Martin stars as Warriors bounce back against Broncos

Jacob Shteyman |

The Warriors are back in the winner’s circle after proving too strong for the Broncos in Auckland.
The Warriors are back in the winner’s circle after proving too strong for the Broncos in Auckland.

No Shaun Johnson, no problem for the Warriors, whose replacement halves pairing Te Maire Martin and Chanel Harris-Tevita starred in a convincing 32-16 win over Brisbane in Auckland.

Five-eighth Harris-Tevita scored a first-half brace on Saturday as his side rewarded fans at a sold-out Go Media Stadium with a much-improved performance from their 66-6 humbling at the hands of the Titans.

Halfback Martin ended the game with four try assists, including three from the boot, and a smart darting try from dummy-half.

Brisbane, meanwhile, sank to their fourth-straight loss and face the prospect of falling out of the top eight.

The Broncos’ tough night was further compounded by injuries to forwards Jack Gosiewski and Fletcher Baker.

Second-rower Gosiewski faces a long spell in the casualty ward with a broken arm while Baker is expected to be out for four to six weeks with ligament damage to his knee.

The Warriors, led by Addin Fonua-Blake, took the ascendancy early, out-muscling Brisbane and setting up camp inside their 20-metre zone.

The prop was irresistible with the ball in hand, running for more than 100 metres in the opening period.

Harris-Tevita capitalised on the territorial advantage after being elevated to the halfback role vacated due to a flare-up of Johnson’s troublesome achilles tendon injury.

The Samoa international skipped past Kotoni Staggs to open the scoring for the Warriors before getting on the end of a ricocheted grubber kick from halves partner Martin to complete his double.

Chanel Harris-Tavita.
Chanel Harris-Tavita is all smiles after crossing for one of his two tries against Brisbane. (Andrew Cornaga/AAP PHOTOS)

Warriors coach Andrew Webster was critical of his team’s decision-making but was happy with the way they turned around the previous week’s performance. 

“At times we made it harder on ourselves,” he said

“They still have that feeling of embarrassment from last week.

“They set the week up unbelievably, the way we trained. And then all of a sudden you go from getting absolutely smashed to rocking up, looking confident. Proud of them.”

Despite the Warriors’ dominance they only led by 10 points at the break and gave their opposition a chance to get back into the game.

“To go in 16-6 I thought was a huge effort from our guys, given the amount of possession that the Warriors had,” Broncos coach Kevin Walters said.

“I’m really proud of our guys with their effort, we were certainly in the game for a long time.

“We’ve just got to fix up our skill or our discipline and we’ll be back on track.”

But the Broncos lacked an incisive edge in attack to take advantage.

Selwyn Cobbo looked to have pulled off a miraculous fingertip put-down in the corner in the second half but was deemed to have lost possession, although he was still awarded a penalty for Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad’s desperate covering shoulder charge. 

Cobbo’s snub mattered little as Deine Mariner scored soon after, sneaking around the outside of Marcelo Montoya courtesy of a Tristan Sailor cut-out pass.

Depsite scoring a brace, Mariner looked ill at ease in defence, conceding three errors and at fault for several Warriors tries.

Brisbane No.6 Ezra Mam staked his claim for State of Origin III selection with a 40-20 in the second half to swing momentum to the visitors.

But the Warriors reasserted their dominance through some exceptional kicking from Martin against his old club.

His coach was a hard marker though.

“I thought they (Martin and Harris-Tevita) did lots of good things, I thought they need to work on things,” Webster said.

“I think we need to stay grounded here.

“The amount of possession we created from our aggression and the way we defended, but then we still found a way to give them a sniff.”

Broncos prop Xavier Willeson went over with 15 minutes left to give the visitors hope but a spectacular Dalene Waitene-Zelezniak leaping try and a Freddy Lussick four-pointer sealed the game for the hosts.