At WIN Stadium, Wollongong: Dragons 18 (Tyrell Sloan 13 min, Zane Musgrove 45 min, Francis Molo 66 min tries; Zac Lomax 3 goals). Warriors 48 (Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 4 min, 48 min, 69 min, 71 min, Marcelo Montoya 25 min, Bayley Sironen 29 min, Jackson Ford 32 min, Shaun Johnson 53 min, Rocco Berry 56 min tries; Johnson 6 goals). HT: 6-20
Sin binned: Marata Niukore (Warriors)
Dazzling Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored four tries as the Warriors made it three wins in a row with a 48-18 victory over the Dragons in Wollongong on Friday night.
The win puts the Warriors fifth on the ladder for now and this was another gutsy performance against a Dragons team that started showing plenty of spirit, galvanised by the off-field issues surrounding Ben Hunt, who wants to quit the club.
However, when things started to get tough, the Dragons meekly gave up and Hunt was barely involved.
For a team that over the years has consistently been inconsistent, the Warriors are on a remarkable run as over their last three games they’ve scored 114 points and conceded 40.
The halves combination of Shaun Johnson and Luke Metcalf clearly benefitted from the work they’d done together during the bye week as this was their best game so far as a unit.
But it says a lot that the Warriors were able to win this game so convincingly while still not playing as well as they can. They completed just 28 of 39 sets and made 12 errors, but still won by a healthy margin.
The game didn’t start well for the Warriors with Marcelo Montoya losing the ball in a tackle 15m from their line in the third minute.
However, as has been the case for most of this season, the Warriors’ goal line defence held firm and they got themselves out of trouble.
Two minutes later the Warriors were deep in Dragons territory and Johnson took the attack to the right edge and Watene-Zelezniak ran around the defence to score.
After a try by Marcelo Montoya was ruled out for an obstruction in the build up, mistakes started creeping into the Warriors’ game and the Dragons made them pay when Tyrell Sloan scored a try following a poor no-look pass from Wayde Egan.
Dylan Walker made an impact when he came on for Bunty Afoa in the 21st minute and four minutes later Montoya got the try he missed out on earlier, catching a bouncing pass from Metcalf and getting through the tackles of Zac Lomax and Sloan to score.
The Warriors’ third try came from a Johnson grubber that Bayley Sironen grounded over the line, although there was some debate whether he lost contact with the ball.
However, there were no issues when Jackson Ford scored against his old club in the 32nd minute.
It was one of the best first halves the Warriors have had this season, led by Addin Fonua-Blake who carried the ball a remarkable 118 metres over the first 40 minutes.
Early in the second half Marata Niukore was sin binned for a shoulder charge on Moseses Suli, and he could be the latest Warriors player to cop a suspension.
Zane Musgrove made having an extra player on the field count in the 45th minute when he scored under the posts
But Watene-Zeleziak scored his second try soon after, making it the fourth time in nine appearances he’s bagged at least two tries in a game and Johnson pretty much sealed the game when he ran in a few minutes later.
There were further tries from Rocco Berry and two more from Watene-Zelezniak, while Francis Molo scored for the Dragons.
The big moment
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak’s second try, in the 48th minute, came when the Warriors had a player in the bin and crucially it stopped the momentum the Dragons had been building.
8/10: The Dragons weren’t good enough to make this much of a contest, but that’s because the Warriors played some scintillating footy as their golden patch continues.
Dallin Watene-Zelezniak had never scored more than two tries a game before this fixture, but his four against the Dragons showed he’s a player in some of the best form of his career.
The big picture
Quality teams need to beat up on ordinary sides like the Dragons and that’s exactly what the Warriors did. There are four tricky games coming up against the Rabbitohs, Eels, Sharks and Raiders and if they can win three of those games, lock them in for finals footy.