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Knights shattered after ‘miraculous’ act

The New Zealand Warriors are incredibly still in finals contention with just four weeks left in the NRL season after a startling 36-6 win over the Newcastle Knights.The win was the Warriors’ first win over a top eight side this season and also their biggest, while it was the Knights’ biggest loss of the season.Kayo…

The New Zealand Warriors are incredibly still in finals contention with just four weeks left in the NRL season after a startling 36-6 win over the Newcastle Knights.

The win was the Warriors’ first win over a top eight side this season and also their biggest, while it was the Knights’ biggest loss of the season.

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But while it’s the fact that has been continually brought up throughout the season, the Warriors have been playing away from home all season with the match taken to Tamworth to thank the local community.

The Warriors were housed in Tamworth after arriving in Australia for the pre-season and were embraced by the local community.

After coach Stephen Kearney was sacked with Todd Payten taking over as coach in round 6, the side have claimed five wins, including four of the last five matches.

Before the Sharks and Cowboys game, it saw New Zealand just two points out of the top eight.

Payten, who sensationally revealed he had rejected the Warriors head coaching offer before the club signed Nathan Brown, admitted the side hadn’t spoken about the possibility of finals.

“There’s a good feeling around the place at the moment. There’s certainly some confidence and some belief, and that’s a pretty lethal combination,” Payten said.

“I see the connection within the group at the moment. All the families are spending a lot of time together.

“You can see the way they’re playing and the enjoyment they’re having with each other.”

But his performance as coach has the NRL world wanting Payten to get a shot at one of the vacant coaching positions.

Positions are still vacant at the Dragons, Broncos and Cowboys after five NRL coaches have been sacked in 2020.

Rugby league great Mark Geyer was one of them.

“Surely Todd Payten gets the Cowboys gig? What he’s done with the Warriors is nothing short of miraculous,” he tweeted.

AAP sports journalist Pam Whaley tweeted: “Have you ever seen a better audition for an NRL coaching gig than what Todd Payten is giving us right now? The man management alone is extraordinary”, to which her colleague Ed Jackson replied “Should be firmly on the radar of those clubs looking for a new coach. I get why he and the warriors won’t be a thing post 2021 but it’s sad. He’s done a cracking job.”

Former NRL star Joel Caine added: “If I’m TODD PAYTEN’s Manager ‘Righto guys, you have seen enough. Todd is signing as a Head Coach today, Dragons you write your number down, Cowboys & Broncos likewise, For the Highest bidder he’ll see you in October’.”

The Warriors scored first and held an 8-6 lead at the break against the Knights but the second half was all one way traffic as the side piled on five second half tries to leave Newcastle in shock.

Knights captain Mitchell Pearce was furious about his side’s performance after full-time.

“It was terrible. We weren’t there from the start of the game,” Pearce told Fox League.

“Plenty of errors and poor defence. We got what we deserved that second half.”

Coach Adam O’Brien then added that “It’s quite embarrassing as a club to have that” admitting there would be plenty of soul searching before next week’s match against the Sharks on Friday.

The in-form Warriors will take on the out-of-form Eels on Sunday afternoon in what should be an intriguing clash.

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