The New Zealand Warriors reversed last week's woeful display against Penrith and kept their top four hopes alive by demolishing a lacklustre Brisbane Broncos 26-6 at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
The Broncos' poor afternoon was compounded by an ankle injury to star back-rower Jaydn Su'A in the 45th minute as he attempted to chase through an Anthony Milford kick. Bench forward Joe Ofahengaue limped off the field as the full-time siren sounded to add to Brisbane's woes.
The Warriors found a formula for success that could take them far in the Telstra Premiership if they can replicate it on a regular basis.
Inspired by a rampaging Agnatius Paasi in the middle and a probing Isaac Luke at dummy-half, Warriors halves Blake Green and Shaun Johnson created havoc in concert with fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
The Broncos were completely overwhelmed by the Warriors' power game with giant centre Solomone Kata also in an unstoppable mood as he rampaged his way to two tries.
Brisbane failed to find any momentum through the middle of the field and their forwards struggled to move laterally in defence against the light-footed Warriors playmakers.
Match: Broncos v Warriors
Round 18 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
The loss has the Broncos in eighth position on the ladder on 22 points and still not certain of a top eight position with the Raiders on 18 points and with a superior for-and-against.
The Warriors moved momentarily into sixth position on 24 points and within striking range of the leading four sides.
The Warriors looked dangerous from the get-go with a left-to-right sweeping movement finding Kata on the end of it for his seventh try of the season in the ninth minute.
The mesmerizing effect of Shaun Johnson came to the fore in the 27th minute when he drew in Jordan Kahu and sent Gerard Beale into a gaping hole.
Both sides bombed tries in the first half with the ball escaping the clutches of Corey Oates as he dove for the corner in the opening five minutes, and Adam Blair spilling the beans as he raced through to collect a Green kick.
The game erupted in the 32nd minute when Warriors forward Chris Satae caught Andrew McCullough in the throat with a forearm while in possession. McCullough responded with a few haymakers and both found themselves in the bin for 10 minutes.
Luke's try on the cusp of half-time had a comedic look about it as he ran sideways for 15m and brushed aside several would-be tacklers before pumping into Milford, and then bumped off him and ran another 10m to score.
Kearney and Bennett have their say on stoush
The Broncos would have been feeling a deja-vu moment down 16-0 at half-time, the same scoreline they were behind against the Raiders two rounds previously before staging a remarkable comeback.
This time there was to be no form reversal with the second stanza starting in the worst possible fashion for the home side with Su'A leaving the field and the Broncos having a try disallowed to Darius Boyd due to an obstruction by Joe Ofahengaue on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Kata was soon over for the Warriors with a typically powerful surge and when Green put Paasi over in the 54th minute the Warriors led 26-0. Brisbane did score late through McCullough but there was to be no fightback on this occasion for Brisbane.
News & notes: The Warriors' 26-0 win was their first over the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium since a 56-18 victory in 2013… Crowd: 37,492… Broncos back-rower Jaydn Su'A left the field in the 45th minute with an ankle injury… Broncos forward Joe Ofahengaue limped from the field in the 80th minute… The Warriors now have the best away record of any side in the NRL this year with seven wins from nine games… Next week: The Broncos are at home to the Penrith Panthers on Friday night at 7.50pm. The Warriors will host the Melbourne Storm at Mt Smart on Sunday at 4pm.