The Mounties have consolidated their lead at the top of the Intrust Super Premiership ladder with a hard fought 32-22 win against the third placed New Zealand Warriors.
Paul Vaughan was a late inclusion for the Mounties while Croker was named at hooker for Adam Clydsdale, who was called up to first grade.
The Mounties didn’t waste any time and took the lead in the second minute via Kato Ottio. A Sam Williams kick rebounded off a Warriors player before being regathered by Lachlan Croker. Croker then kicked a grubber for Brenko Lee, who passed to his outside to send Ottio over the line.
Alofi Mataele stormed down the touchline to score another try for the Mounties, but Sam Williams missed both conversions in windy conditions.
Warriors fullback Nicoll-Klokstad ensured the New Zealand-based side hit back with an angled run against the sliding defence of the Mounties. Halfback, Lino, easily kicked the conversion to narrow the Mounties lead to two points.
The Mounties were dealt a blow in the 32nd minute of the game when Croker had to be carried off the field after a tackle from Lino. With Clydsdale called up to first grade, Williams was left as the sole playmaker in the side.
However, the setback only spurred the Mounties who scored again down the right edge. Running the ball out of defence, Ottio broke the Warriors line to sprint the length of the field. With only the fullback to beat, the winger passed to Brenko Lee, who scored. Faced with an easier conversion, Williams sent the Steeden through the posts to add an extra two points.
The Warriors kept themselves within touching distance when Nicoll-Klokstad scored his second try on the verge of halftime. The fullback gathered Allwood’s offload to score underneath the posts.
Brett Naden scored early in the second half to help the Mounties maintain the ascendency. The centre escaped a tackle ten meters out from the line to score.
The Warriors showed why they are third on the Intrust Super Premiership ladder with their third try of the afternoon. Tyrell took advantage of broken play to score on the left edge. Lino converted the try to narrow the margin to two points once again.
The teams continued trading blows with the Mounties scoring through Clay Priest. The Warriors were hesitant to smother a Sam Williams grubber next to the right post which allowed Priest to ground the ball for a try. The halfback added the extra two points with a simple conversion.
Nicoll-Klokstad scored his third of the afternoon to reduce the Warriors deficit to four points with five minutes to go, but Paul Vaughan secured the win for the Mounties when he barged over the line with a minute remaining.
Mounties 32 (Tries: Ottio, Mateale, Lee, Naden, Priest, Vaughan Conversions: Williams 4/6) defeated Warriors 22 (Tries: Nicoll-Klokstad 3, Tyrell Conversions: Lino 3/4)