LESS than a week after stunning premiers Manly at Brookvale Oval, the Warriors came crashing back to earth on home soil after being demolished by a rampant Brisbane outfit 26-10 to end their unbeaten start to the year.
The Broncos took the lead after 12 minutes and never looked back, at one stage finding themselves up 26-0 before two late tries from the home side gave the score some respectability.
It was a bad night all-round for the Warriors with star centre Brent Tate ruled out for the rest of the season with his second serious knee injury in three years.
But while he won’t be picking himself back up off the canvas in 2009, the Warriors will need to improve rapidly after failing to live up to their newfound billing as premiership favourites against a well-oiled Broncos outfit.
Tries to Joel Clinton, Steve Michaels and Israel Folau gave the visitors a 16-0 lead at the half-time break before Darren Lockyer stepped up to put the result beyond doubt before the second half had even reached its halfway point.
It took a Simon Mannering try in the 57th minute to finally break the Warriors’ duck and they added another through youngster Ukuma Ta’ai 13 minutes later – but they were never going to perform another Houdini act this time around.
The result leaves Brisbane as the only undefeated side after three rounds, having slipped under many an expert’s radar during the pre-season.
The Game Swung When… Peter Wallace decided to impose himself in the 12th minute.
The former NSW Origin halfback laid on the opening try for Joel Clinton with a grubber and sent Steve Michaels over for the second with a stunning pass to have the home side on the back foot early.
It all went downhill from there for the Warriors, with Brent Tate limping off injured and Joel Moon then penalised for a double movement just seconds before Brisbane went 100 metres to score their third.
Who Was Hot… Both of Brisbane’s halves were again superb, with Peter Wallace the dominant force in the first half and Darren Lockyer producing some typical magic in the second.
Props Joel Clinton, Sam Thaiday and Dave Taylor were also dynamic and laid a solid platform for the smaller men to run amok.
Who Was Not… Having orchestrated their side’s upset win over Manly last week, Warriors halves Stacey Jones, Nathan Fien and Joel Moon offered little to trouble the Broncos with Moon particularly quiet against his former club.
Had To Be Seen To Be Believed… Brisbane scored not one, not two but three tries from absolutely stunning passes.
The first – surely the best of the lot – saw Wallace fire a ball out for Steve Michaels to score, the second from Lockyer sent rookie Alex Glenn away and the third came from the unlikely source of Ashton Sims who held the ball up perfectly before putting Lockyer through for the try.
Injuries… Brent Tate (Warriors) – knee, season.
Bad Boys… No dramas here.
Ref Watch… Warriors lock Micheal Luck was left fuming by a penalty awarded by referee Jason Robinson for a hit on the kicker, but the ledger was squared later on… and the Warriors were never in the hunt anyway.
NRL.com Best & Fairest… 3 points – Peter Wallace (Broncos): Set the tone for the Broncos early, setting up two tries for their 12-0 lead; 2 points – Joel Clinton (Broncos): Ran hard at the Warriors’ forwards all night, ending up with a try and 110 metres; 1 point – Darren Lockyer (Broncos): Was all class in the second half, setting up one try and scoring another.
Broncos 26 (J Clinton, S Michaels, I Folau, A Glenn, D Lockyer tries; C Parker 3 goals) def Warriors 10 (S Mannering, U Ta’ai tries; D Kemp goal) at Mt Smart Stadium. Crowd: 24,350.