AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND — AUGUST 10: Adam Blair of the Warriors celebrates his try during the round 22 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Newcastle Knights at Mt Smart Stadium on August 10, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND — AUGUST 10: Adam Blair of the Warriors celebrates his try during the round 22 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Newcastle Knights at Mt Smart Stadium on August 10, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Warriors on the brink of ending finals drought

THE Warriors have a few weeks to sort out the glitches but when it comes to attack they are a true attacking threat this finals series.

It took the hosts 30 minutes to get going against Newcastle, but once they got a taste for it, through a try to Adam Blair, things began to click and the got away with a sound 20-4 win.

It wasn't a floodgates-open kind of performance from the Warriors, but there were flashes of brilliance from their backline that would have other teams concerned if everything really falls into place.

It was a powerful and controlled performance by the Warriors. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images.
It was a powerful and controlled performance by the Warriors. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images.

Fast running, quick ball movement, nifty footwork, it was all on show.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ran for an incredible 280 metres and he'd notched 141 of those by halftime. The closest a Knights player came was Ken Sio with 139. The fullback looked dangerous most times he had the ball and his powerful step was on display, almost leaving defenders scratching their head as to where he went.

Blair scored his first try as a Warrior. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images.
Blair scored his first try as a Warrior. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images.

But it wasn't just the number one who caused Newcastle headaches.

Shaun Johnson featured heavily, as would be expected, a try assist and a few goals as well as a hand in directly the backline movement. Blake Green caused the visitors trouble too, scoring a solo try in the 51st minute which showed his astute reading of the play.

Standing at first receiver he put the Knights on the back foot when he took on the line, a slight step and an eye on his support runner creating enough doubt for him to cut a path through the Newcastle line and put it down next to the posts.

It was the Warriors movement across the ground that was most impressive. Their forwards ran hard and straight, the backs were incisive. They pummelled the Knights in metres gained, finishing at 1730 to 1098.

The Warriors physically overwhelmed the Knights. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images.
The Warriors physically overwhelmed the Knights. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images.

Eight Warriors broke the 100-metre mark. Ken Maumalo (208) and James Gavet (137) were the most notable in support of Tuivasa-Sheck's effort.

On top of it all, they showed they are willing not to follow the usual script, two short drop outs earned them the ball back each time and they often kicked early in the tackle count.

Other finals-bound teams will have certainly have one eye on the Warriors.

The win puts New Zealand in touching distance of the finals. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images.
The win puts New Zealand in touching distance of the finals. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images.

But they probably could have done more against the worst defence in the competition. The first 30 minutes without scoring came through conservative play and their rhythm being off.

The error count ended up 12-10 in the Warriors' favour, perhaps the result of a more carefree style, but it is something that will be punished by teams they will battle for the premiership and coach Stephen Kearney will want to rectify in their final matches.

Newcastle tried valiantly to stay in the game but the same fundamental errors that have hurt them in weeks past were there again.

Kalyn Ponga tried his best at the back but could not find a way to get his side into the game. Mitchell Pearce did his best too, a no try because of a knock off a kick through to Aidan Guerra might have swung momentum their way midway through the second half.

The win should be enough to secure the Warriors' finals spot and with two of their three games against bottom eight sides, they'll be confident of moving up the ladder before September footy starts.

NZ WARRIORS 20 (A Blair D Fusitua B Green tries S Johnson 4 goals) bt NEWCASTLE 4 (K Sio try) at Mt Smart Stadium. Referee: Matt Cecchin, Alan Shortall. Crowd: 14,395



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