Overhauled Warriors down Dragons
An inexperienced Warriors side have come through a week of adversity to beat the Dragons 26-10 at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Just a week after suffering a 42-0 thrashing at the hands of Melbourne on Anzac Day, and without five frontline players who were stood down mid-week for failing to meet team standards, the Warriors played with intent in attack and defended their line stoutly for most of the 80 minutes in Auckland.
It was the Kiwi side's first win over the Dragons in their past 12 attempts, and just their fifth in a total of 24 head-to-head meetings.
After scoring three tries in the first 40 minutes the Warriors showed resilience defending their own line through the second half, eventually getting over the top of the Dragons and crossing for the lone second-half try with 20 to go.
They rode their luck in some ways as the Dragons had three tries denied by the bunker in the first 40, but took their chances well to come out deserving winners.
The visitors has taken the initial lead through a Gareth Widdop penalty, but that was quickly cancelled out by Shaun Johnson, who stepped his way through from five metres to score career try number 50.
He then turned provider along with Jeff Robson to set Matt Allwood up for a finish in the left corner.
Through that same period the Dragons hit back via a powerful Euan Aitken run, but by the 18th minute the Warriors were well in control on the scoreboard, after interchange forward Charlie Grubb muscled his way over from close range to score his first NRL try.
Johnson converted for an 18-6 lead.
Five minutes from time some wizardry from Benji Marshall tempted Allwood into flying out of the defensive line, leaving an isolated Kalifa Faifai Loa to grab a looping pass and score in the corner, to reduce the gap to 18-10 at the break.
St George Illawarra had ample opportunities to take the lead in the second half, but given repeated sets inside the attacking half could only come up with a number of errors which let their opponents off the hook.
Down the other end a handling error from Widdop, while recovering a kick on his own try-line, gave the Warriors ideal field position which they duly turned into points six more points thanks to Robson's try under the posts and Johnson's conversion.
A penalty in front of the sticks from just a few metres out presented the Warriors with an easy two points, as they closed the match out 26-10 for their fourth win of 2016.
Warriors 26 (Shaun Johnson, Matthew Allwood, Charlie Gubb, Jeff Robson tries; Johnson 5 goals) defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 10 (Euan Aitken, Kalifa Faifai Loa tries; Gareth Widdop 1 goal) at Mt Smart Stadium. Half-time: Warriors 18-10. Crowd 12,752.