The Warriors have made a positive start to their 2023 campaign, with a comprehensive 48-12 victory over the West Tigers in their first pre-season trial on Thursday night.
Wing Marcelo Montoya grabbed a hat trick, with centre Viliami Vailea getting a brace, while new recruits Luke Metcalf and Jackson Ford were also among the scorers in the nine tries to two win.
Both teams were shorn of much of their top line talent – held back for impending trials – though the Warriors had considerably more NRL experience, including Te Maire Martin, Montoya, Bunty Afoa, Ford and Brayden Wiliame.
Trials aren’t necessary much of a barometer, as there have been good pre-season Warriors performances over the years that haven’t amounted to much when the real stuff comes around.
They were also facing a highly inexperienced Tigers team, from the Sydney club that gained the wooden spoon last season.
But there are always patterns to seek and on that note, Thursday was a pleasing exercise.
The Warriors showed some polish on attack – with sharp work on each flank – and plenty of power through the middle.
Perhaps most importantly, there was defensive steel.
The home side stood up to early pressure and showed a hunger to defend mistakes, especially in the first half, when both sides fielded stronger lineups, before the younger brigade were given a chance.
Martin and Metcalf looked handy in the halves, while Afoa and Tom Ale stood out among a hard working pack.
Vailea continued his eye catching 2022 form from last season, while former Dragon Wiliame combined well with Montoya.
It was an experimental Warriors team – with the focus on the second trial with Melbourne on February 26 – but a chance for others to push their case.
In front of a 600 strong crowd at the members only clash, there was plenty of willing contact.
Afoa produced his trademark strong charges - as well as being driven back in heavy contact – while Ale made his mark beside him.
After repelling some early Tigers attack, the Warriors opened the scoring in the ninth minute.
Following a Vailea incursion on the right, the Warriors spread the ball to the other flank, with Montoya finishing well after a series of second man plays.
That gave the Warriors impetus and they went further ahead minutes later through Ford. Afoa produced a strong charge up the middle, before Martin drew in defenders near the line.
Smart dummy half work from Wiliame then put Ford into a gaping hole.
The Tigers had some moments – forcing a line drop out and going close to another – but the Warriors had more momentum, with Vailea a constant menace, making yards at will.
Montoya’s second try was another sweeping move, before a bone jarring fend by the winger confirmed the touchdown in the corner.
Highly rated Tigers’ back rower Fonua Poole was held up over the line just before the break, as the home side hung tough with a series of defensive sets in their own 22.
Metcalf capped a strong game with an impressive 50 metre solo try early in the second half, squeezing through a gap then outpacing the fullback.
What was equally impressive was the chasing pack, with four Warriors backing up the half in support.
After Montoya crossed for his third just before the hour mark, the home side finally had their line breached, with Trey Peni crossing on the right flank.
That signalled a mini-resurgence from the visitors, as Stefano Utoikamanu strong armed his way over near the posts minutes later.
Coach Andrew Webster rolled the changes for the last quarter, with Vailea capping a great night with two late tries, before Maiu’u Zyon crossed at the death.
Warriors 48 (Marcelo Montoya 3, Jackson Ford, Luke Metcalf, Moala Graham-Taufa, Viliami Vailea 2, Maiu’u Zyon tries; Luke Metcalf 3 cons, Eiden Ackland 2 cons, Vailea con )
Tigers 12 (Trey Peni, Stefano Utoikamanu tries; Brandon Wakeham 2 cons)