Adam Keighran had a stellar debut for the Warriors, scoring a try and kicking six goals. Picture: Getty Images
Adam Keighran had a stellar debut for the Warriors, scoring a try and kicking six goals. Picture: Getty Images

Young Warrior gun’s dream debut torches shocking Dogs

ON A day of heartache in New Zealand, the Warriors produced an emotion-charged victory on Saturday to raise the spirits of a broken nation.

The packed house inside Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium  took part in a minute's silence before kick-off, paying tribute to the 49 victims of the shocking terror attack at a Christchurch mosque.

Players wrote messages of support on their strapping and the Warriors opened the gates for free.

And on the field, they put on a show that applied the blowtorch to the Canterbury's 2019 campaign with a bruising 40-6 win - and in the process unearthed a halves pairing that can take the Warriors into the post-Shaun Johnson era.

Canterbury finished 2018 with a burst to avoid the wooden spoon and would've hoped to build on that strong run.

But those dreams faded quickly in Auckland as they fell behind 22-0 by half-time on the back of a brilliant showing by the new Warriors halves pairing of Blake Green and debutant Adam Keighran.

The Warriors observe a minute's silence for the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings. Picture: Getty
The Warriors observe a minute's silence for the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings. Picture: Getty

Things didn't pick up after the break as Warriors put the foot down with three second-half tries to close out the humiliating mauling. which secured their biggest win against the Bulldogs and their best round-one points haul.

The Warriors made the boldest call in the history of their franchise when they cut ties with superstar halfback Johnson in the off-season.

The belief was that the flashy playmaker had taken them as far as he could, and in order to take the club to the next level they needed to step away from one of the most recognisable faces in the game.

 

Peta Hiku of the Warriors is congratulated on his try by debutant Adam Keighran. Picture: Getty
Peta Hiku of the Warriors is congratulated on his try by debutant Adam Keighran. Picture: Getty

It had the potential to go belly-up, but Green and Keighran gave hope that they've made the right call.

Green laid on the opening two Warriors' tries with pinpoint kicks, but it was Keighran's brilliant debut that would've raised the spirit of fans.

On the half-hour mark, the 21-year-old scored a stunning solo as he waltzed through the Bulldogs' defensive line and announced himself as Johnson's heir apparent - before finishing with a haul of 16 points, including 6/7 with the boot.

He looked like he belongs at the top level.

New year, same problems: Bulldogs head coach Dean Pay watched on as his team missed 29 tackles in a round-one thrashing. Picture: Getty
New year, same problems: Bulldogs head coach Dean Pay watched on as his team missed 29 tackles in a round-one thrashing. Picture: Getty

Dean Pay looked a defeated man as the camera panned up to the coach's box midway through the first half - and it looks like 2019 will be just as painful as 2018 was for the young coach.

A second-half downfield kick, which bounced up awkwardly and into the knee of fullback Will Hopoate and into touch, summed up the day for the Bulldogs.

They missed a staggering 29 tackles, conceded seven tries to one and were outrun by nearly 500m by the Warriors.

Nothing went right.

And there are huge questions marks over the quality of the back five, with centre-wing pairing Kerrod Holland and Christian Crichton outclassed by opponents Solomone Kata (two tries) and David Fusitua.

The Warriors are now Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s team. Picture: Getty
The Warriors are now Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s team. Picture: Getty

Backing up a Dally M win is no easy task.

But Roger Tuivasa-Sheck gave fans a reminder of his class shortly after half-time.

He showed off that dazzling footwork and produced a stunning show-and-go to capitalise on a horror defensive read from Bulldogs No.6 Lachlan Lewis and slide over for his first try of the season.

With Johnson gone, and Simon Mannering retiring, there's no doubt this is now RTS' team.

The Bulldogs' highest-profile off-season recruit had a rough off-season as he was dragged into a sex tape controversy.

Dylan Napa vowed to repay his club on the field - but fell short of that for much of his first outing for the blue and whites.

Replacing the hard-headed David Klemmer, Napa finished with nine runs for 100 metres, though half of them came in the final 15 minutes when the game was long gone.

News Corp Australia


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