When a team defends staunchly and attacks smoothly, they are always in command to win a rugby league game and that was the case for the New Zealand Warriors in their win against the Melbourne Storm.
The eventual score finished 28-14 in favour of the Warriors and it was the Shaun Johnson show that won the game for them, along with cameos from other crucial players.
In front of 17,278, the biggest home crowd for the Warriors all year, it was their right-side attack that put on a show, as the Storm had no answer to counter them.
There was speed, athleticism, brute force & a sensation back-flip, all of which led to tries. That back-flip was by 172cm Warriors hooker Nathan Friend who not only defied gravity with his leap but managed to back-flip and offload in the one movement, before a back-line finished the move off.
It was the main talking point from the game, with fans around the NRL talking about Friend and the try-of-the-year contender.
The first-half was the Warriors half to remember, as they produced some brilliant attacking footy and kept the Storm at bay.
As their error-count crept up, though, they let the Storm back into the game with a couple of tries of their own.
There was a rare double for Storm bench forward Kenny Bromwich but the star of the show and deservedly so, was Shaun Johnson.
If the Warriors had produced play like that against any other team, Storm coach Craig Bellamy would have applauded and cheered. Against his own side, though, it left him rather disappointed.
“They scored some tries that would have been great to watch if you were on the other side tonight, but I didnâ€™t particularly enjoy them myself,” he said.
Offloads create second-phase play and the Warriors were rampant in the first half, something that Storm prop Jesse Bromwich admitted his side has to shut down moving forward.
“We knew they had a strong offloading game and that we needed to stop that,” Bromwich said.
“They had too many at the start of the game and I guess that’s where it hurt us right at the end there.
“It does make you tired chasing offloads, especially when they have got guys like Shaun [Johnson] and Sam Tomkins off the back of it.
“They are a tough team when they play like that.”
With several key back-line players out, several stepped up and David Fusitu’a and Jonathan Wright both played their parts, with Wright praising the makeshift team.
“Whoever fills in and whoever is playing the job can still be done,” Wright said.
“Hoffy is a big part of our team and so is big Manu, so it’s good to see the boys stick to our processes and work together to get the points.”
Player of the Game:
3. Shaun Johnson
2. David Fusitu’a
1. Kenny Bromwich.
Warriors 28 (Tuimoala Lolohea 2, David Fusitu’a, Bodene Thompson, Shaun Johnson tries; Shaun Johnson 4 goals) def. Melbourne Storm 14 (Marika Koroibete, Kenny Bromwich 2 tries; Cameron Smith goal) at Mt Smart Stadium. Crowd: 17,278. Halftime: 16-0.