A magnificent clash between the top two sides at Mt Smart has seen the Dragons lose their first game of the year, while the Warriors proved their early form isn't a flash in the pan in a 20-12 victory at Mt Smart Stadium.
Mason Lino, the replacement half for Shaun Johnston, opened the scoring in this match in just the third minute, when some quick passing saw Lino get the ball, step around Widdop and then darted over for a try, which he was unable to convert.
The next half hour saw both sides playing very fast football through the middle and both happy to throw the ball around, producing great end to end action. Amidst all this though was some poor discipline by the Warriors defence, who leaked a lot of penalties on their own line.
With five minutes remaining in the half, Green offloaded to Gelling who ran a good line back in towards the posts, stepped inside a defender and scored out on the Warriors left side. Lino converted.
The Warriors gave away another two penalties shortly after which eventually resulted in Blake Green being sent to the sin bin.
Eight minutes into the second half and the Dragons finally got on the board after a brilliant solo effort by Ben Hunt, who stepped and weaved his way through the scattered Warriors defensive line to score. Widdop converted to reduce the deficit to 4.
With 15 minutes remaining, Issac Luke kicked early inside his own half and scored a 40/20. Three tackles into the new set, he dummied right and then dived over left from dummy half to score a brilliant solo try. Lino converted.
The Dragons hit back inside the final ten minutes when McInness threw a gentle short and flat ball to Sims, who turned in the tackle and just managed to ground the ball on the tryline. Widdop added the extras to return the deficit to just 4 points.
However it was the Warriors who would close out the game when Lino put up a bomb. Tuivasa-Sheck took the catch almost on the Dragons line. He then offloaded to Blair. who passed to Afoa, who then passed to Papalii and the young forward scored to wrap the game up. Lino failed to convert and the Warriors scored themselves a highly entertaining, well-earned victory in a game where both sides defences were very good and ball handling was impressive given the greasy conditions and rainfall in the second half.