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Three second half tries including a Moala Graham-Taufa double carried the One New Zealand Warriors to a solid 18-4 win over St George Illawarra in Saturday's 16th-round New South Wales Cup match at North Harbour Stadium.

In doing so they extended their impressive run of form to seven wins, a draw and just the one close loss to table-topping North Sydney in their last nine outings.

The Warriors now have 21 points after 15 games and briefly held third spot before wins by the Bulldogs and Jets pushed them back to fifth.

They went into the contest against the seventh-placed Dragons showing some changes to the lineup originally named.

Nganatatafu Vake (19), who started the season in the SG Ball Cup and then moved up to the Jersey Flegg Cup, came into the centres, Ben Farr moved into the halves and Caleb Laiman was switched to the bench. Hooker Makaia Tafua and second rower Maia Sands came into the starting pack with second rower Kayliss Fatialofa moving to the interchange.

Playing on home soil for the first time since May 12, the Warriors were unable to make a mark on the scoreboard in the opening 40 minutes despite some close calls; the only points coming through an unconverted Dragons try.

The second half was another story.

The incisive Graham-Taufa, who made his first NRL appearance as a Warrior against the Dolphins four weeks ago, struck within two minutes of the second spell starting, his pace too much for St George Illawarra’s defence as the home side opened up from long range.

And for his second he exploded out of dummy half powering his way past and through defenders for another superb try to help the Warriors to a 12-4 lead after 53 minutes.

In the 63rd minutes they had their third try, Tafua probing from dummy half, off loading inside to Farr and he cleverly evaded defenders to get the ball down.

Fullback Taine Tuaupiki was on target for the third time in three attempts for an 18-4 lead.

There might have been more points including a possible late try to halfback Luke Hanson but the Warriors closed the match out well in what was their best defensive effort of the season so far.

The result gave them the home and away double against the Dragons following their 26-24 win in Wollongong on April 20.

Next Saturday they feature in a tripleheader ahead of the Warriors’ NRL clash against Brisbane at Go Media Stadium.

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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