NRL: Warriors put Brisbane to the sword

By Michael Brown

Manu Vatuvei runs the ball up for the Warriors. Photo / Getty images
Manu Vatuvei runs the ball up for the Warriors. Photo / Getty images

The Warriors have consistently said all season few teams would be able to live with them if they got things right.

It seemed an audacious comment given their parlous state on the NRL ladder but tonight they married their actions and their words.

The French rugby team arrived in New Zealand last week and comparisons can be drawn between the two sides - when they are good they are very, very good but when they are bad, well...

Tonight they were excellent. Admittedly it was a poor Brisbane side shorn of four players because of State of Origin commitments and a couple more through injury but almost everything clicked for the Warriors.

They offloaded, ran strongly, supported each other, chipped and regathered and ran good lines. It was a bit like the 2002 side which rampaged their way to the club's first grand final.

Incredibly, it was Warriors' first win away from home in 10 matches and the first time they had won consecutive games since last July and they will head into next weekend's match against Manly at Mt Smart Stadium full of confidence.

It's to early to know if this is the real Warriors but it sure is a vast improvement on the one mostly seen over the last 12 months. They ran for a mammoth 1645m and produced 11 linebreaks yet still completed 82 per cent of their sets and missed only 11 tackles.

It started as early as the fourth minute when winger Manu Vatuvei scored his fifth try in the last five games after Kevin Locke cleverly drew a defender and they had 26 points by halftime as they scored five first-half tries.

Some were superb. Thomas Leuluai scored a double in the space of five minutes - the first after Feleti Mateo chipped and regathered and the second as Locke burst into a gap on a last-play option, kicked ahead and regathered.

Shan Johnson was back to his mesmerising best, Locke injected himself into the line as a top-class fullback should, Mateo carried on his form of last week with a series of offloads, clever passes and kicks and the Broncos couldn't handle Vatuvei's size, strength and speed.

It was hard to believe this was the same side that conceded 62 points against Penrith a fortnight ago and went into the match in 16th on the NRL ladder.

The only concern was a 10-minute period in the first half when Brisbane recovered to level the scores 8-8 before the Warriors hit the after-burners and another lull midway through the second half when the home side scored two tries in three minutes.

But each time they seemed to drop their standards, the Warriors picked things up again. The scored another five tries in the second half - Vatuvei scored his second three minutes after the restart after some nifty footwork from Mateo to trap a grubber - and Konrad Hurrell, Russell Packer, Glen Fisiiahi and Locke all crossed to put an exclamation mark on the score.

It was the first time the Warriors had scored 50 points since 2007 and the first time Brisbane had conceded 50 in Queensland.

The Warriors make about as much sense as a sign in the crowd at Suncorp Stadium which said, `let's gone Warriors'. On the evidence of tonight, they might not be gone.

Broncos 18 (Josh Hoffman, Alex Glenn, Scott Prince tries; Scott Prince 3 gls)

Warriors 56 (Manu Vatuvei 2, Thomas Leuluai 2, Konrad Hurrell 2, Glen Fisiiahi 2, Russell Packer, Kevin Locke tries; Shaun Johnson 8 gls). HT: 8-26.

- APNZ

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