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The Warriors women’s team received a reality check in Round 2 of the NRLW premiership, outplayed 22-10 by St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium.

Heading into the match knowing a victory would guarantee their passage to the grand final following Brisbane’s win over Sydney Roosters, the Warriors – who upset the Roosters in Round 1 – were caught on the back foot early and never recovered.

Saints winger Shakiah Tungai snaffled an intercept and ran 90 metres to score in just the third minute, then Kiwi Ferns superstar Honey Hireme produced a brilliant 70-metre solo effort to put the Red V up 12-0 with only six minutes gone.

Superb scrambling defence from both sides prevented any addition to the scoreboard before halftime, but St George Illawarra put the foot on the throat seven minutes in the second stanza when quicksilver winger Rikeya Horne latched onto a Melanie Howard kick and skipped away from the Warriors’ cover defence.

The Warriors kept their chances afloat with 19 minutes to go via a freakish effort featuring two kicks and a wicked bounce, finished off by interchange forward Raquel Anderson-Pitman. 

But the Dragons hit back almost immediately through a powerful individual effort from centre Jessica Sergis.

Frequent chances went begging for the Warriors, but they did have the last say when fullback Apii Nicholls – one of their best on the day – found space on the edge near the Saints’ line and sent veteran Sarina Clark over out wide.

The key features of the Warriors win over the Roosters – strong fifth-tackle options and execution, dominance in the middle of the field, and authoritative defence in their own quarter – was down a couple of notches against a Dragons outfit who performed an amazing turnaround from their 30-4 loss to the Broncos in Round 1.

The result sets up a massive final round of the NRLW round-robin stage.

The Broncos are unbeaten with a +36 points differential and have one foot in the grand final ahead of next week’s showdown with the Warriors, who have a -6 differential. The Dragons are third on the ladder with a -14 for-and-against, and take on the winless Roosters (-16) next weekend.

NRLW ROUND 2 – St George Illawarra Dragons 22 (Shakiah Tungai, Honey Hireme, Rikeya Horne, Jessica Sergis tries; Tungai 3 goals) defeated Warriors 10 (Raquel Anderson-Pitman, Sarina Clark tries; Apii Nicholls goal) at ANZ Stadium

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