Entertaining Warriors down Storm
The Warriors combined gutsy defence with some sheer attacking brilliance to down the Storm 26-14 in Auckland on Sunday afternoon.
Among the five tries scored by the home side were a couple of contenders for try of the year, but their efforts on the other side of the ball proved just as crucial.
In front of 17,278 at Mt Smart Stadium - their biggest home crowd of the year - the Warriors' right side was on fire for the second-consecutive game, setting up four of the team's five tries.
Without frontline stars Manu Vatuvei, Ryan Hoffman and Konrad Hurrell, the makeshift Warriors' side were staunch on defence, holding their opponents up over the line twice and producing numerous goal line stands.
It was all the hosts in the early exchanges, scoring three times down their right side in the first half with Shaun Johnson converting twice.
On 11 minutes some nice footwork from David Fusitu'a turned Marika Koroibete inside out, before the ball went wide to Tuimoala Lolohea who strolled in.
Five minutes later the Warriors were producing a big effort at the opposite end of the field, rallying in numbers to hold Richie Kennar up over the line.
Tries to David Fusitu'a, who finished with an athletic dive in the right corner, and then Bodene Thompson off a Shaun Johnson short ball, took the lead out to 16-0 at the break.
Just three minutes into the second half a sublime banana kick from Cooper Cronk - playing his first Telstra Premiership game since Round 13 due to injury - landed right on the chest of Koroibete, who fell over the line for the Storm's first points.
By the 55th minute the Warriors' error count was up to 11 and possession was evening up.
That was the invite Melbourne had been waiting for, quickly turning it into points via Kenny Bromwich who ran over Lolohea to cross out wide.
With captain Cameron Smith off target again from the boot the score sat at 16-8 heading into the final 20 minutes.
Just as the momentum was starting to shift the Warriors received a piggy-back penalty down field and turned it into an incredible try.
A cross-field kick from Chad Townsend was collected in mid-air by Nathan Friend, who in the process of summersaulting forward released the ball through his legs to Sam Tomkins.
From there Tomkins found Johnson, before a flick-pass back to Tomkins was shifted through Fusitu'a to Lolohea, who finished brilliantly between the sideline and three Storm defenders for his second four-pointer of the day.
The drama kept coming when minutes later Kenny Bromwich ensured Lolohea wasn't the only man on the park with a double, and Smith added the extras to reduce the deficit to six.
But as he has done so many times in his NRL career to date Johnson was the man to seal the deal for the Warriors, with a brilliant individual try which saw him step Smith with ease and then beat a diving Cameron Munster.
The 2014 Golden Boot added the extras to make it 26-14, where the score remained.
In winning for the sixth time in their last eight games the Warriors consolidate their spot in the top eight and regain the Michael Moore Trophy, while the Storm head back to Melbourne with four consecutive losses.
Warriors 28 (Tuimoala Lolohea 2, David Fusitu'a, Bodene Thompson, Shaun Johnson tries; Shaun Johnson 4 goals) def. Melbourne Storm 14 (Marika Koroibete, Kenny Bromwich 2 tries; Cameron Smith goal) at Mt Smart Stadium. Crowd: 17,278. Halftime: 16-0.