Warriors make statement with red-hot win

04:28, Jul 29 2013
Warriors 2013
Shaun Johnson on the attack against the Eels.
Warriors 2013
Jacob Lillyman touches down in the Warriors opener against the Eels.
Warriors 2013
Manu Vatuvei absorbs two tackles from the Eels.
Warriors 2013
Ben Matulino on the run against the Eels.
Warriors 2013
Kevin Locke and Shaun Johnson look on after losing to the Roosters in round two.
Warriors 2013
Kevin Locke is tackled by former Warrior James Maloney.
Warriors 2013
Captain Simon Mannering gets caught in the tackle against the Roosters.
Warriors 2013
Sonny Bill Williams makes his return to Eden Park, this time for the Roosters against the Warriors.
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Elijah Taylor on the run against the Sharks.
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Dane Nielsen attempts to slip through a Sharks tackle.
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Thomas Leuluai gets through the tackle of the Sharks' Wade Graham.
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Pita Godinet gets a pass away against the Cowboys.
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Konrad Hurrell escapes the tackle of James Tamou of the Cowboys.
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Feleti Mateo congratulates Shaun Johnson on his try against the Cowboys.
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Nathan Friend prepares for the tackle against the Cowboys.
Warriors 2013 season
Ben Matulino of the Warriors dives over to score a try during the round five match with the Rabbitohs.
Warriors 2013 season
Manu Vatuvei tries to make the hard yards against the Rabbitohs.
Warriors 2013 season
Todd Lowrie spins a pass during the round five encounter with the Rabbitohs.
Warriors 2013 season
Ngani Laumape tries to make ground against a wall of Rabbitohs players.
Warriors 2013 season
Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors fends off Jarrod Croker of the Raiders during the round six clash between the sides.
Warriors 2013 season
Bill Tupou of the Warriors tries to grab a loose ball under pressure from Jarrod Croker of the Raiders.
Warriors 2013 season
Warrior Kevin Locke on the charge against the Canberra Raiders in round six.
Warriors 2013 season
Manu Vatuvei of the Warriors and Jack Wighton of the Raiders contest a high ball during their round six encounter.
Warriors 2013 season
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors makes a break against the Melbourne Storm in round seven.
Warriors 2013 season
Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors takes a hit against the Storm.
Warriors 2013 season
Shaun Johnson scores for the Warriors against the Storm.
Warriors 2013 season
Bill Tupou celebrates with teammates after scoring a try for the Warriors against the Storm.
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Feleti Mateo (right) celebrates his try against the Titans with Manu Vatuvei.
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Manu Vatuvei chases the ball into the in-goal.
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Kevin Locke takes on the Titans defence.
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Russell Packer charges ahead for the Warriors against the Titans.
Warriors 2013 season
Sam Kasiano of the Bulldogs makes little ground against the Warriors' defence.
Warriors 2013 season
Thomas Leuluai scores for the Warriors against the Bulldogs at Westpac stadium in Wellington.
Warriors 2013 season
The Warriors' Manu Vatuvei and Bulldog Sam Perrett contest for a high ball.
Warriors 2013 season
Manu Vatuvei celebrates with Todd Lowrie after scoring the Warriors' first try against the Bulldogs in Wellington.
Warriors 2013 Season
