Warriors v Dragons: Five key points
The St George Illawarra Dragons got back to winning ways in Round 11 after three consecutive losses, downing the Warriors 30-14 at Hamilton's FMG Stadium. Here are the key points from the match.
Pack power headlines victory
As the Dragons ploughed their way to almost 2000 running metres on Friday night, their forward pack was once again a highlight.
Off-season recruit Paul Vaughan led the way with 216 metres off 20 carries, and was backed up competently by Russell Packer, Joel Thompson and Jack de Belin, who all had well over 100 themselves.
After engaging in an arm wrestle for the opening 20 minutes, the St George Illawarra big men proved far too much for the hosts to handle, with Warriors coach Stephen Kearney admitting as much post-match.
"I thought apart from the first 20-25 minutes tonight we were just physically beaten, whether it was at the tackle or us carrying the footy," Kearney said.
Kearney hints at looming selection axe
After crashing to back-to-back defeats where they have conceded 30 points or more, Kearney suggested it may be time to change the make-up of his team.
While interchange forward Ligi Sao was the only unforced change made by Kearney following the 36-28 loss to the Panthers in Round 10, that may not be the case ahead of Saturday night's meeting with the Brisbane Broncos in Auckland.
"I have to have a look at the tape, I know it's not going to be good viewing," Kearney said.
"We have got a couple of guys who are likely to come back from injury after tonight.
"We just need to assess things and make sure we get the right team on the park next Saturday."
Workhorse lock Simon Mannering, centre Solomone Kata and veteran winger Manu Vatuvei are all good chances of returning from injury ahead of Round 12.
Second-phase sizzles for Red V
The Dragons unleashed the offload at FMG Stadium and found success with it all night long.
St George Illawarra got 20 offloads away, with several of them leading directly to tries. By comparison, the Warriors produced just two offloads all night.
The Dragons also forced 57 missed tackles from their opposition, causing havoc with their efforts to keep play alive.
Dragons coach Paul McGregor said it was a tactic he actively encouraged in the lead-up to Friday night.
"We want to promote the footy, we are exciting when we do that," McGregor said.
"We have got some really good offloaders in the footy team."
Dragons go left for success
St George Illawarra were strong all over the park in Round 11, but their left edge tore the Warriors to shreds and accounted for plenty of points.
Between them the left side centre and wing combination of Tim Lafai and Kalifa Faifai Loa ran for over 170 metres, while they made a combined four line breaks and scored three tries between them.
"Yeah Timmy Lafai has been in superior form probably since Round 2 this year, he continued that tonight," McGregor said.
"The left edge got to finish some quality and they worked hard for the team out of trouble as well."
Warriors too individual
Both coach and captain believe the Warriors are struggling to work together as a unit right now.
Post-match Kearney and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck admitted some players were trying too hard at FMG Stadium, while others were falling short in their efforts.
"One thing I do know in this game is it needs everyone putting in the same effort," Kearney said.
"I believe tonight there was a couple who were trying hard, and probably trying a little bit too hard, and then someone's not trying as hard, or drops off."