Cowboys fall to Warriors on dream start
The New Zealand Warriors remain unbeaten five rounds into the Telstra Premiership after stunning the North Queensland Cowboys 22-12 at Mt Smart Stadium.
In another thoroughly impressive team performance from start to finish, the hosts heaped more misery on their opponents, who have now lost four successive matches on the bounce.
Their only win was a round one grinding triumph versus the Cronulla Sharks on March 9.
Stephen Kearney's team jumped out to a 6-0 lead with just six minutes on the clock.
Pivot Blake Green found a flying Solomone Kata in acres of space, who sent Ken Maumolo towards the stripe.
The in-form winger produced a typically acrobatic finish, with Shaun Johnson booting the extras from the sideline.
Midway through the first half, the Cowboys went within inches of squaring up the contest.
Tongan international Jason Taumalolo steamed on to an inside ball from Jake Granville and appeared destined to score a four-pointer, only to be brilliantly denied adjacent to the goal posts from forwards Adam Blair and Agnatius Paasi.
It proved crucial when the Warriors shot out to a 12-0 lead with 28 minutes played.
Capitalising on a repeat set after David Fusitu'a was tackled in the air by opposite Antonio Winterstein, a slick Johnson cut-out pass saw Fusitu'a score his sixth try of the campaign.
Moments later the leading try scorer in the competition had his second of the match.
Green and Johnson combined down the short side to find Peta Hiku, with the centre producing a jaw-dropping flick pass to a grateful Fusitu'a, who then showed his dancing feet to virtually score under the posts.
The Cowboys were shell-shocked, but did manage to compose themselves and reduce the deficit to 18-6 on the stroke of half-time.
Michael Morgan, who was quiet again, unleashed a bullet pass for Kyle Feldt who avoided the retreating cover defence to score out wide. Thurston duly converted to set up an enthralling second stanza.
A penalty goal from Johnson saw the Warriors enjoy a 14-point lead with 55 minutes played, only to see Paul Green's men give themselves a chance at 20-12 when Ben Hampton crossed out wide just after the hour mark.
It followed an old school run-around play from a fired up Thurston, who did everything to inspire his out of sorts teammates.
With their fans in Auckland delirious, another penalty goal from Johnson at the death saw the end margin 10 points, with the Warriors joining the St George Illawarra Dragons as the only teams to boast a perfect record in 2018.
Match: Warriors v Cowboys
Round 5 -
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
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