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And that’s five!

The euphoric ride that is the start to the Warriors’ 2018 campaign continued with a thoroughly-deserved 22-12 victory over a North Queensland Cowboys side that had no answers to the hosts’ relentless effort with and without the ball.

The 25,000-plus crowd and the double-header occasion could have upset the in-form Warriors’ rhythm, but it only spurred them on. They raced out to an 18-0 lead and – despite failing to score a try in the second half – never looked genuinely in danger of letting the result slip.

Johnathan Thurston and the Cowboys will be heading back to Townsville with bodies battered and egos bruised after being roughed up by the Warriors’ stinging engine-room defence and rampaging outside-backs.

A Sol Kata bust saw Ken Maumalo streak away to the corner for the opener in the just the fifth minute, resulting in the big tryline-shy winger’s career strike-rate climb from a dismal 0.22 tries per game to a marginally less dismal 0.24.

Penalties mounted up against the Warriors through the middle stages of the first half, but their goal-line defence that characterised last week’s Rooster rout kept the Cowboys on the donut.

The visitors were unable to find the same resolve at the other end – though Shaun Johnson’s sublime cut-out pass for David Fusitu’a to score his sixth try of 2018 would have bamboozled most defensive lines.

Fusitua’s seventh of the year just a few minutes later was even prettier.

Blake Green and Johnson combined to open up some space for Peta Hiku, who Gidley-flicked for the rangy right-winger to extend his lead at the top of the NRL’s tryscoring leaderboard.

Adam Blair’s second ordinary handling error after points was a much-needed invitation for the Cowboys in the late stages of the half, with Kyle Feldt getting outside Maumalo and Thurston drilling the conversion from the sideline for an 18-6 scoreboard.

The Warriors regrouped after some early jitters in the second stanza and put up first points via a 54th-minute penalty goal from Johnson.

But a dumbass penalty even by Blair dumbass penalty standards opened the gate for Thurston to lay on a try for Ben Hampton with 19 minutes left. After the way the first hour had unfolded, a 20-12 scoreline was highly unsatisfactory for the rollicking hosts.

The Warriors provided yet another example of their astonishing evolution in the final quarter, however. The intensity on both sides of the ball lifted and they dominated territory and possession.

Any momentum the Cowboys had scrimped was quickly lost and they never realistically looking like eating up any more of the deficit.

The Warriors were unable to find their finishing polish despite having several chances in the Cowboys’ red-zone, but another Johnson penalty goal in the 76th minute wound down the clock further and closed out another momentous result.


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