The Warriors’ 42-18 win over the Bulldogs at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland is already being rated as perhaps their best of a long and difficult season.
While on paper the side had a reasonable chance, the prospect of reversing a heavy defeat to the Rabbitohs a week before should have made the task harder.
However, the Warriors produced arguably the finest game of the entire season in front of a big Friday night home crowd.
“Off the top of my head I’d say it’d be pretty close,” said Warriors captain Tohu Harris.
“In terms of our attitude and effort, it was the closest to a full 80 minutes we’ve had. There was that period where they scored after half-time and then got that intercept, but the really pleasing thing was that we bounced back.”
“That’s something we haven’t done a good job of in past games, when things have gone against us But we worked hard and swung the momentum our way.
After shooting out to a 12-0 and then 18-6 lead, the Warriors found themselves fighting off a staunch Bulldogs fightback that saw the scores level at 18-all just after the interval.
“There’s obviously things we need to improve on,” added Harris. “But really for most of the game we had a good attitude [and] worked hard for each other.
“The most pleasing thing was being up by 12 points and they scored two tries, but we got ourselves back in the game and got ourselves some momentum.”
Interim coach Stacey Jones praised his side’s fortitude, especially after conceding a length of the field intercept try to Bulldogs winger Josh Addo-Carr.
“Things didn’t go our way and we’ve often gone into a hole, but tonight we went the other way. They scored two tries after half-time but the boys stuck to a gameplan that works when you get into an arm-wrestle.”
“It certainly was a relief, especially after last weekend. It was a tough week (leading in). Today’s performance was off the back of playing in front of our families and a big crowd. I didn’t see this coming off the back of last week’s big loss.
Melbourne Storm-bound second rower Eli Katoa enjoyed not only his selection, but scoring a try in the second half. Shaun Johnson, another player to have a big game, supplied Katoa with a beautiful short ball that put Katoa in under the posts.
Jones savoured the sixth win of the season, one that won’t get them into the playoffs, but may well see them avoid the wooden spoon. The Warriors have one home game left, against the last-placed Titans on 3 September.