The Warriors comfortably beat a North Queensland side missing their Origin stars 35-18 at Mt Smart Stadium in Round 17.
The home side broke to a lightning start, with Shaun Johnson busting through a tackle after just three minutes to put Ben Henry away between the posts. Barely five minutes later they were in again as quick hands out wide enabled Konrad Hurrell to get on the outside of his man and score in the corner for a 10-0 lead. And it was 16-0 after just 13 minutes when a James Maloney bomb was grabbed out of Matt Bowen’s arms by Kevin Locke for Henry to grab his second of the afternoon.
That try seemed to wake North Queensland from their slumber and they finally crossed for their first try when Kane Linnett hit the line at speed to burst through and score.
Their momentum was quickly halted when a Feleti Mateo short ball saw Jacob Lillyman stroll over next to the sticks, but the visitors made sure they weren’t out of the contest at halftime with a bullet pass from Bowen sending Ashley Graham across to make it 22-12 at the break.
The Warriors have struggled to defend leads in 2012 and they again looked shaky when Joel Riethmuller combined with Michael Morgan for Gavin Cooper to score and close the gap to just four points with 28 minutes remaining.
But there would be no collapse this time as repeat sets on the try-line eventually took their toll and Nathan Friend darted out of dummy-half to make it 28-18.
And it was all over a few minutes later when Johnson broke clear – Bowen’s superb cover tackle in vain as Lewis Brown pushed his way over from dummy-half on the very next play. James Maloney then capped the win with a late field goal.
The Warriors made 11 line-breaks to North Queensland’s four across the 80 minutes and ran for an impressive 1653 metres, with prop Ben Matulino’s 177 metres from 21 runs a standout.
Gavin Cooper made 41 tackle for the visitors.