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Smith praises injury-hit Warriors after big upset over Penrith


NRL great Cameron Smith has applauded the New Zealand Warriors following their shock victory over the Penrith Panthers at Magic Round yesterday.

The injury-hit Warriors walked away 22-20 winners in one of the biggest upsets of the season, ending a five-game winless streak that began with their draw against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Round 6.

The Warriors were without regular starters Shaun Johnson, Tohu Harris, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Kurt Capewell, Luke Metcalf, Marata Niukore, and Rocco Berry forcing largely untested rookies to play bigger minutes than initially predicted.

New Zealand also lost Wayde Egan after 12 minutes to a Category 1 concussion, while Jackson Ford and Marcelo Montoya spent time off undergoing head injury assessments before passing and returning.

Smith said the Warriors played extremely well to get the win considering their injury toll, and the atmosphere was enormous.

“I think they played an extremely tough brand of footy and were very resilient,” Smith told Breakfast with Vossy & Brandy.

“The Warriors had to fight hard. They were missing a few of their stars… and to get the win the way they did, they had to come from behind, and to win it by two points was fantastic.

“My goodness, the noise from the crowd… that was as big as any finals game I’ve been at, getting close to sort of origin-like. It was loud, so that was a wonderful moment for the weekend.

Despite their shock loss, Smith isn’t concerned about a drop in-form for the Penrith Panthers.

“There are high standards around Penrith… most weeks we expect them to be faultless… at the end of the day, they’re human beings. They’re a footy side who can have an off week,” Smith commented.

“There’s no doubt there’s been some change the club, they’ve lost some quality individuals, that’s always going to have an impact.

“I think it might just be a blip on the radar. That’s taking nothing away from the Warriors… to be able to get up against a Panthers’ team… was pretty special but I’m not reading too much into that loss.”

Penrith were without star Nathan Cleary, who is out for roughly seven more weeks with a hamstring injury.

The Warriors return to New Zealand to take on The Dolphins this Sunday.

Rugby League New Zealand Warriors Penrith Panthers

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