This just might be the strangest winning streak the Warriors have ever had.
They continue to rack up the victories, with a remarkable seven on the bounce now, which is just one away from the club record eight achieved in the celebrated 2002 season.
The 16-6 win over the Dragons on Friday night also guaranteed a top four berth in the playoffs, which comes with a double life and at least one home finals game.
But something has gone missing.
Just like in the last three games, this was another scratchy affair, where the Warriors huffed and puffed but couldn’t found their rhythm or their range.
In front of a season record crowd of 25,095, the frustration was also a sign of where expectations are now, as most fans would have dreamed about this scenario over the last decade but now know the team is capable of so much more.
While the Warriors were never behind, the result was only sealed in the 74th minute, when prop Addin Fonua-Blake took advantage of a bizarre Tyrell Sloan error to dot down under the posts.
It puts the Warriors in almost unprecedented territory of being able to plan for September football, though this performance will prompt another midweek re-evaluation.
It won’t be nearly good enough against Brisbane or Penrith, especially with the pace those two teams play at. The performance was also blighted by errors and penalties and too often the Warriors attack was overly lateral – and behind the advantage line - though they will be satisfied with limiting the Dragons to a single try.
The victory also meant that Shaun Johnson got to celebrate his 250th NRL game with a win, while most of the forward pack had solid games.
St George-Illawarra also came to play. They had only won one of their last six matches but had been in every contest, pushing the Eels, Storm and Rabbitohs close.
The Warriors had a major let-off from the kick-off, after a failure to deal with the bouncing ball saw Zac Lomax regather and cross in the corner. After seven seconds, it would have been the quickest try in NRL history, but was ruled out after the bunker found a slight knock on.
The first try, in the 14th minute, was a reward for sustained pressure. The Warriors had worked away on both sides – gaining repeat sets – before Fonua-Blake and Luke Metcalf combined to put Adam Pompey through on the left, after a similar incursion on the right. The home side extended their lead through a similar pattern, with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad finding a way through for his sixth try of the season.
After losing Rocco Berry to injury – replaced by Jackson Ford – they should have gone further ahead, only for Fonua-Blake to fumble the ball under the posts. It was a curious error from the prop, as he got his body in the wrong position, after running off a perfectly timed Dylan Walker pass.
It was a strange half, epitomised by a 60 second period just before halftime when the Warriors fumbled the ball three times – regathering twice – before Marata Niukore eventually shelled it.
The Warriors had been wasteful in the first period. They had enjoyed 60 per cent of possession, almost 400 more run metres and had four line breaks, but not much to show for it. As in recent weeks, the timing wasn’t quite there, though the Dragons defended their edges well.
The third quarter was the most even of the match. The Warriors went close through Ford but otherwise couldn’t get going, hampered by cheap penalties and inaccurate play.
The Dragons deserved something and were unfortunate when Jacob Liddle fumbled in the process of grounding, after finding space out of dummy half, but the joint venture club got their reward just after the hour, with Lomax profiting from a Dallin Watene-Zelezniak fumble.
They led to a tense final 20 minutes, with the pressure only alleviated with Sloan’s casual miss of a Johnson grubber, which allowed Fonua-Blake to score his eighth touchdown of 2023.
Warriors 18 (Adam Pompey, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Addin Fonua-Blake tries; Pompey 2 cons, pen)
Dragons 6 (Zac Lomax try; Lomax con)