Warriors coach Matthew Elliott arrives at Mt Smart Stadium for an emergency meeting after the team's hammering by the Panthers.
Warriors 2013  season
Warrior Kevin Locke arrives at Mt Smart Stadium for an emergency meeting after the team's hammering by the Panthers.
Warriors 2013 season
Warriors players arrive at Mt Smart Stadium for an emergency meeting after the team's hammering by the Panthers.
Warriors season 2013
Jordan Kahu of the Warriors blows a kiss to the fans as he celebrates a try against the Broncos.
Warriors season 2013
The Bronco's Josh Hoffman makes little ground against the Warriors.
Warriors season 2013
Shaun Johnson of the Warriors breaks away from the Bronco's defence.
Warriors season 2013
Konrad Hurrell touches down for the Warriors against the Broncos.
Warriors 2013 season gallery
Manu Vatuvei charges ahead against Manly.
Warriors 2013 season gallery
Konrad Hurrell beats the tackle of Manly's Brent Kite on his way to the tryline for the match-winning try.
Warriors 2013 season gallery
Manu Vatuvei leaves Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans in his wake.
Warriors 2013 season gallery
Warriors players (from left) Jacon Lillyman, Simon Mannering and Konrad Hurrell watch replays on the big screen as video refs consider a decision.
Warriors v Roosters
Elijah Taylor tries to fend off James Maloney during the Warriors' 23-12 win over the Roosters.
Warriors v Roosters
Glen Fisiiahi breaks away to score a try against the Roosters.
Warriors v Roosters
Sonny Bill Williams tries to escape the Warriors' tackle.
Warriors v Roosters
Thomas Leuluai gets the kick off as he is tackled by Sonny Bill Williams.
Warriors v Roosters
Anthony Minichello executes a try saving tackle on Ben Matulino.
Warriors gallery 2013
Glen Fisiiahi (left) and Konrad Hurrell celebrate the win over Brisbane Broncos.
Warriors gallery 2013
Feleti Mateo offloads in the tackle of a Brisbane Broncos player.
Warriors gallery 2013
Manu Vatuvei celebrates scoring the first against the Brisbane Broncos.
Warriors 2013 season
Kevin Locke is taken in the tackle of a Brisbane Broncos player.
Rabbitohs v Warriors
Konrad Hurrell attempts to break the Rabbitohs' defence in Perth.
Rabbitohs v Warriors
Thomas Leuluai makes a break during the Warriors' loss to the Rabbitohs.
Rabbitohs v Warriors
Isaac Luke of the Rabbitohs gets tackled by Feleti Mateo of the Warriors.
Rabbitohs v Warriors
Nathan Merritt of the Rabbitohs gets tackled by Elijah Taylor of the Warriors.
Shuan Johnson
Shaun Johnson high-fives captain Simon Mannering after his second half try, part of his 16-point haul in the 24-14 win over the Wests Tigers.
Kevin Locke
Kevin Locke runs straight into Kiwis team-mate Adam Blair during their match at Leichhardt Oval.
Elijah Taylor
Warriors forward Elijah Taylor is bent back in the tackle of three Wests Tigers players.
Shaun Johnson
Shaun Johnson scored two tries and kicked four conversions in the win at Leichhardt Oval.
Feleti Mateo
Warriors centre Feleti Mateo is tackled by Blake Ayshford.
Ben Matulino
Ben Matulino charges straight into the Wests Tigers defence.
Suaia Matagi
Suaia Matagi cops a forearm to the nose as he hits the ball up.
Warriors
Feleti Mateo of the Warriors charges forward against the Storm.
Warriors
Jacob Lillyman of the Warriors offloads to setup another attack.
Warriors
Cooper Cronk of the Melbourne Storm is brought down by strong Warriors defence.
Warriors v Sea Eagle
Manu Vatuvei reacts after the loss to the Sea Eagles.
Warriors v Sea Eagle
Kevin Locke chases down a loose ball during the Warriors' loss to the Sea Eagles.
Warriors v Sea Eagle
Ngani Laumape touches down for a try against the Sea Eagles.
Warriors v Sea Eagle
Shaun Johnson in action against the Sea Eagles.

