Looking pretty in pink for their Women in League round, the Warriors brought a stylish game to match their sparkling uniform, and looked sharp in beating the Penrith Panthers 30-20 at Mt Smart Stadium today.
The result sees the Warriors sneak into the top eight for the first time this season, but Monday's clash between the Storm, who are level with them on 18 points, and Dragons, could see that change.
The Warriors looked classy from the kick-off and caught the Panthers out with wide spreads giving Konrad Hurrell and Manu Vatuvei early tries, while the Panthers struggled to get through their sets and looked sluggish coming off last week's bye.
The Panthers roared to life in the second quarter and quick three tries saw them take a 16-12 lead at the break. Second-half scores to captain Simon Mannering and a second to Hurrell looked to put the Warriors clear, but a try to Panthers hooker James Segyaro with 15 remaining brought them within four. The game hung in the balance, but as they did last week against the Broncos, the Warriors hit back when Shaun Johnson stole an intercept and raced 52 metres for the match-winner.
"It was a tough game. They're a real good side Penrith. They're an awkward side to play. They play a different style to most teams and certainly hard to handle so we're very pleased to get the two points," coach Andrew McFadden said afterwards.
The weight of possession told the story early, with the Warriors starting well to complete six out of their first seven sets, while the Panthers finished just one of four sets and committed four errors. But after looking the part early on, mistakes crept into the host's play and they were exposed once the Panthers got a fair share of the football.
Repeat sets proved the catalyst for Jamie Soward's try under the bar, and also the Panthers' second, out wide to left wing Josh Mansour. Errors from David Fusitu'a and Hurrell gave them further chances, and a cleverly placed grubber from halfback Peter Wallace saw fullback Matt Moylan beat Tomkins for their third score in the shade of halftime.
"We got out to a great start but they were always going to put us under pressure at some stage. I started that momentum swing with a poor error and they came right back at us and put us under a lot of pressure," Mannering said. "Coming out from halftime we addressed it and were just pleased to get back on our own game and I think it shows once we do that it tends to work."
Soon after the resumption, it was Mannering running off five-eighth Chad Townsend to reclaim the lead, before a wild ingoal pass from Moylan allowed Hurrell to score his brace.
The Panthers playmaking options were reduced when Soward was kept off the park with a leg injury sustained in the first half, but their hopes were rekindled when Segyaro scampered over.
Questions remained about the Warriors mettle before Johnson's late runaway gave them the impetus to close the game out.
"We need to keep winning," was McFadden's appraisal. "It's so congested at the top of the table that if you have a couple of lean weeks where you don't get the points you can slip down pretty quickly. We're keeping ourselves in there and giving ourselves a chance."
Warriors 30 (Hurrell 2, Vatuvei, Mannering, Johnson tries; Johnson 5 cons).
Panthers 20 (Soward, Mansour, Moylan, Segyaro tries; Soward 2 cons).