Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: Warriors make statement with win

Feleti Mateo of the Warriors celebrates after scoring a try during the round 8 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the New Zealand Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors celebrates after scoring a try during the round 8 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the New Zealand Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.

Warriors 16
Storm 10

We should have known.

The Warriors defied their poor form of 2014 to win a hugely entertaining game over the Storm.

It's the kind of victory that makes a statement; that could set a platform for the rest of the year.

There were great performers all across the park for the Auckland team. Sam Tomkins impressed with his constant involvement, while the Konrad Hurrell and Ngani Laumape gave the penetration out wide that Dane Nielsen has never offered. The effort from the forwards was immense, as they constantly repelled the Storm attackers.

For much of the first half the Warriors resembled the Storm, dominating possession and territory with strong forward drives and limiting their mistakes.

Then at the start of the second spell the Melbourne side impersonated the Warriors; offloading at will, razzle dazzle football and some of their best attacking moves of 2014.
Earlier, the Warriors had made their most convincing start of the season.

There was purpose, power and precision from the first whistle - gone was the lacklustre play of last week against the Dragons. They barely made a mistake in the first 20 minutes, with a 92 per cent possession rate as they camped in Storm territory. Unfortunately, there was little reward for their constant pressure.

David Fusitua showed remarkable agility to score his first NRL try - after swift work from Ben Henry - in the tenth minute but further opportunities were squandered by poor fifth tackle options. It has been a problem that has plagued the team in recent seasons, as the pressure valve is released with inaccurate kicks.

The Warriors extended their lead in the 28th minute, Simon Mannering putting Feleti Mateo over near the posts after the impressive Fusitua had regained possession from a kick.

But as Melbourne do, they responded with one of their few forays into the Warriors' red zone, clever work from Cooper Cronk allowing Kevin Proctor to power over.

The Storm completely dominated the first quarter after halftime, making repeated incursions with the offloading of Jesse Bromwich particularly damaging. After conceding a try in the 44th minute, the Warriors showed defensive resilience that has been absent for much of this season - at one stage repelling three consecutive sets on their own line.

Shaun Johnson completed a fabulous team try in the 64th minute, after great work from Jayson Bakuya and Fusitua. His conversion attempt from a handy angle hit the posts, missing the chance of an eight point lead but the Warriors hung on in a frenetic finale.

Storm 10 (K. Proctor , Y. Tonumaipea tries; C. Smith goal)
Warriors 16 (D. Fusitua, F. Mateo, S. Johnson tries; S. Johnson 2 goals)

- Herald on Sunday

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