Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Daniel Anderson's headaches this week won't come from premature celebration.
Instead, Anderson had already attuned his thoughts to the huge selection quandaries he will face ahead of the round six home encounter against the North Queensland Cowboys.
It's hard to imagine the Warriors' future could look too much brighter after rolling the Bulldogs, Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs and Broncos to share second spot on the table behind only the unbeaten Canberra Raiders.
But while Anderson may have nightmares trying to decide who make his squad for Monday, he's also licking his lips at the thought of having Awen Guttenbeil, Richard Villasanti, Brent Webb and John Carlaw fit again.
"It's easily the biggest headache I've had all season ? but it's great," Anderson said.
Second-rower Guttenbeil is back after a knee operation following round two's win over the Bulldogs on March 23, while prop Villasanti and utility back Brent Webb have yet to play in the NRL this season due to shoulder and thumb injuries respectively. Carlaw, for the third week in succession, was a late withdrawal against the Broncos with a hip flexor injury.
That may mean a spell out of the limelight for some of the younger players who shone yesterday and in recent weeks, like Evarn Tuimavave, Sione Faumuina and Iafeta Palea'esina.
Tuimavave and Faumuina scored tries yesterday as the visitors over-ran the Broncos in the heat at ANZ Stadium with a final flourish capped by Tuimavave plunging over from Faumuina's outrageous overhead pass.
The Warriors forward pack ? with the assistance of a smartly-run interchange bench ? got the better of their opponents in a telling display of fitness.
"We made the most of breaks in play, scrums, penalties, players on report, to manage the bench ? but we've got a fair few players who can last a long time out there," Anderson said.
The Warriors' defensive technique was exemplary as they helped force 18 handling errors from the Broncos, often forcing the ball out at point of contact in the tackle.
Winger Francis Meli was superlative, with two tries and a faultless defensive performance while Logan Swann had Gorden Tallis clutching at his shadow when he crashed over. Hooker PJ Marsh, who got big raps from Anderson for his efforts, was the other try scorer.
The home side had props Petro Civoniceva and Andrew Gee placed on reports for high tackles and both could miss Friday night's clash against the defending champion Roosters.
It was the Warriors' fourth successive win over the Broncos, but that didn't mean much to Anderson.
"I wouldn't read too much into it though ? it's another small step forward," Anderson said.
"We've got a competitive side who can beat anyone ? not just the Broncos. We go into every game with a lot of confidence and self-belief which is reflective of the quality of personnel we have."