A remarkable defensive effort from the Brisbane Broncos saw them pick up their third-straight victory on Saturday, as they edged past the Warriors 8-2 in a slogfest at Mount Smart Stadium.
Brisbane five-eighth Anthony Milford's individual effort 21 minutes from full-time proved to be the decisive blow, as he crossed for the only try in a game where there were just four points scored in the first half, via a penalty goal to each side.
The Broncos didn't leak a single line break across the 80 minutes, a remarkable stat considering the Warriors firepower. Stephen Kearney's men also headed into the round 11 game leading the Telstra Premiership in that category with an average of nearly five line breaks a game.
While it was a dour game on the attacking front, Milford was a standout for Brisbane, running for over 100 metres and managing the game well with his kicking, which included forcing two dropouts.
Match: Warriors v Broncos
Round 11 -
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
The Warriors cause wasn't helped by interchange ace Jazz Tevaga leaving the field just before half-time with a left ankle injury, while Brisbane centre Kotoni Staggs may have a case to answer at the NRL Judiciary after being placed on report for a dangerous tackle on former teammate Kodi Nikorima.
The Warriors had dominated the scoring opportunities through the opening 40 minutes, but finished the half with just two points to show for it, courtesy of goal kicker Patrick Herbert.
They never seemed to really trouble a Broncos side, who appeared happy to concede penalties in order to halt the Warriors' momentum.
Milford breaks the deadlock
After Alex Glenn was ruled to have been held up over the line by the bunker in the seventh minute, the Warriors took the lead a short time later via Herbert's penalty.
After trying in vain to break through the Brisbane line on a number of occasions, the Warriors looked to the posts again in the 32nd, but even that wouldn't work as Herbert pushed his penalty attempt wide.
An infringement on the last play of the first half allowed Brisbane to draw even at 2-2 off the boot of Jamayne Isaako.
With 21 minutes to play Milford finally broke through for the visitors, stepping from close range and standing up Ligi Sao for a try which Isaako converted for an 8-2 lead.
The Warriors tried hard to generate scoring opportunities inside the final quarter, yet were found wanting when it came to last tackle plays, which often resulted in innocuous cross-field kicks by Blake Green, which were easily read by the Broncos.
A final chance to force golden point with seconds on the clock finished with a dropped ball by the Warriors – their 15th error of the night – leaving coach Kearney with plenty to ponder heading into the club's bye round.