Warriors keep NYC title defence alive
The most dominant team in Holden Cup history has kept their hopes alive for a fourth title after the Warriors disposed of an injury-riddled Broncos team 45-10 at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday night.
Having come from eighth to win a third title last season, the defending premiers finished seventh at the end of the regular season before knocking out the Roosters in Week 1 of the finals and took that momentum into a clash with a Broncos team without a host of their very best players.
They will now meet minor premiers Penrith in the Preliminary Final with the Cowboys to take on the Sea Eagles after Manly knocked the Wests Tigers out on Friday night at Allianz Stadium.
The Warriors scored four tries in the opening half to lead 20-6 and then extended their lead early in the second half when halfback Erin Clark dived over from close range and Ata Hingano's conversion extended the lead to 20 points.
The Broncos managed to hit back courtesy of centre Jordan Drew in the 57th minute but after coming close to a second the Warriors went the length of the field for Semisi Tyrell to score his third of the night with 18 minutes left to open up a 32-10 lead.
Paul Tuli barged his way over under the posts in the 68th minute – his first try of the season – to put the result well and truly beyond doubt before Brad Abbey soared spectacularly to take a bomb short of the line and dive over left of the posts.
The Warriors looked the more threatening of the two teams in the opening stanza and burst into the Broncos' back-field after only a few minutes through Kauri Aupouri, a late call-up at hooker for Casey Lafaele.
Aupouri ran a beautiful line from an out-ball off five-eighth Ata Hingano but play broke down as he looked to link with his outside support.
The Warriors did eventually hit first when on the back of a penalty a Brad Abbey grubber into the in-goal bobbled around long enough for winger Paul Ulberg to scoot through and get two hands down on the ball, his fourth try of the finals series.
Following a ruck infringement penalty on Brisbane prop Keegan Hipgrave in front of the posts, Jai Arrow burrowed his way over from the very next play, the conversion by Jack Tuttle giving the Broncos a two-point advantage through 21 minutes.
Four minutes later the Warriors struck back again on the back of a penalty, Semisi Tyrell powering his way over through some desperate Broncos goal-line defence for a 10-6 lead.
A Broncos team down on troops were stretched again a few minutes later when lock forward Jazz Tevaga sliced over out wide, Hingano's missed conversion keeping the Broncos in the hunt despite conceding three tries in the first 33 minutes.
On the back of a successful captain's challenge 10 metres out from the Brisbane line and a repeat set Warriors centre Semisi Tyrell powered over for his second of the first half to open up a handy 14-point buffer at the break.
Warriors 45 (Semisi Tyrell 3, Paul Ulberg, Jazz Tevaga, Erin Clark, Paul Tuli, Brad Abbey tries; Ata Hingano 7 goals, Abbey field goal) defeated Brisbane Broncos 10 (Jai Arrow, Jordan Drew tries; Jack Tuttle goal) at 1300SMILES Stadium, Townsville. Half-time: 20-6 Warriors.