Warriors v Broncos: Five key points
The Warriors had too much class for a depleted Brisbane Broncos outfit on Saturday night in Auckland, registering a 28-10 victory at Mount Smart Stadium. Here are the five key talking points from the Round 12 NRL Telstra Premiership match.
Warriors flip defensive effort
Eight days after missing 57 tackles against the St George Illawarra Dragons, the Warriors cut that number by more than half against Brisbane and it showed on the scoreboard.
The match was just the second time the Warriors have held a team to 10 points or less since June last year, and came after they leaked 36 and 30 points over the last two weeks against the Penrith Panthers and Dragons respectively.
While the Broncos did get over the line twice via speedster James Roberts, Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck said it was pleasing that they both came against the run of play rather than from defensive shortcomings.
"They were two tries that came out of something where they had to throw the ball around, had to go for a kick," Tuivasa-Sheck said.
Johnson back with a boom
Halfback Shaun Johnson played his best game of the year against the Broncos, and it set the tone for his entire squad.
The former Golden Boot winner was almost untouchable in the opening half, setting up the first try with a double pump and crisp short ball to Blake Ayshford, before guiding a grubber into the in-goal for Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's try just before the break.
In between that Johnson scored a classy try of his own, and the 26-year-old finished the match having carried the ball 14 times for 111 metres, with a line break to go with it.
His showing will also please NRL Fantasy coaches who have him in their squad, with the No.7 finishing with a provisional score of 71.
Bennett not interested in excuses
They may have been without seven frontline players due to State of Origin selection or injury, but according to coach Wayne Bennett that was no excuse for Brisbane's poor showing in Auckland.
With Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, Anthony Milford, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday and Josh McGuire all away in camp with Queensland, and hooker Andrew McCullough out with concussion, Brisbane were missing more than 1200 games of NRL experience on Saturday night.
But Bennett was quick to shut down suggestions that it had contributed to the loss to the Warriors.
"We didn't come here looking for excuses, we come here with a footy team that we thought could play well," Bennett said.
"We haven't done that, so it's not about who we haven't got."
Pack finally show some teeth
Steamrolled against the Dragons last start, in a match where they gave up more than 2000 running metres, the Warriors' middle unit stood tall against Brisbane.
While the Broncos were without a handful of key forwards, the Kiwi side's effort to roll through the middle of the park, and repel much of what came at them from the other direction, was admirable given their forward struggles to date in 2017.
Coach Stephen Kearney's side ran for 1726 metres against Brisbane, with forwards James Gavet, Issac Luke, Ben Matulino, Simon Mannering, Sam Lisone and Albert Vete all going for over 100 individually.
Completions a blight for Broncos
Regardless of the personnel they were missing, Brisbane never gave themselves a realistic chance of being in the encounter against the Warriors.
A total of 16 errors saw the Broncos complete just 55 per cent of their sets at Mount Smart Stadium, allowing the home side to boss the possession count.
Captain Adam Blair said his side's ball control was unacceptable.
"We have standards at the club, that our job is to complete our sets," Blair said.
"We just didn't do it tonight."