The rise of the New Zealand Warriors in the Telstra 2018 NRL Premiership competition caught a few, well, more than a few observers, off guard.
That led to the usual speculation about Cinderella turning back into a pumpkin, or however that fairytale goes, and they have looked unsteady at moments, but a decisive 26 – 6 win over the Brisbane Broncos has left them restored after consecutive defeats, including last week to Penrith.
They will need it in the next round, where they will face the Melbourne Storm in found 19.
Solomone Kata scored a pair of tries and Issac Luke dominated play round the ruck and contributed to the Warriors’ enjoying a 16 – 0 edge at the half.
The win over the Broncos put some stop to the end-of-season slump talk and the Warriors forwards thrived in fast and dry conditions, even though the pack for the Broncos had the bigger players.
The Warriors were also quite good from a defensive standpoint and they nearly laid a duck on the Broncos until Brisbane scored a late try when the outcome was no longer in any doubt.
The Warriors are now level fourth with the Panthers and the Sharks on 24 points. They might soon be joined by the Sydney Roosters, whose good fortune it is to next play the Gold Coast Titans.
The win also gave the Warriors some breathing space, opening up a six-point margin over their closest pursuers, the Canberra Raiders.
The Broncos nearly flipped the script in the opening minutes, with Corey Oates nearly putting one over, but Roger Tuivasa-Sheck save the day and seemed to supply the impetus that allowed New Zealand to take control of the game.
Issac Luke’s solo try late in the half, where he beat three defenders, gave the Warriors’ the 16 – 0 gap, although it could have be more if they had been a bit more precise with their attack.
The 2018 Warriors seem to be the most legitimate edition of the club in recent memory, which may take a little attention from the All Blacks.