War­riors hit five as Cow­boys out­gunned

Sunday News - - LEAGUE - DAVID LONG

THE War­riors will need a big­ger sta­dium if they carry on like this.

In front of 26,500 spec­ta­tors at Mt Smart Sta­dium last night they de­feated the Cow­boys 22-12 for their fifth win of the sea­son and re­main one of just two un­beaten teams this year.

For the sec­ond game of the NRL dou­ble header in Auckland, the War­riors may not have been at the same level on at­tack as they were against the Roost­ers last week­end, but they put in another gutsy ef­fort against the team that reached last year’s grand fi­nal.

The last time War­riors won five games in a row was in 2013, not sur­pris­ingly, that was dur­ing the State of Ori­gin pe­riod, when they al­ways have their best runs, as other teams are weaker.

To do it at this time of the sea­son is un­prece­dented for the club that had made an art form of slow starts to cam­paigns.

But this year they’re play­ing with pas­sion, con­fi­dence and struc­ture, and their fans are lov­ing it.

The packed sta­dium got the start they wanted with Ken Mau­malo scor­ing in the fifth minute. The winger took a pass from his left-edge part­ner Solomone Kata and raced away.

The War­riors de­fence was tested later in the half with Johnathan Thurston delv­ing into his bag of tricks to put some­one into a gap.

But just like against the Roost­ers, the War­riors were re­lent­less with their com­mit­ment to con­tin­u­ally shut out the Cow­boys’ run­ners. They now sprint off their goal-line to de­fend, not jog, and even­tu­ally the pres­sure was eased.

The War­riors were then able to get down the other end, where An­to­nio Win­ter­stein was pe­nalised for dump­ing David Fusitu’a head first into the ground in the 26th minute, af­ter he’d beaten him for a high ball.

The winger had the last laugh though as from the next set he took a pass from Shaun John­son and skirted around the Samoan in­ter­na­tional for a try.

Five min­utes from the break Fusitu’a had his sec­ond, fin­ish­ing off an at­tack down the right edge, tak­ing a pass from Peta Hiku.

Hiku’s work was sen­sa­tional in the try, as he sucked in three de­fend­ers be­fore back-hand­ing it to Fusitu’a.

The per­fect half was spoiled though with a try by Kyle Feldt two min­utes be­fore the break, as the Cow­boys cap­i­talised on a War­riors turnover.

It was a score that re­minded the play­ers that their work wasn’t over.

But the de­fence stood up again early in the sec­ond half and off the back of that, John­son kicked a 40/20 in the 50th minute.

Noth­ing came from that, but John­son did kick a penalty in the 54th minute to ex­tend the War­riors’ lead to 14 points.

From a re­peat set, the Cow­boys got their sec­ond try in the 62nd minute, with Thurston cre­at­ing an over­lap for full­back Ben Hamp­ton.

The game then reached a cru­cial point. The War­riors needed to stop the Cow­boys’ mo­men­tum, cut down Thurston’s time on the ball and take con­trol of the mid­dle.

That’s ex­actly what they did, and although they couldn’t get another try, John­son goaled another penalty four min­utes from time.

It was as much about wind­ing down the clock as it was scor­ing points and from then on.

Cow­boys winger Kyle Feldt scores in the first half.

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