Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Have the Warriors turned a corner?

Warriors 36 Broncos 18
The Warriors' attack was almost unstoppable in their win over the Broncos. Photo / Getty
The Warriors' attack was almost unstoppable in their win over the Broncos. Photo / Getty

It might be time to get back on the Warriors' rollercoaster. In a year that has provided far more spills than thrills, last night the Warriors summoned up a brilliant display to dispatch Brisbane.

The eventual scoreline probably even flattered the visitors, as the game was over with more than 30 minutes to play when the home side led 28-6.

The Warriors have a long history of defying expectation, but nobody saw this kind of performance coming after the despair and turmoil of the past fortnight.

The key was energy and conviction, as the team did everything with purpose. And, as coach Andrew McFadden mentioned during the week, the players were let off the leash and produced the kind of attacking play the club have been famed for over the years.

"We wanted to get back to that [kind of game]," said halfback Shaun Johnson. "There was a focus on us playing our type of footy and getting back to having fun with it.

The forwards did a really good job of setting the platform and some offloads came off the back of that."

In time, we will find out what this result really means. Is it the start of something or yet another false dawn? The Warriors were fortunate to host Brisbane a few days after an Origin match and also got the rub of the green last night, particularly when the referees rubbed out two Broncos tries for forward passes just before halftime. They were both correct calls but have been missed in other games.

But the Warriors made their own luck by producing an up-tempo display on attack and defence.

"We had a certain energy about us that we haven't had over the last month or so," said Johnson. "[It came from] a backs-against-the-wall mentality. We knew we were the only people that could change what was going on and that performance was the first step in doing that."

It was easily the best display of the season. They dominated the ruck, made breaks out wide and defended with conviction. The highlight reels will concentrate on some spectacular tries, particularly a couple from long range, but the defensive desire caught the eye. Sure, two of the Broncos tries were fairly soft but, when the Warriors defended their line for four consecutive sets in the second half, it was clear something was different.

"We earned the right to play and everything went well from there," said assistant coach Justin Morgan. "We kept driving them back, made them work hard for any yards out of their own territory."

The pack bested their highly-rated opposites, Johnson gave (yet another) response to his critics and Tui Lolohea, Solomone Kata and David Fusitua caught the eye in the back line. Issac Luke also provided great impetus from dummy half, constantly keeping the defensive line guessing.

The start to the game was incredible. The Warriors scored three tries in the opening 22 minutes - and could have had one or two more - in by far their best first half of the season.

At 18-0, it was hard to know who was more surprised: the Broncos or long-suffering Mt Smart crowd.

Warriors 36 (S Johnson, B Thompson, J Lillyman, D Fusitua 2, R Hoffman, S Kata tries; Johnson 4 gls) Broncos 18 (A Glenn, J Kahu, T Pangai tries; C Parker 2, J Kahu gls). Halftime: 18-6.

- Herald on Sunday

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