In years to come, the league almanacs will tell the basics: that the Warriors beat the Storm 30-22 at Mt Smart Stadium yesterday. 

In reality, it was so much more. It was a statement of intent. A five-try shot across the bows of the NRL from a side who have now won seven of their last eight matches - and have just downed the reigning premiers.

Moments, from both sides, were everywhere. Ngani Laumape's beautiful first-half team try, and Will Chambers' astonishing chase down of Shaun Johnson to deny the Warriors halfback a runaway spring instantly to mind.

Konrad Hurrell
WINNING WAYS: Konrad Hurrell congratulates Ngani Laumape on his try during the Warriors win over the Storm.

Two shine brighter than the rest in the wash-up, though. The disallowing of a Justin O'Neill try 25 minutes into the first half was crucial. O'Neill crossed the line, only to fumble the ball due to a knee in the shoulder by Warriors fullback Kevin Locke.

While there was a fair chance O'Neill may have actually applied pressure on the ball, video referee Steve Chiddy handed the Storm a penalty for Locke's knee in the tackle when a penalty try would have been fair. The Storm wouldn't score from the resulting set - and the Warriors would go on to finish the half 14 points ahead.

The second came forty minutes later, when Smith took a penalty shot at goal to even up the scores - and missed.

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"I know I'm in purple, but I found it hard to believe when they disallowed the try, to be honest," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said, of O'Neill's disallowed try.

"I thought it looked like he might have dropped it - but to me, I don't know whether he lost full control of it."

Bellamy didn't bemoan that moment however. He knew his side had been rocks and diamonds. Perfectly structured from set-play, their performance lacked general execution, with five tries bombed overall. 

Sure, they came out firing in the opening stages of the second half, with Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk running the Warriors' defensive lines ragged, particularly on the right. Four pointers to Slater, Cronk and Blair in the second stanza are reflective of that. They always looked in with a chance, despite being behind on the scoreboard the whole match.

"We had chances to win, but we couldn't quite hit the front," Bellamy said.

"If we'd hit the front we might have been able to hang on. But like I say, we had plenty of chances and we probably didn't take those chances with two hands.

"We probably tried putting one hand on them and, basically, it didn't work for us."

Laumape scored a double, centre Konrad Hurrell scored a important tension-letting second half effort and Mannering was made of stone on defense - but it was the performance of Thomas Leuluai was the biggest key in the Warriors' victory, played in front a massive 20,152 crowd.

Hard-working throughout, the standoff was creative as a fifth tackle kicking option and directed the Warriors' back line with maturity. His slow start to the season has matched that of his team - but now both are headed in the right direction: the NRL top eight.

Speaking in the absence of coach Matt Elliott, who has been battling a stomach bug this weekend, Warriors assistant coach Andrew McFadden talked up Leuluai's efforts.

"I know Shaun is the flashy one, but Thomas really gives us the guidance on the field," McFadden said.

"He's really solid defensively. He really typified our performance today. He competed in everything."

The inclusion of Warriors utility Dominique Peyroux's mid-way through the second stanza was important.

Pushing Hurrell to the wing, Peyroux added defensive steel when it was needed most. 

Cronk would eventually break through to make the last minutes tense for the Warriors - before Locke crossed in the final seconds.

Leuluai said it was only then he felt comfortable about the result, before talking about his side's defensive frailities. 

"They were breaking us so easy on the edge," he said. "It's definitely something we've got to look at because they are a quality team.

"If you want to play at the back end of the year, you've got to play and you've got to win. I thought there was a couple of tries where we got beaten cleanly on the edge."

On such a significant game in the context of their NRL season, the most telling thing about this Warriors side was Leuluai's eagerness to talk about the need to address defensive ills.

Yes, the Warriors are wild and unpredictable - still. But winning pretty isn't good enough: there is now a real hunger to address the flaws in even their best performances. 

That's the scary thing for the rest of the NRL. The Warriors are the most red-hot team in first-grade, but they are primed to get much better.

Warriors 30 (N Laumape 2, T Leuluai, K Hurrell, K Locke tries; S Johnson 5 goals) Storm 22 (J O'Neill, B Slater, M Blair, C Cronk tries; C Smith 3 goals)Ht: 18-4

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