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3 days ago
The Warriors had double cause for celebration yesterday at Auckland's Ericsson Stadium after winning their Australian National Rugby League match against the North Queensland Cowboys 34-6.
It was their seventh straight win which beat their previous best sequence set in their inaugural 1995 season and making the occasion sweeter was confirmation as soon as the fulltime whistle sounded that their star player Stacey Jones will spend virtually the rest of his career with the club.
If not quite a Warrior for life, as the ground accounncer proclaimed to the 14,000 crowd, Jones confirmed afterwards that he had signed a four-year contract with the Warriors.
As he is only 26 that leaves him another few seasons to continue inspiring the Warriors before going off at around 30 to add to his retirement fund, presumably in the softer competitions in Britain.
Jones said that the excellent environment at the Warriors plus the certainty of now being in the playoffs were factors in his re-signing.
But in yesterday's win, which has elevated the Warriors into the top three of the competition with the Newcastle Knights and the Bulldogs, Jones was not the only trump card for the side.
In the first spell, particularly when the Warriors swept to a 28-0 halftime lead, equally significant roles were played by PJ Marsh in the dummy-half position and the powerfully built second rower Ali Lauiti'iti.
Continuing the form which has made him a Queensland State of Origin representative, Marsh set the pattern when be broke from the ruck in the first couple of minutes and scored the opening try.
He exploited the dominance of a superior pack by tormenting the Cowboys for the rest of the spell with his darting runs and just as menacing was Lauiti'iti, who drove his big frame over for two tries.
Jones engineered the other two tries to winger Henry Fa'afili and standoff Lance Hohaia and with fullback Ivan Cleary kicking well again the Warriors had the match as good as won at the break.
In the second spell coach Daniel Anderson rested some of his guns and did not use Marsh at all. That was for two reasons: to give Marsh a break after his big game in the Origin match just four days previously and to give game time to his understudy Motu Tony.
However, it did upset the Warriors' rhythm and in an error-riddled second spell they were held 6-6 by the Cowboys.
The Queenslanders, who had seldom threatened in the first spell and had wasted their only opportunity when halfback Nathan Fien lost the ball over the line, had the better of the final 40 minutes.
They were rewarded with 15 minutes to go when when winger Simon Phillips scored from a stab kick from Matthew Bowen, but conceded a sixth try to the Warriors when centre Clinton Toopi latched on to a backline error and ran 90 metres.
Anderson, though concerned that the Warriors had lost possession too easily in the second half, was still delighted with the performance and not too upset with losing the initiative.
"The players every week impress with their attitude," he said. "We're very motivated and even though we cough up the ball too much we're difficult to beat."
That was especially shown by Toopi's try which had come from the pressure exerted by their defence. "Our defence is very solid and as we showed with that try we've still got the ability to strike from long range."
The one concern for the Warriors was the possibility of prop Mark Tookey facing the judiciary this week. After one tackle he was placed on report by referee Steve Clark.