The Warriors proved their strong season start was no fluke by ending St George Illawarra's unbeaten run with an impressive 20-12 NRL win in Auckland.

After a flat display in their first loss against the Broncos last week, the Warriors produced their most energetic and clinical performance of the season on a wet night at Mt Smart Stadium.

The home side enjoyed a 10-0 halftime lead and sealed the result with a try to bench back-rower Isaiah Papali'i with two minutes remaining, after the Dragons fought back to within four points following a try to back-rower Tariq Sims in the 72nd minute.

Coach Stephen Kearney praised his side's attitude and spirit after they ran hard and defended like their lives depended on it to strangle the best attacking team in the competition.

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"Commitment and attitude, that's what the guys had tonight," Kearney said.

"They were really committed to the process and putting pressure on the Dragons which we thought was going to work for us, and to do that you've got to have a real purpose about your job and they did that tonight.

"There wasn't anything technical that stood out but there was certainly a lot of spirit, commitment and energy."

Dragons coach Paul McGregor questioned the Warriors' tendency to concede goal line penalties after five-eighth Blake Green was sent to the sinbin near the end of the first half following repeated infringements, but praised their defence while lamenting a handful of missed opportunities by his side.

"They were just too good on the night," McGregor said.

"And they obviously came with a plan, they gave away a lot of penalties and defended their line well, whether that was part of it I'm not sure.

"But certainly their line speed was incredible and their scrambling was the best I've seen from any team this year.

"But it was frustrating because it was stop-start for that first period but we had three one-on-one misses that led to tries and we had five other opportunities we didn't finish."

For the second time this season, fill-in halfback Mason Lino stepped up to deliver for the Warriors in the absence of injured star Shaun Johnson. The 24-year-old scored the home side's first try in the fourth minute, while new centre recruit Anthony Gelling filled in admirably for Solomone Kata to score their second four-pointer five minutes before the break.

The understrength Warriors were dealt another blow in the first half with in-form back-rower Tohu Harris departing after two separate head knocks, with a stray knee from Sims putting him out of the match after 27 minutes.

The hosts repeatedly turned the Dragons away but tested referee Ben Cummins' patience one too many times when Green was given his marching orders, but more determined defence saw them go to the sheds without their line being breached.

The Dragons hit back soon after the resumption through halfback Ben Hunt and looked set to claim the lead inside the last quarter when centre Tim Lafai stole an intercept to run in, before being called back for an earlier knock-on from front-rower James Graham.

The match then turned when Warriors hooker Issac Luke produced two pieces of brilliance with a 40/20 kick putting his side on attack, before he ducked over from dummyhalf to score their third try beside the posts in the 65th minute.

Sims' late score caused some concern but the Warriors showed tremendous resolve to hit back again to seal a memorable win.

The Warriors now have a short turn-around before heading to Melbourne for the Anzac Day clash against the Storm next Wednesday.

Warriors 20 (Mason Lino, Anthony Gelling, Issac Luke, Isaiah Papali'i tries, Mason Lino 2/4 cons)

Dragons 12 (Ben Hunt, Tariq Sims tries, Gareth Widdop 2/2 cons)