Scoring 48 points to beat Parramatta is great, but the Warriors say conceding none in their NRL clash in Auckland is even better.
It was the zero in the 48-0 scoreline that showed why the Warriors must now be considered genuine NRL premiership contenders.
The talent-packed Warriors ran in eight tries as they recorded their biggest win over Parramatta on Saturday at Mt Smart Stadium.
But scoring tries has never really be a problem for the notoriously inconsistent Warriors. Defence has been.
When coach Andrew McFadden took over from the sacked Matt Elliott after round five the Warriors were leaking an average of almost 28 points a game.
In McFadden’s 11 matches in charge, that figure has been cut to 16.
Against the Eels, halfback Shaun Johnson was at the heart of many Warriors’ raids, embellishing his performance with a try and by slotting all eight conversion attempts.
But he said it was what the Warriors did when they didn’t have the ball that he took most heart from.
“Whether it’s 6-0, 12-0, 48-0, it’s no different,” he said.
“A nil’s a nil and certainly we’ll take a lot of confidence out of that.”
The win had the Warriors sixth on the NRL ladder but level on 22 points with fourth-placed South Sydney and only four points behind front-runners Manly and Canterbury.
With the score at 36-0 at half-time, Johnson said the test for the Warriors was to kick on when they came back out.
“That first half was unreal, but we realised we could let it all go if we went out with a blase performance,” he said.
“The boys responded. We stuck to our game plan. We didn’t let them score a try.”
McFadden agreed that achieving a shut-out was a big positive given that Parramatta did bounce back in the second spell and put the Warriors under some pressure.
“We had zero scoreline against us and that’s probably the big one,” he said.
The margin of victory eclipsed the Warriors’ previous best against Parramatta of 40-4 in their debut NRL season in 1995.
It was also the first time they had kept a team scoreless since 2009, when they managed the feat against Wests Tigers and Newcastle.
The match was the last of three in a row for the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium, a stretch in which they were undefeated, claimed a total of eight points with a bye added in and climbed into the top eight.
They head back across the Tasman next week to face Brisbane, whom they beat 19-10 in mid-June when they began that mini-run of home fixtures.
McFadden said the challenge next Saturday night would be to raise the bar again from what they achieved against the Eels.
“We’ve just got to keep working hard,” he said.
“Points don’t always come that easy and it definitely won’t next week against Brisbane so we certainly can’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”