Win­ning streak ends for slug­gish War­riors

Sunday News - - LEAGUE - DAVID LONG

THE War­riors were brought back down to earth yes­ter­day with a 27-18 de­feat to the Bron­cos at Mt Smart Sta­dium.

It ended their per­fect start to the sea­son as they were de­feated by a clin­i­cal Bron­cos side, with young New Zealan­der Ja­mayne Isaako scor­ing 18 points.

After win­ning their first five games, there could be some dis­ap­point­ment from the crowd of 15,636 that the team was a bit flat.

In many ways, it was a con­tin­u­a­tion of the sec­ond half against the Cow­boys last week, when they couldn’t get their at­tack go­ing and over the sec­ond 40 min­utes of this en­counter didn’t threaten enough.

It had been a slug­gish start to the sea­son for the Bron­cos, com­ing to Auck­land on the back of losses to the Ti­tans and Knights, but this was by far their best per­for­mance of the sea­son.

The chal­lenge for the War­riors is to bounce back from this, take it on the chin and pre­pare for the un­beaten Dragons on Fri­day night in Auck­land, be­cause a win in that game would put them back on track.

Right from the start, this didn’t look like be­ing the War­riors’ day.

Bron­cos winger Cory Oates scored a solo try in the fourth minute, cut­ting back in­side to find a gap between Shaun John­son and Sam Lisone.

But in the 10th minute, David Fusitu’a, who has be­come the club’s try-scor­ing ma­chine, took a pass from John­son that cut out Peta Hiku and the War­riors winger went in for the eighth time this sea­son.

The Bron­cos later con­ceded three penal­ties in a row and on the third John­son went for the points, putting the War­riors up 8-6.

Isaako did like­wise for the Bron­cos in the 20th minute and the Christchurch-born winger got his first NRL try a cou­ple of min­utes later, break­ing through the War­riors’ de­fence.

He missed the con­ver­sion, but nailed a penalty in the 29th minute to give the Bron­cos a 14-8 lead.

The War­riors got a huge stroke of luck with their sec­ond try as a grub­ber kick from Blake Green bob­bled too much for Dar­ius Boyd to grab onto.

The ball then hit the pad­ding on the post and bounced back into the hands of a de­lighted Green, who took one step for­ward to ground the ball for the try.

With 90 sec­onds to go in the half and the Bron­cos press­ing on the War­riors’ goal line, An­thony Mil­ford sur­pris­ingly kicked a field goal for a one-point lead.

It may have put the Bron­cos in front but it did have to go down as a vic­tory for the War­riors’ de­fence.

It was a half where the Bron­cos had com­pleted all 15 of their sets and they had 23 tackle breaks to 11 from the War­riors, ran the ball for for 150m more, but still this game was on a knife edge.

It was a poor sec­ond half for the War­riors, the goal-line de­fence that had been so im­pres­sive this sea­son, didn’t put up much op­po­si­tion against a Jaydn Su’A run in the 46th minute.

Isaako got his sec­ond try in the 53rd minute, go­ing down the line, out­side Ken Mau­malo and then added two ex­tra points with the con­ver­sion.

John­son gave the War­riors a slim hope of a come­back with a try in the 71st minute.

The Bron­cos’ Jack Bird goes high to stop the progress of Simon Man­ner­ing.

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