It was job done for the Warriors - but not without a few nervy moments.
The Warriors, in collecting their fifth successive victory with a 22-12 win over the Cowboys, learnt all about expectation.
There was plenty of it – you could feel it in the air all around the stadium, amongst the 26,500 at Mt Smart.
It was the biggest crowd at a Warriors home game since 2007, and the atmosphere was almost comparable to that epic night in 2008, when the home side smashed the Roosters in one of the last NRL finals matches to be played in Auckland.
On that kind of stage, the Warriors had to deliver. There was no room for a fade-out, or even a gallant defeat. They had raised the bar so much over the last four weeks that even with the arrival of Johnathan Thurston, Jason Taumalolo in town, another victory was expected.
It's what this team will have to get used to, if they keep up this run.
At times the Warriors wobbled, especially in the second half, and for periods it was an untidy display. They had their chances to put the game away, but struggled to put the Cowboys out of sight.
The Warriors looked nervous – no doubt because of the occasion – and struggled to play with the same freedom displayed against the Roosters. And often their attack was too lateral, going side to side before they had built pressure up the middle.
But they ran with constant passion and fury and again defended well, repelling multiple sets near their own line in both halves.
Leivaha Pulu was impressive, and set up a lot of their first half momentum with some barnstorming runs, though it was a mystery why he spent so much of the second half off the field. Peta Hiku also had a strong game but Adam Blair had a mixed night; he had heavy involvement but also sloppy errors, as well some needless penalties.
Shaun Johnson made a strong return. He found David Fusitua with a beautiful pass for their third try, managed two sideline conversions and a 40-20 kick.
Blake Green copped a cynical knee in the back from Coen Hess when prone on the ground – which seemed to take the wind out of his sails – but bounced back well to see the game out. All of the back five impressed with their work rate, especially with their willingness to work their ball out of territory.
The Warriors have banked five successive wins for the first time since 2013, and expectation is only going to increase. Bring it on.
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