Warriors down under-strength Broncos
The Warriors have ended the Broncos' four-game winning streak, out-gritting Brisbane to win 19-10 on a chilly Saturday night at Mount Smart Stadium.
Relentless defence was the key to victory, as the Warriors survived prolonged periods backed up against their own line.
In recording their seventh victory of the season, the New Zealanders became the first team in four games to post more than 14 points against a tough and frugal Broncos defence.
But on a night where the Warriors unsuccessfully tried to break the world record for the ‘largest gathering of people wearing one-piece pyjamas’, it was the players themselves who started the match like they were ready for bed.
Inside the opening 10 minutes the home side twice blew chances to scores tries and made a string of errors which piled on the pressure.
On 16 minutes their mistakes finally caught up with them; winger David Fusitu’a dropping a Brisbane bomb and hooker Jack Granville scoring on the ensuing set.
Called up to replace the injured Andrew McCullough, Granville showed plenty of pace in taking advantage of a retreating Warriors defence to put the Broncos up 6-0 after Ben Hunt’s conversion.
With almost half an hour already on the clock the Warriors finally produced some smart football.
In his first game back from injury, Ben Henry split the line, drew Ben Barba with a dummy and went in next to the posts. The Warriors pulled even at 6-6 despite a less-than-convincing conversion attempt from Shaun Johnson, which scraped a post on its way over.
Now experiencing their first period of dominance in the game, the home side forced a repeat set six minutes later, eventually scoring via a classic Konrad Hurrell bulldozing run over the top of a helpless Jack Reed.
A 40-metre Johnson field goal with seconds left on the clock sent the Warriors into the sheds with a 13-6 lead.
After playing the first 40 minutes without conceding a single penalty, the Warriors started the half with back-to-back infringements, one of which saw prop Suaia Matagi go on report for a late hit on Josh Hoffman as the Brisbane five-eighth hoisted a bomb.
Poor discipline was putting the home side under pressure once again, and after Ngani Laumape was put on report for a lifting tackle on Josh McGuire, the Warriors were fortunate not to be punished by consecutive Broncos sets.
With 20 minutes to go and the game in somewhat of a holding pattern, a Reed offload set Ben Barba free down the field with only fullback Sam Tomkins to beat.
A strong fend allowed him to escape the grasp on the Englishman and score, but with Ben Hunt missing the conversion the Broncs still trailed 13-10.
Not to be outdone in the creativity department, Warriors lock Sebastine Ikahihifo produced a classy offload to put Laumape in space, who drew Barba and passed for Chad Townsend to run it in under the posts for a 19-10 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
After losing Matt Gillett to a shoulder injury after only 12 minutes, and with Sam Thaiday backing up from Wednesday’s State of Origin match, the Broncos looked out on their feet.
The Warriors shut up shop in the final 10, going on to record a 19-10 win and climb a step closer to the NRL top eight.
The win also sets the Warriors up well for a mid-season run, with their next two games against the Panthers and Eels both on home turf.
Warriors 19 (Henry, Hurrell, Townsend tries; Johnson 3 goals; Johnson field goal) defeated Broncos 10 (Granville, Barba tries; Hunt goal). Crowd: 16,025.