/02/2017 Angelo Risso and Matt Encarnacion

A Shaun Johnson-less Warriors have been bundled out on the first day of the Auckland Nines for the first time in the event's history.

The Warriors suffered successive losses to Manly and Parramatta at Eden Park on Saturday, and left the field to jeers from the home crowd.

Losing their first game 15-11 to the Sea Eagles, the Warriors then wilted under pressure against a zippy Eels outfit to concede three tries in a 17-0 defeat.

Considered a favourite for the tournament, the side were shorn of key playmaker Johnson after he suffered a groin strain during the warm-up.

"He just had a tightness in his groin area. We decided not to take the risk," assistant coach Steve McNamara said.

But while the Warriors failed to make a mark, six of eight quarter-final Nines spots have been secured.

Gold Coast, Penrith, Parramatta, Manly, Brisbane and North Queensland progress to knockout Nines clashes after perfect displays on Saturday.

Canterbury, Cronulla, St George Illawarra, Wests Tigers and Souths, meanwhile, join the Warriors in the exit queue after twice coming up empty.

The six clubs are likely to rest their NRL stars in their day-two dead rubbers.

Jarryd Hayne was a first-day hero for the Titans, who belted NRL premiers the Sharks 25-4 in the tournament opener before accounting for the Bulldogs 17-10.

Penrith recruit James Tamou starred with two tries in the 25-18 win over Canterbury before his second-string side went on to shock the Sharks 16-14.

Cowboys youngsters Gideon Gela-Mosby and Kalyn Ponga also lit up Eden Park with eye-catching efforts, with the former bagging three tries in the 27-15 win over the Roosters.

The pair then stood out again as the 2015 Premiers thrashed the Raiders 35-6, scoring two tries apiece.

Brisbane, who quelled the Storm in their first game, which they won 18-4, became the fifth team into the knockout stages with an impressive 21-8 win over Newcastle.

The Eels, who were stripped of last year's nines title for salary cap breaches in the NRL, took a step towards a legitimate crown with big wins over the Dragons and Warriors.

Halves Corey Norman and Clint Gutherson impressed for Parramatta in the straightforward victories - 32-11 against the Red V and 17-0 against the hosts, while Manly defeated the same opponents despite their inexperienced squad.

"It was really important to come here, start off how we ended it last year, and we did that," Eels fullback Bevan French said.

On a sour note, Rabbitohs centre Aaron Gray is likely to miss round one of the NRL after injuring medial ligaments during the 15-12 loss to Canberra.

St George Illawarra duo Matt Dufty (knee) and Patrick Herbert (foot) also had problems, while Broncos gun Benji Marshall cut his mouth open in the side's win over Melbourne.

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