Halfback Shaun Johnson played a starring role as the Warriors retained the Trans-Tasman Cup when they overwhelmed the Brisbane Broncos 48-4 at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Johnson contributed 12 points with a gem of a solo try and four goals, two from acute angles, and his confidence and class flowed through the New Zealand-based team as they made an emphatic statement in their final pre-season game on Sunday.
They scored nine tries to one and were in control almost throughout against the Broncos as their pace, power and off-loading skills thrilled a crowd of 6000.
The Broncos were never in the game, their defence leaked constantly and they made elementary mistakes with much of their possession.
The Warriors were dominant in the first half, scoring four tries (two to Glen Fishiiahi) to one to lead 22-4 at the break.
Johnson set the tone with the first try after an electrifying break and he set up Fishiiahi’s second with a clean bust through the middle of some lacklustre defence.
The Warriors added five more tries in the second spell, two to Konrad Hurrell, to complete a humiliating day for the Queenslanders.
“It was very disappointing,” Broncos manager Andrew Gee said. “We’ve got two weeks to get it right before we play the Bulldogs in Sydney in the NRL opener.
“Nothing really went right. We were on the back foot from the start. We didn’t have too much ball and we found ourselves getting rolled.”
Warriors coach Matthew Elliott downplayed the euphoria at the final whistle.
“It’s not going to win us round one,” he cautioned. “Teams that win by 50 points often don’t win the following game.
“I’m pretty keen for us to be a whole lot better in our next game (away against the Parramatta Eels on March 9).”
But Elliott did acknowledge the quality of the performance was pleasing and that there would be intense competition to places in the NRL opener.
“Everyone’s pushing everyone,” he said. “If you don’t play well you’re not going to make the team. It’s not about reputations, it’s about who is playing well.”
It is the second consecutive year the Warriors have beaten the Broncos in Dunedin, following last year’s 16-10 victory.