Sport

Red V speed men embarrass woeful Warriors

Kalifa Faifai Loa of the Dragons makes a break.
Kalifa Faifai Loa of the Dragons makes a break. DAVID ROWLAND

WHAT now for the Warriors?

The NRL's greatest enigma is how New Zealand's only club can continually underachieve despite housing the international spine, and a host of other Kiwi stars.

The latest embarrassment came in the form of a 30-14 loss at the hands of St George Illawarra in Waikato on Friday night.

The Dragons - missing internationals Josh Dugan and Gareth Widdop - ran riot with the ball in hand and the Warriors had little answer.

The Red V speed men - led by outside backs Kalifa Fai Fai Loa, Tim Lafai, and Nene Macdonald - had a night out against the flimsy Warriors defence. Makeshift five-eighth Kurt Mann was equally impressive.

The Warriors hit the board first through milestone man Ben Matulino.

Playing his 200th NRL game and having been promoted off the bench, the big prop practically waltzed through a disoriented Dragons defence to score.

And while it took the visitors a good 20 minutes to start playing football, when they finally did it hit the home side like a fireball.

The Dragons ran in three tries in the space of 13 minutes - none better than the first, which was the handiwork of wingers Fai Fai Loa and Macdonald.

Lafai also played a hand in the stunning team try, then scored his own in the 33rd minute off some crafty ball-playing from Josh McCrone and Mann.

The Warriors looked a basket case in defence but managed to rally in attack, and rookie winger Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad crossed in the corner to make it 18-10 at the break in favour of the Dragons.

It was much of the same in the second half, as the Dragons' halves and outside backs continued to wreak havoc against an out-of-sorts Warriors defence.

Macdonald was rewarded with his own try in the 50th minute, then Taane Milne got in on the action with a meat pie to seal a superb night for the outside backs.

 

Nene Macdonald of the Dragons.
Nene Macdonald of the Dragons. DAVID ROWLAND

Nicoll-Klokstad scored his second as a consolation late in the piece but it was far too little, far too late.

If Paul Vaughan is not on Laurie Daley's teamsheet when it's made public on Monday night, there is something seriously wrong with the selection process.

The Dragons prop has been the form NSW forward of the season and continued his stellar campaign against the Warriors on Friday.

During a dismal opening 20 minutes in Waikato, Vaughan was a shining light for the visitors.

In his first stint on the paddock - which was little more than half an hour - he racked up 130 running metres.

By full time he had amassed 218 metres.

If he's not one of the Blues bookends for State of Origin, he deserves a bench spot at the very least.

You would think the international New Zealand halves pairing would dominate at club level.

You would be wrong.

The Warriors looked lost in attack and it was their No.6 and No.7 who can shoulder the blame.

While Kieran Foran has been the club's best player this season, even he looked off his game in Waikato.

And the out-of-form Shaun Johnson had another night to forget just a fortnight after the pair represented their country alongside one another in the Anzac Test.

Johnson's last-tackle options were plain bizarre at times and his kicking was atrocious, highlighted by an attempted grubber kick which hit the turf before his foot.

Neither of the Warriors halves ran the ball once in the first half. In comparison the Dragons halves had six between them.

Foran won't be at the club next year but Johnson has just signed a contract extension.

Something will have to change in their partnership if the club plans on playing finals in 2017.

News Corp Australia

Topics:  nz warriors st george illawarra dragons

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