New Zealand Warriors kept their unbeaten start to season 2018 going with an impressive 22 – 12 victory over North Queensland Cowboys in the second match of the double-header at Mt Smart Stadium.
The Warriors started the game with purpose and looked like a side who hadn’t lost a match this season, whilst the Cowboys started slowly again as they have done all year. The Warriors’ fast start was transformed into points with Ken Maumalo scoring in the corner after a Simone Kata line break.
North Queensland’s attack has struggled for rhythm so far this year and the preseason premiership favourites barely threatened the Warriors’ try line, whilst up the other end the Warriors looked like a well oiled machine and scored two more first half tries through winger David Fusitu’a to lead 18 – 0.
But just before halftime the men from Townsville struck back with Kyle Feldt again showing he is one of the premier finishers in the NRL by scoring in the corner with little room to work in. It seemed that that may have been the spark the Cowboys needed to get back into the match, but despite scoring the only try in the second half, North Queensland never really looked like winning the game as Stephen Kearney’s men secured another crucial two competition points.
Fit, Fast and Ferocious
There has been plenty said about the fitness of the Warriors after the addition of well re-known fitness conditioner Alex Corvo, the players look slimmer and stronger and it has done wonders to their game. A side who have always been able to play well in patches, the Warriors were able to keep their intensity for the entire 80 minutes, their defence moved up quickly to shut down Jonathan Thurston and Michael Morgan all night.
Warriors Back Five
Although the Warriors had contributions from all 17 players, the effort and impact the Warriors back five made on the game was enormous. Along with accounting for the three Warriors’ tries, both centres and wingers crossed for well over 100 metres with fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck falling just one metre short of three figures. The strong starts to their sets were paramount to the Warriors’ victory and they can thank their back five for that.
Cowboys Slow Start Continues
The Cowboys have been one of the biggest disappointments so far in season 2018 after finishing last year in rare form, the inclusions of Thurston , Matt Scott and Jordan McLean were supposed to put them into premiership contention. But it hasn’t gone to plan and they’ve had a slow start and not just on the premiership ladder, the Cowboys look slow and tired in attack as they barely looked like scoring despite having plenty of ball inside the Warriors’ 20 metre line. Respected Fox League Analyst Greg Alexander made head lines after saying he thought Thurston looked like a guy who had played on for one too many seasons, to be fair the entire Cowboys’ side look like they’re off the pace.
Double Header a Success
The NRL’s decision to bring back double headers has been a great success so far in season 2018, after drawing a great crowd at the new stadium in Perth the New Zealand version at Mt Smart Stadium was another resounding success. 26,500 ‘Aucklanders’ packed into Mt Smart Stadium to first watch New Zealand Rugby League Legend Benji Marshall kick the match winning field goal over defending premiers Melbourne Storm, this was followed up by the Warriors’ impressive win over last years’ Grand Final runner-up, the Cowboys. The atmosphere throughout both games was spectacular with Mt Smart Stadium quickly growing a reputation for producing such encounters.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
“The attitude and commitment is different this year” – Stephen Kearney
“We came up against a desperate football side who win those type of games” – Stephen Kearney
“We’re probably just lacking a bit of confidence at the moment” – Paul Green
“He’s entitled to his opinion” – Jonathan Thurston (when asked about Alexander’s claim he had played one season too many)
Tries: David Fusitu’a 2, Ken Maumalo
Goals: Shaun Johnson 5/5
Drop Goals: N/A
Tries: Kyle Feldt, Ben Hampton
Goals: Jonathan Thurston 2/2
Drop Goals: N/A
Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), 2 David Fusitua, 3 Peta Hiku, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Ken Maumalo, 6 Blake Green, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 Bunty Afoa, 9 Issac Luke, 10 Agnatius Paasi, 11 Leivaha Pulu, 12 Tohu Harris, 13 Adam Blair, 14 Jazz Tevaga, 15 Sam Lisone, 16 Simon Mannering, 17 Anthony Gelling
Cowboys: 1 Ben Hampton, 2 Kyle Feldt, 3 Justin O’Neill, 4 Javid Bowen, 5 Antonio Winterstein, 6 Michael Morgan, 7 Johnathan Thurston (c), 8 Matthew Scott (c), 9 Jake Granville, 10 Scott Bolton, 11 Gavin Cooper, 12 Coen Hess, 13 Jason Taumalolo, 14 Te Maire Martin, 15 John Asiata, 16 Corey Jensen, 17 Ethan Lowe