Coach Andrew McFadden says the Warriors’ defence was the key to their 19-10 victory over the in-form Brisbane Broncos in Auckland.
The mantra that defence wins matches held true for the Warriors as they breathed fresh momentum into their NRL playoff chase by downing Brisbane 19-10 in Auckland.
The Warriors made a sluggish start but did enough to end the Broncos’ four-match winning streak and lift themselves to within two points of the top eight.
Coach Andrew McFadden admits it was a scrappy affair at Mt Smart Stadium, with the Warriors putting themselves under pressure with mistakes.
But he praised his players’ resilience, saying “we pretty much won that on defence”.
McFadden pointed to their ability to hold out after a Ben Barba try brought Brisbane back to within three points with a quarter to go.
“That really could have changed the momentum, but we managed to stifle their attack after that and we hung on,” he said.
“We only conceded 10 points, so I think that was a real positive sign.”
Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin said his players put in a tough performance in a tight contest but “we just opened up a couple of times”.
He pointed to the period just before halftime, when the Broncos were starved of possession before conceding a try to blockbusting centre Konrad Hurrell, as particularly costly.
“The game sort of swung on that,” he said.
“We were chasing in the second half and at 13-10 we were a real good chance to finish positively, but we just weren’t good enough today.”
Brisbane had Queensland forwards Sam Thaiday and Matt Gillett backing up from State of Origin 2 on Wednesday night, but Gillett lasted just 12 minutes before coming off with a shoulder injury.
Griffin said the extent of the problem wasn’t immediately clear and the backrower would have a scan when he got back to Brisbane.
“He’s got a lot of strength back in it now, so hopefully it’s not too serious, but it finished him tonight,” he said.
The match was the first of three successive home fixtures for the Warriors, who are looking to extract full advantage over that stretch.
But it was Brisbane who made the early running and they were first on the board when Jake Granville scampered over from dummy half.
The Warriors were looking laboured in attack before Feleti Mateo produced a deft short ball to send Ben Henry over in the 28th minute.
After centre Konrad Hurrell forced his way past two tacklers to touch down, halfback Shaun Johnson landed the conversion and then a long-range field goal for a 13-6 half-time lead.
Brisbane never gave up and Barba’s try brought them right back into the contest.
But they were undone when a short ball from the Warriors’ own Queensland representative, Jacob Lillyman, sparked an attack that ended with five-eighth Chad Townsend dotting down.
The win was tempered for the Warriors by having two players put on report early in the second half.
Prop Suaia Matagi’s late charge on kicker Ben Hunt was followed by centre Ngani Laumape being penalised for his role in a tip tackle on Josh McGuire.