Warriors dominate Cowboys, end NRL slide on Aussie soil
Andrew Webster's Warriors have ended a 13-match losing streak in Australia and celebrated a milestone 200th NRL game for skipper Tohu Harris with an impressive 26-12 win over North Queensland in Townsville.
The Warriors looked fit, clinical and cohesive in both attack and defence on Saturday at Queensland Country Bank Stadium and ran away with the contest early in the second half after taking a 16-12 lead into the break.
Shaun Johnson looked like the magician of old and orchestrated their shapes well, squaring up the Cowboys' line for his bullocking pack.
His halves partner Te Maire Martin also impressed, finishing with two try assists and three linebreak assists.
But it was the Warriors' forwards, much like Canberra's in their second-half effort against North Queensland in round one, who did the damage using deft short passing to unlock the hosts' defensive line.
Six forwards finished with over 100 running metres with 11 players cracking the three digit mark.
With all the possession and territory early in the second stanza, a relieving penalty gave them field position for Adam Pompey to bowl over three defenders and find Edward Kosi for a 22-12 lead.
Soon after they were back deep in the Cowboys' half and Martin's cut-out pass arrowed to Marcelo Montoya for a diving finish and the winger's second.
Heilum Luki made his return from an ACL injury suffered last year with 20 minutes remaining and the home side lifted. But for the third week running ball control let the Cowboys down and the Warriors registered their first win in Townsville for five years, and just their third in the last 20.
Montoya led his side with a polished performance running for 214 metres, but even with two tries it was his and the back three's tough runs inside their own 20m line that had an enormous impact.
"We've worked hard on that," Webster replied when asked about their back three's efforts.
"If we're going to get in an arm wrestle with teams, we need them to get forward for us.
"The thing I was also impressed with our forwards was just how organised they look with the ball, passing, knowing their role."
Townsville junior Tom Chester was strong in his starting debut at fullback for North Queensland and registered a try and assist in the opening 15 minutes.
But the Cowboys couldn't crack their opposition's defensive line for the remainder of the game.
"Our ball control is not good enough, our discipline is not good enough and we're marching our opposition out of their own end," North Queensland coach Todd Payten said.
"We're not giving ourselves an opportunity to win the game and the credit has to go to the Warriors - they played with a lot of effort, spirit and they're a well-drilled team playing confident in each other's ability."
Hooker Wayde Egan scored the Warriors first try but left the game late with a concussion.
Reece Robson and Montoya then traded four-pointers before a handling error by North Queensland gifted deep field position and Johnson took on the line for Jazz Tevaga to score the Warriors' third.