Not many would have predicted it, but the New Zealand Warriors are 5-0 to start the year after yet another win, this time over the North Queensland Cowboys.
Just one of two teams to remain unbeaten after five rounds – the St George Illawarra Dragons are the other – the Warriors right side edge again shone through.
The 22-12 victory over the Cowboys leaves the Townsville side with just one win from four games, far from the lofty heights of previous years.
The Warriors drew first blood as Ken Maumalo continued his impressive start with an acrobatic finish for the first of his two tries.
Before the Warriors scored again, the Cowboys would have a very good chance to get over the line.
Instead, Warriors forwards Agnatius Paasi and Adam Blair miraculously held Jason Taumalolo up over the try-line.
From there, Fusitu’a had his second, as he and Shaun Johnson combined – the latter with a lovely cut-out pass.
The Warriors went over again, as Peta Hiku took the line and flicked a pass out to Fusitu’a for his second.
The Cowboys would hit back before the break, however, as a bullet-like pass from Michael Morgan found winger Kyle Feldt.
The Warriors extended their lead via penalty goal before Ben Hampton gave the Cowboys a sniff with a try on the left edge.
It was not to be, though, as defence held firm and another Johnson penalty goal culminated in the Warriors 22-12 win.
As honest as they come for a coach, Paul Green says his Cowboys side lacks some confidence.
“We are just lacking a little bit of confidence at the moment and conceding those couple of tries early doesn’t help that,” Green said.
“Playing from behind all the time is putting pressure on us.
“You don’t forget how to play footy, you don’t lose your talent overnight, it’s just important that we stay strong mentally moving forward because that’s the difference at the moment.”
Defence and attitude are the keys for the Warriors in their impressive start to the season.
“The attitude and commitment is different (than in previous seasons),” Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said.
“Roger (Tuivasa-Sheck) says he feels comfortable at the back, and the boys in the middle of the park are responding to him.”
Player of the Game:
3. David Fusitu’a
2. Peta Hiku
- Shaun Johnson