Warriors hit five as Cowboys outgunned
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.