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

NRL: Warriors thrash woeful Knights

Warriors 50 Knights 14

The Warriors are starting - slowly but surely - to live up to their name. After a season of false dawns, they are beginning to build some momentum in 2016.

They hammered Newcastle 50-14 tonight, to bank consecutive NRL wins for just the third time in the last 12 months.

David Fusitua enjoyed an incredible day, becoming only the seventh Warriors player in their history to score four tries in a match. Prop Albert Vete grabbed his first two tries of the season while Issac Luke was prominent in his 200th NRL match.

It means they continue their climb up the NRL ladder, ahead of the Roosters visit to Auckland next Sunday. The only negative out of the match was an injury to Manu Vatuvei (torn hamstring) while Shaun Johnson also left the field late in the second half with a corked thigh.

However, just like last week, the Warriors can't - and won't - get carried away. There is no such thing as an easy game in the NRL but the Knights in their current state is as close as it gets. The Newcastle team yesterday had an average age of 22, and though they competed well for the first 50 minutes, were always likely to be overwhelmed if the Warriors produced anywhere near their best display.

Aside from an early Tui Lolohea error in their first set, the Warriors started how they left off against the Broncos.

A well timed run and offload from Jacob Lillyman resulted in Albert Vete's first try of the season in the 5th minute, then a sharp backline move saw David Fustiua extend their lead six minutes later. That should have been a platform to launch - against a team that were coming off seven consecutive losses - but it's never quite that simple with the Warriors.

Every time they threatened to break away in the first half, they let the Knights back into the contest, with some poor decisions and cheap penalties. And like last week, they conceded some painfully soft tries.

Two ineffectual grabs allowed Sione Mata'utia to power over for Newcastle's first try before a lack of desperation from Warriors chasers saw Brendan Elliott arrive first to ground a Knights grubber. It meant the home side stayed in touch until halftime, and the Knights then bombed a certain try under the posts early in the second half which may have made the equation interesting.

But that was as close as Newcastle got. Fusitua scored two excellent tries in the space of four minutes early in the second half to blow the game open, after which the game lost much of its structure. Further tries to Fusitua, Solomone Kata and Vete completed the rout on the central Coast.

Knights 14 (S Mata'utia, B Elliott tries; T Hodkinson 3 goals)
Warriors 50 (A Vete 2, D Fusitua 4, M Vatuvei, B Thompson, S Kata tries; S Johnson 5 goals, I Luke 2 goals)
Halftime: 22-14

- NZ Herald

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