HELD UP: Sam Perrett (right) of the Bulldogs is tackled by Shaun Johnson of the Warriors in Auckland yesterday.
HELD UP: Sam Perrett (right) of the Bulldogs is tackled by Shaun Johnson of the Warriors in Auckland yesterday. GETTY IMAGES

Bulldogs bite back to take late victory

WELCOME to the heartbreaking world of the New Zealand Warriors.

Andrew McFadden's NRL debut as head coach of the inconsistent Kiwis, after the dramatic sacking last week of Matthew Elliott, proved a roller-coaster ride at Eden Park yesterday.

After leading 10-6 at half-time and 20-12 late in the second half, Canterbury halfback Trent Hodkinson locked up the scores at 20-all with a 75th minute penalty, before landing a field goal three minutes later to clinch a dramatic 21-20 win.

"It was hit and hope,"

Hodkinson said of his match-winner.

His perfect four from four with the boot took his season's tally to 23 from 25 kicks at goal, including a pressure conversion to level the scores after his own 70m break set up a late try for teammate Tim Lafai that proved critical to the result.

The Warriors, who controlled proceedings for much of the game, had their own shot at victory, but a field goal attempt in the 77th minute by five-eighth Thomas Leuluai sailed wide.

Captain Simon Mannering, who looked to have scored the match-winning try when he got his out-stretched fingers to a rolling ball a centimetre before it hit the dead ball line in the 57th minute, showed the strain after the defeat.

"It's pretty disappointing to let the game go after all the hard work we put in," he said.



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